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UNESCO Strategy on Human Rights  
UNESCO Strategy on Human Rights
In October 2003 the General Conference of UNESCO adopted the UNESCO Strategy on Human Rights. The Strategy has a twofold objective: a) reaffirm the commitment of the Organization to the cause of promoting and protecting human rights; and b) identify priority areas of action with a view to increasing the impact and visibility of UNESCO’s work in the field of human rights.

The official text of UNESCO's Human Rights Strategy is available in PDF format in the following languages: English | Français | Español | العربية | Русский | 中文.

In October 2003 the General Conference of UNESCO adopted, without a vote, the UNESCO Strategy on Human Rights. Hereby the 190 Member States of the Organization reaffirmed their commitment to the cause of human rights. They acknowledged that human rights need to be better promoted and protected, especially in the face of numerous threats and challenges to them, such as poverty, pandemics, extremism and terrorism.

UNESCO has an impressive record of human rights activities. Its Constitution, adopted sixty years ago, proclaimed that the main purpose of the Organization is “…to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms…” UNESCO was actively involved in the elaboration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as of many international human rights conventions. The Organization has adopted its own human rights instruments and has created monitoring mechanisms and a special procedure to consider alleged violations of human rights within its competence.

By adopting this Strategy, UNESCO confirmed its dedication to further strengthening the human rights dimension of its activities. The Organization also expressed its commitment to the current reform of the United Nations system, within which the advancement of human rights is a priority. The overarching purpose of the Strategy is to ensure a better division of labour within the system and to join efforts in the common struggle for human rights in an era of globalization.

The Strategy is premised on the principles of universality, indivisibility, interrelation and interdependence of all human rights – civil, cultural, economic, political and social – reaffirmed by the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (1993). Furthermore, it integrates the United Nations Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals into the work of the Organization.

The Strategy was prepared with due account of the specific responsibilities of other bodies, programmes and specialized agencies of the United Nations system, in particular of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Its effective implementation has been pursued through the strengthening of partnerships with members of the UN system, regional intergovernmental organizations, National Commissions for UNESCO and
, civil society actors, the academic community as well as national human rights institutions (i.e. Ombudspersons and national human rights commissions).

The UNESCO Strategy on Human Rights is closely linked to the UNESCO Integrated Strategy to Combat Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (32C/13) also adopted by 32nd session of the General Conference. This document provides UNESCO’s response to the recommendations of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (2001). These two Strategies are interrelated and mutually reinforcing.

Photo: Session of UNESCO's General Conference © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

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