Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

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Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

OHCHR
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay. OHCHR/Colombia.

As the 2005 OHCHR Plan of Action emphasizes, strengthening the rule of law has long been a principal focus of OHCHR. Based on international human rights, humanitarian and criminal law standards, a set of justice sector tools and manuals has been developed by OHCHR and used in many countries. The work of OHCHR in this area draws on its expertise concerning international human rights law, based on its experience and close and unique relationship to the treaty monitoring bodies and to the special procedures.

In accordance with the OHCHR comprehensive strategy objective aiming to bridge gaps in human rights implementation at the national level, OHCHR pursues its protection and empowerment programmes to facilitate and strengthen access to justice, and to ensure the harmonization of domestic legislation and procedures with international human rights law. Hence, OHCHR continues its engagement with and support to national legal systems and judiciaries, including through in-country training and seminars.

OHCHR accords great importance to the question of transitional justice, which is reflected in its leading role in developing methodology and guidance tools, and carrying out capacity-building activities in collaboration with the United Nations system and other actors. OHCHR has published a set of transitional justice tools, dealing with a range of issues.

OHCHR plays an active role in the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force established by the Secretary-General under the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and plan of action, and leads its working group on protecting human rights while countering terrorism. It continues to raise concerns about counter-terrorism measures that constitute gross violations of human rights, including torture and unlawful forms of detention, and to provide guidance in anti-terrorism legislation and national policies.

OHCHR also contributes to the efforts of the UN policy-making bodies to define a common framework for democracy assistance. It addresses democracy deficits through input to global and regional action for promoting democracy and human rights in cooperation with UN agencies and regional organizations, as well as by providing substantive advisory assistance to OHCHR field operations. OHCHR continues to work towards strengthening democratic governance institutions, with a focus on enhancing parliaments’ capacity alongside its long-term engagement with national judiciaries. OHCHR continues to provide expert advisory assistance in new Constitution-building processes and constitutional reform.

Furthermore, OHCHR prepares guidance material, including best practices, to address the issue of protection of witnesses to serious human rights violations and international crimes, to assist States in the development of their strategies on the subject, in particular those that are crucial for high-level investigations and trials.