My goal for the United Nations — as it marks its seventy-fifth anniversary — is to promote a human rights vision that is transformative, that provides solutions and that speaks directly to each and every human being.
As enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, human rights is one of the three founding pillars of work of the Organization, along with peace and security and development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development contains a commitment to “realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls,” through the implementation of the Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The Agenda’s goals and targets correspond overwhelmingly to existing human rights commitments in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the system of human rights treaties, which together provide a comprehensive framework for action by Member States and by the organizations of the UN system.
The Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) keeps abreast of the global human rights situation including through regular briefings by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at its semi-annual meetings. During the CEB first regular session for 2020, principals noted several human rights challenges due to COVID-19, recognizing that deep-rooted and intersecting forms of discrimination and inequalities were being magnified by the pandemic. Recognizing the necessity of a human-centered recovery, CEB principals united behind the Secretary-General’s call to action on human rights and emphasized that responses that respect and are shaped by human rights result in better outcomes in overcoming the pandemic and building back better. Furthermore, the Secretary-General brought to the Board’s attention the UN policy briefs on the effects of COVID-19, released during the months of April and May 2020, as strengthening the fundamental role of the UN as a global platform.
In 2016, CEB members affirmed the United Nations system’s commitment to a more equal world respectful of human rights and dignity and endorsed the shared United Nations system framework for action on equality and non-discrimination. Please see ‘Inequalities’ for more information.
Integrating human rights in the work of the United Nations system
Specifically addressing the issue of human rights in development cooperation at its fall 2011 session, it was noted that the United Nations needed to stand squarely on the principles enshrined in the Charter and on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in solidarity with “the peoples of the United Nations”, and for the mission outlined in the core documents of promoting “freedom from fear and want”. The time had come for the United Nations system to reflect on lessons learned and to integrate them in its policies and operations. The Board subsequently took concrete steps to strengthen the integration of human rights into its work and that of its subsidiary bodies. While good progress towards integrating human rights into the work of the United Nations system had been achieved, CEB recognized that there was a need for more regular, policy-level discussions on human rights to further strengthen policy coherence and integrity across the United Nations system, based on the norms and standards of the Organization. CEB supported a more systematic consideration of human rights issues in its work to advance policy coherence and inter-agency coordination by regularly including human rights themes in the deliberations of its High-level Committee on Programmes.