• The UN and HRBA

      All UN agencies and organizations, within their own unique mandate, are committed to the common values and purpose of the UN Charter and contribute directly and indirectly towards the realization of human rights. Over the last decade, important progress has been made in human rights mainstreaming across the UN system, from integrating human rights into policies and guidelines to strengthening the capacity of UN country teams


The UN:  Delivering as One on Human Rights

There is virtually no aspect of our work that does not have a human rights dimension. Whether we are talking about peace and security, development, humanitarian action, the struggle against terrorism, climate change, none of these challenges can be addressed in isolation from human rights.
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

The mainstreaming of human rights within the United Nations system has been central to a series of UN Secretary-General’s reform initiatives since 1997.  In the area of development, human rights mainstreaming has progressively gained momentum under the United Nations Development Group’s Human Rights Working Group (UNDG-HRWG, previously known as the UNDG-HRM), established in December 2009 as a successor to UN inter-agency Action 2 Global Programme.  The UNDG-HRWG, made up of 19 UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, provides a platform for interagency collaboration to strengthen both policy coherence at the global level and operational support to UN country teams.

To learn more about the activities of the UNDG-HRWG, please click here.

The UN Common Understanding on HRBA

In 2003, the UNDG adopted the UN Statement of Common Understanding on Human Rights-Based Approaches to Development Cooperation and Programming (the Common Understanding).  The purpose behind the Common Understanding was to provide a consistent and coherent definition on the Human Rights-Based Approach across all UN agencies, funds and programmes.   The common understanding serves to guide processes and outcomes with respect to human rights mainstreaming, and in doing so provides practitioners with operational guidance in applying a HRBA in their work.  In particular, it underlines the following:

  1. All programmes of development co-operation, policies and technical assistance should further the realisation of human rights as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.
  2. Human rights standards contained in, and principles derived from, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments guide all development cooperation and programming in all sectors and in all phases of the programming process.
  3. Development cooperation contributes to the development of the capacities of ‘duty-bearers’ to meet their obligations and/or of ‘rights-holders’ to claim their rights.

To learn more, please see the full Statement of the UN Common Understanding on Human Rights-Based Approaches to development cooperation and programming.