Strengthening of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights/Centre for Human Rights

Commission on Human Rights resolution 1996/82


The Commission on Human Rights,

Recalling General Assembly resolutions 48/141 of 20 December 1993 and 50/187 of 22 December 1995, the relevant Economic and Social Council resolutions, as well as its own resolutions on this question,

Considering that the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms is one of the basic purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and one of the main priorities of the Organization,

Recalling that, in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (A/CONF.157/23), the World Conference on Human Rights stressed the importance of strengthening the Centre for Human Rights,

Taking note of the report of the Secretary-General on the strengthening of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights/Centre for Human Rights (E/CN.4/1996/116), as well as of the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (E/CN.4/1996/103),

Recalling the note by the Secretary-General on the geographical composition and functions of the staff of the Centre for Human Rights (A/50/682),

Taking into account that, in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the World Conference on Human Rights requested the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to take immediate steps to increase substantially the resources for the human rights programme from within the existing and future regular budgets of the United Nations, and to take urgent steps to seek increased extrabudgetary resources,

Taking into account also the establishment of the post of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the mandate for the post, as defined in General Assembly resolution 48/141, including its coordinating role and its overall supervision of the Centre, as well as the request by the General Assembly in that resolution for appropriate staff and resources to enable the High Commissioner to fulfil his mandate,

Noting with concern that the response to this request has not been commensurate with the needs, resulting in a serious and increasing imbalance between the mandates assigned to the High Commissioner and to the Centre by the competent bodies of the United Nations system in the field of human rights and the resources available to fulfil those mandates,

Taking into account the fact that the responsibilities of the High Commissioner include, inter alia, engaging in a dialogue with all Governments in the implementation of his mandate with a view to the promotion and protection of all human rights, and rationalizing, adapting, strengthening and streamlining the United Nations machinery in the field of human rights with a view to improving its efficiency and effectiveness,

Mindful of situations in which rapid action by the High Commissioner is required in order to address urgent crises in the field of human rights,

Aware that the effectiveness of action by the High Commissioner could be enhanced through cooperation within the United Nations system, inter alia through the use of its established procedures of existing mechanisms,

Noting that the difficult financial situation of the United Nations human rights programme has created considerable obstacles in implementing in full and on time the various procedures and mechanisms,

Noting also that the High Commissioner and the Centre are a unity whereby the High Commissioner, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 48/141, sets the policy directions and the priority of action and the Centre implements those policies under the direction of the head of the Centre, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights,

Emphasizing that, while further improvement in the function and efficiency of the Centre, together with a strong emphasis on good management practices, is needed in order to enable the Centre to cope with its constantly increasing workload, good management practices need to be complemented by resources commensurate with mandates,

Taking note of the information provided by the High Commissioner with regard to the ongoing process aimed at increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Centre, and encouraging the High Commissioner to continue to inform Member States on his efforts in a similar manner, inter alia through briefing sessions,

Recognizing that this process should contribute to the strengthening of the functional framework for integrated and consolidated activities of the Secretariat in the field of human rights, while reaffirming full respect for the mandates given to the High Commissioner and to the Centre by the appropriate intergovernmental bodies,

Recalling that in its report to the Special Commission of the Economic and Social Council, the Commission on Human Rights reaffirmed that the paramount consideration in the employment of staff at every level was the need for the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, and that it was convinced that that was compatible with the principle of equitable geographical distribution, and bearing in mind Article 101, paragraph 3, of the Charter of the United Nations,

1. Supports and encourages the efforts of the Secretary-General to enhance the role and further improve the functioning of the Centre for Human Rights, under the overall supervision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;

2. Reiterates the need to ensure that all the necessary human, financial, material and personnel resources are provided from the regular budget of the United Nations without delay to the United Nations human rights programme to enable it to carry out the mandates efficiently, effectively and expeditiously;

3. Requests the Secretary-General to make available additional human and financial resources, from within the overall regular budget of the United Nations, and to enhance the capability of the High Commissioner and the Centre to fulfil effectively their mandates and their ability to carry out mandated operational activities and to coordinate efficiently with other relevant departments of the Secretariat, as well as other organs, bodies and specialized agencies of the United Nations system, including on logistical and administrative questions, having due regard to the need to finance and implement activities of the United Nations relating to development;

4. Encourages the increased cooperation and coordination between the High Commissioner, acting within his mandate, and other departments and offices of the United Nations Secretariat on human rights issues;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to facilitate the participation of the High Commissioner in all established procedures of existing mechanisms within the framework of the United Nations system with a view to addressing urgent crises in the field of human rights;

6. Encourages the High Commissioner, within his mandate as set out in General Assembly resolution 48/141, to continue to seek effective ways to react rapidly to crises in the field of human rights and to continue to report on his activities in this regard to the competent bodies of the United Nations in the field of human rights, and requests in this context the Secretary-General to support activities proposed by the High Commissioner;

7. Supports fully the High Commissioner in his continuing efforts to strengthen the human rights activities of the United Nations, inter alia through measures aimed at restructuring the Centre to improve its efficiency and effectiveness;

8. Requests the High Commissioner to continue to keep all States informed on a regular basis of the ongoing process of restructuring the Centre, inter alia through informal open briefing sessions;

9. Decides to consider the question of strengthening the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights/Centre for Human Rights, including measures taken in furtherance of the present resolution, at its fifty-third session.

61st meeting 24 April 1996
[Adopted without a vote]


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