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Technical Cooperation in the field of human rights

Since the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the importance of ensuring that human rights are protected under the rule of law has been emphasized by the United Nations and has guided its programmes for the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. Accordingly, the United Nations Technical Cooperation Programme in the Field of Human Rights has been engaged since 1955 in assisting States, at their request, in the building and strengthening of national structures that have a direct impact on the overall observance of human rights and the maintenance of the rule of law. Improving daily lives of people, and leaving no one behind is at the heart of our OHCHR's technical assistance.  

Key to preventing suffering, discrimination, conflict

"Effective technical cooperation is one of the keys to prevention...of suffering, of discrimination and marginalisation, of conflict," said the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Technical cooperation is a critical component of OHCHR's programme supporting States in their efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Through technical cooperation and advisory services, OHCHR provides practical assistance for the building of national and regional human rights infrastructures. Funding comes from the regular budget and through voluntary contributions to OHCHR.

The Technical Cooperation Programme is framed within the OHCHR's priorities, expected results and strategies. It is anchored on engagement with the International Human Rights Mechanisms. Seven components identified by the United Nations Board of Trustees for the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights for efficient technical cooperation shape the programme:

  1. Indivisibility of all rights: the importance of anchoring technical cooperation to the universality and indivisibility of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, including both protection and promotion aspect
  2. Support to national frameworks and institutions for human rights protection: the importance of building and strengthening national frameworks and institutions in the field of human rights through technical cooperation and advisory service
  3. Follow up on recommendations by human rights mechanisms: to support implementation of and follow up on recommendations by human rights mechanisms including the Universal Periodic Review
  4. National Development Objectives and 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: Effective human rights technical cooperation should inform national development objectives to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
  5. Partnerships with all entities on the ground 
  6. Participation: The need for technical cooperation programmes to ensure the broadest possible participation of all elements of national societies
  7. Human rights integration in UN programmes and operations in each country and region

Technical assistance takes many different forms such as expert advisory services, training courses, workshops and seminars, fellowships and grants. The following are examples of programme components:

  • provision of legal advice on human rights issues for their incorporation in policies and practices;
  • facilitation of learning, knowledge transfer and sharing of experience in the realization and promotion of human rights and strengthening of national institutions;
  • deliver human rights education programmes as to promote a human rights culture;
  • raising human rights awareness;
  • communicating on successful programmes and partnerships;
  • facilitating dialogue among diverse stakeholders on human rights issues; and
  • supporting engagement and functioning of the International Human Rights Mechanisms.