Human rights are reflected in the United Nations (UN) Charter as one of the core purposes of the
organization. The duties and responsibilities for upholding these universal human rights, values and principles allocated to Resident Coordinators (RC) and UN Country Teams will have a significant bearing on the UN’s impact.
The three pillars of the UN system—human rights, development, and peace and security—are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, and RCs and UN Country Teams need to promote all three pillars. UN development cooperation efforts must be built squarely—and explicitly—on the principles set out in the UN Charter and the international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Knowing how to meet these norms and standards, consistently and effectively, in policy, advocacy, programming and engagement with national counterparts, is essential for the success of the UN on the ground. The UN’s contribution to protecting and promoting human rights is both a normative duty, and an operational imperative for ensuring more equitable and sustainable development outcomes.
The UN’s human rights mandate brings opportunities as well as many challenges to the UN country presence. This Guidance Note aims to help the RC system take on these opportunities and challenges. While recognizing the RC’s senior leadership role and coordination responsibilities, this Note also addresses the role of the UN Country Team and the entire UN system in upholding the human rights values and principles enshrined in the UN Charter. Finally, the role of senior UN leadership and mechanisms at global and regional levels is also defined as essential for guidance and support to be provided to colleagues at country level, as they discharge their roles and responsibilities.
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