The UN’s human rights work should be increased

Members of the Human Rights House Network (HRHN) express their concern to learn that the European Union is aiming at further reducing the ordinary budget of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The NGOs call upon the European Union to support the work of the Office, by increasing its ordinary budget as a way to strengthen the impact of its work and cooperation by all States.

In a joint letter to Baroness Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, 66 human rights NGOs from European Union member States, States from the European Partnership and States in cooperation with the European Union stress that the intent to reduce the budget of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is a signal in the wrong direction.

The programme budget for the biennium for 2014-2015 presented at the 2013 session of the United Nations General Assembly already decreases the budget of OHCHR by a net 4.8%, whilst the promotion and protection of human rights represents only 3% of the overall UN budget. In discussions at the General Assembly, it appears that the European Union is requesting an even sharper reduction in OHCHR’s budget.

For Florian Irminger (photo) , Head of Advocacy and Geneva Office of the Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF), “the question to the European Union is whether 20 years after the Office was established, the Union really wants to be a force contributing to weakening the voice for human rights within the UN system.”

Since its establishment 20 years ago, OHCHR has faced increasing requests, including the duty to mainstream human rights throughout the UN system. HRHN members in their joint letter believe that as we will soon celebrate the 10 years of the Human Rights Council all States and group of States aiming at promoting human rights should ambition to raise the share of the UN budget for the promotion of human rights to at least 10%, which will be made impossible if the European Union continues to pressure for more and more “across the board” cuts in the UN’s human rights budget.

Documents:

  • Joint letter to European Union (November 2013)
  • Opening of the UN General Assembly: human rights budget key topic

    In an interview on the Swiss Radio on 18 September 2013 related to the opening of the General Assembly in New York, Florian Irminger, HRHF’s Head of Advocacy and Geneva Office, stressed the need for the UN member States to strengthen the UN’s human rights budget, a key issue at the 2013 session of the General Assembly.

    » Listen to the interview (in French)

    Joint international NGO letter

    28 international NGOs said in a joint letter on 19 November 2013 that governments must act to prevent substantial budget cuts to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and to ensure the Office has adequate funding to fulfill its critical mandate.

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