Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Applies to/Se aplica a

State practice
State law
Individual cases
For Urgent Action
Only under 18-s

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is responsible for leading the United Nations human rights programme and for promoting and protecting all human rights established under the Charter of the United Nations and international human rights law.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations. He/She heads OHCHR and spearheads the United Nations' human rights efforts.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights provides secretariat support to the nine core human rights treaty bodies including the Human Rights Committee (CCPR), the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Human Rights Council with its subsidiary mechanisms as the Advisory Committee, the Universal Periodic Review and the two Working Groups established under the Council’s Complaint Procedure, the Working Group on Communications and the Working Group on Situations. In this role it receives communications, forwards them to the State concerned and engages in dialogue with the aim of securing respect for the human rights stipulated in the international human rights treaties.

The OHCHR can also be an important independent actor for the protection of human rights, including the right to conscientious objection. This is especially the case where the OHCHR is present in a country through its country offices or regional offices.
Currently the OHCHR has offices in Bolivia, Cambodia, Colombia, Guatemala, Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Nepal, the Occupied Palestinian Territories (stand-alone office), Kosovo (Serbia), Togo, and Uganda. Details of country offices can be found at
OHCHR has 12 regional offices/centres covering East Africa (Addis Ababa), Southern Africa (Pretoria), West Africa (Dakar) Central America (Panama City), South America (Santiago de Chile), Europe (Brussels), Central Asia (Bishkek), South East Asia (Bangkok), Pacific (Suva) and the Middle East (Beirut). Details of the regional offices are available at

Both, country offices and regional offices are engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights, and cooperate also with NGOs. Information they receive will be used for the compilation of the OHCHR report as part of the Universal Periodic Review (see below). In case of a national or regional presence, it can be very useful to establish a relationship with the relevant office of the OHCHR, and to keep them informed of the situation, and of individual cases.

The OHCHR is also coordinating the United Nations human rights education and public information programmes.

Office holder(s)

September 2008 – present: Ms. Navanethem Pillay

Contact Details: 
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Palais Wilson 52 rue des Pâquis CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland Telephone: +41 22 917 9220 E-mail:
Further Reading: 
Reference texts