Human Rights Working Group

The United Nations Development Group’s Human Rights Working Group (UNDG-HRWG), formerly the UNDG-HRM, was established in November 2009.  It responds to the call from the Secretary General in 2008 for a dedicated senior level mechanism to institutionalize the mainstreaming of human rights in the UN’s development work and builds on the achievements of the Action 2 Programme on Human Rights Strengthening.

Achieving freedom from fear and freedom from want for all is the central mission of the United Nations. The importance of respecting, protecting, and promoting human rights in all of the UN’s work is enshrined in the UN’s Charter and confirmed, time and again, in the UN’s development work.

The UNDG-HRWG aims to further strengthen system-wide coherence, collaboration and support for Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams, so that they can better provide support to Member States to strengthen national capacity for the promotion and protection of human rights.

By ensuring coordinated, coherent support to UNCTs on human rights across agencies and between regional and headquarter levels the UNDG-HRWG is enabling the UN system to leverage the full breadth of its mandates and normative authority on human rights in its development efforts for the benefit of people around the world.

Priorities of the UNDG-HRWG:

In line with the UNDG Strategic Priorities (2013-2016) the UNDG-HRWG plays a catalytic role in making the UNDG ‘Fit for Purpose’ to deliver a human rights-based development agenda firmly anchored in universal norms and standards through:

    • Providing the primary policy forum for ensuring policy coherence in human rights mainstreaming across the UN development system.
    • Making system wide human rights expertise available to national development actors, systems and processes, anchored in strong human rights leadership by Resident Coordinators and UN country teams with strengthened capacity and support structures.
    • Acting as the lead mechanism through which the UNDG can effectively deliver on the responsibilities and demands made on the UN development system by the Human Rights Up Front Initiative.


The UNDG-HRWG is made up of 19 UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes. It is chaired by OHCHR with a rotating vice-chair, reporting to the full UNDG.  UNDOCO provides coordination and secretariat support to the HRWG.  A full list of members is available here