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Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

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© UNHCR/A.Rodríguez, July-October 2007

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is the principal UN organization mandated to promote and protect human rights for all. To this end, it focuses on three main areas: standard setting, monitoring and implementation on the ground.

The Geneva-based office is headed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, currently Navi Pillay of South Africa. OHCHR also acts as a secretariat for the three other components of the UN human rights system: the Human Rights Council; some 40 independent UN human rights experts; and the committees that monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties.

UNHCR is responsible for integrating human rights into all areas of its work. It thus works closely with the OHCHR, both in Geneva and the field, to ensure that the forcibly displaced, stateless and others of concerns to UNHCR have full access to their human rights, regardless of their situation.

Specifically, UNHCR looks to the OHCHR for expertise on how to integrate human rights into its work in practice, including how to conduct human rights-based programming. The refugee agency also encourages the OHCHR to systematically include people of concern into its standard setting, monitoring and field implementation activities.

UNHCR coordinates advocacy efforts with OHCHR. It sometimes conducts joint advocacy for groups or individuals of concern to both organizations, especially in countries where the human rights organization is present.

The sister organizations conduct joint training of government officials, civil society personnel and individual rights holders, as well as complementary or joint interventions for individual cases.

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