Feb 15, 2017

Urging action for greater freedoms, stronger respect and more compassion, the United Nations human rights arm today launched a $253 million appeal – its largest to date – to bolster its 2017 work programme to protect and advance the rights of people around the world.

“In numerous countries, even the rules are under attack – xenophobia and calls for racial and religious discrimination have entered mainstream discourse and every day, seemingly, are more widespread and more deeply rooted,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a news release issued by his office (OHCHR) announcing the appeal.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

“More and more people are suddenly realizing we can no longer afford to be complacent about human rights, and that the erosion of other people’s human rights will sooner or later lead to the erosion of our own.”

According to OHCHR, the extra-budgetary funds will augment its work in providing in-country assistance, supporting UN independent rights experts and the Human Rights Council, as well as contribute to a number of trust funds on issues such as torture, rights of indigenous peoples and contemporary forms of slavery.

Erosion of other people’s human rights will sooner or later lead to the erosion of our own

“Through human rights advocacy, advice on laws and constitutions, training of State authorities as well as of non-governmental organizations, fact-finding and hard-hitting investigations that lay the groundwork for accountability and amplify the voices of victims of human rights violations – through these and other means, [OHCHR] helps in the push for better human rights protections for all,” said High Commissioner Zeid.

The Office has some 60 field presences in different locations around the globe. These include country, regional and stand-alone offices, human rights advisers, and human rights components of UN missions.

However, it struggles with “dramatic and chronic” underfunding.

“More than ever, we need strong partners to stand with us […] We need to broaden our financial support base to include more Member States, and encourage participation from a much broader range of private donors,” said Mr. Zeid, calling for their support to help prevent human rights crisis from escalating as well as contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“We can advocate a broad, open democratic space and impartial rule of law institutions in every country […] we can push back against the current assaults on values, and act swiftly to uphold the human rights laws and principles we fought so hard to build,” he highlighted, adding:

“The time to stand up for human rights is now. We are counting on your support.”

The High Commissioner will be in Washington tomorrow, February 16, for a public event at the US Institute of Peace.