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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

As the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights states: “There are different UN human rights institutions and agencies. All have the common aim of promoting and protecting internationally agreed human rights — civil, cultural, economic, political and social. These rights were first proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every person on the globe is equally entitled to enjoy them and the task given to the High Commissioner is to strengthen the efforts of the United Nations to implement all of them.”

Held by Sergio Vieira de Mello from 2002 to 2003, the UN high commissioner reports to the UN secretary-general and is the official responsible for human rights.

The high commissioner’s responsibilities include:

  • Strengthening the efforts of the United Nations to protect and implement internationally agreed human rights
  • Leading the international human rights movement by acting as a moral authority and traveling to make public appeals regarding human rights crises
  • Working with governments, NGOs and other public and private sector institutions to strengthen human rights protection

Since its inception in 1993, four people have served as UN high commissioner for human rights:

Louise Arbour, Canada
2004 to present

Sergio Vieira de Mello, Brazil
2002 to 2003

Mary Robinson, Ireland
1997 to 2002
José Ayala-Lasso, Ecuador
1994 to 1997

Source
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

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