The mission of OHCHR is to work for the promotion and protection of all human rights for all people; to help empower people to realize their rights and to assist those responsible for upholding such rights in ensuring that they are implemented. In carrying out its mission, OHCHR: • Gives priority to addressing the most pressing human rights violations, both acute and chronic, particularly those that put life in imminent peril; • Focuses attention on those who are at risk and vulnerable on multiple fronts; • Pays equal attention to the realisation of all civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, including the right to development; and • Measures the impact of its work through the substantive benefit that is accrued through it to individuals around the world. Operationally, OHCHR works with governments, legislatures, courts, national institutions, civil society, regional and international organisations, and the United Nations system to develop and strengthen capacity, particularly at the national level, for the promotion and protection of human rights in accordance with international norms. Institutionally, OHCHR is committed to strengthening the United Nations human rights programme and to its full implementation. OHCHR is committed to working closely with its United Nations partners to ensure that human rights form the bedrock of the work of the United Nations.
Disaster Reduction Goal
OHCHR advocates for a human rights-based approach (HRBA) to be integrated into DRR policies and programmes, HFA and post-HFA activities. Activities undertaken to enhance preparedness and resilience should be principle-based, carried out in consultation with the affected population and consistent with a framework of relevant norms and standards, including international human rights and humanitarian law.
Policies and Programmes in DRR
The strategy on OHCHR engagement in humanitarian action, endorsed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2011.
OHCHR’s message on disaster risk reduction: All states have positive human rights obligations to protect human rights. Natural hazards are not disasters, in and of themselves. They become disasters depending on the elements of exposure, vulnerability and resilience, all factors that can be addressed by human (including state) action. A failure (by governments and others) to take reasonable preventive action to reduce exposure and vulnerability and to enhance resilience, as well as to provide effective mitigation, is therefore a human rights question. Similarly, the important factors of population shifts, the density of built up environments and shortcomings in certain development models are also the product of choices made by governments, private actors and international organizations. Importantly, vulnerable, marginalized, discriminated and impoverished groups typically have fewer choices at their disposal to prepare for, respond to, escape from, or recover from disasters. Therefore, human rights should be integrated in all stages of DRR: prevention, mitigation, relief, development, reconstruction, and rehabilitation. A number of human rights-relevant elements are already explicitly addressed (to varying degrees) in the Hyogo Framework of Action, including gender, age, vulnerable groups, cultural diversity, livelihoods, and socio-economic structures. Others, however, are missing, and should therefore be addressed, among them discrimination and inequalities, economic and social rights in general, the rights to food, housing, and property in particular, displacement/IDPS, disability, older persons, poverty, the impact of climate change, and the need for participation by affected communities. Each of these is essential to rights-based and effective DRR.
Highlights of impact since 2011
The strategy on OHCHR engagement in humanitarian action, endorsed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2011, recognizes that human rights considerations must be fully integrated into the multilateral humanitarian system’s planning, preparedness, response and recovery efforts for natural disasters.
It outlines that OHCHR will continue to strive to work with partners on disaster risk reduction, including with ISDR national committees. It also highlights that integrating human rights considerations in the response and recovery efforts serves to reduce the impact of natural disasters on the affected populations, and contributes to a more sustainable post-crisis recovery and development.
OHCHR continues to work with Governments and other partners to integrate human rights in national DRR plans and measures. A number of field offices have provided assistance in drafting contingency plans and training, and are actively engaged in humanitarian activities related to disaster preparedness, response and recovery. For example, OHCHR as co-lead of the Regional Protection Cluster in the Pacific, works with the national disaster management offices to integrate human rights in disasters preparedness and response procedures and efforts including in Fiji and Tonga. OHCHR contributed to the Humanitarian Contingency Plan for the Protection Cluster in Nepal in 2011 to include a focus on access to adequate standards of food, health, housing, water and sanitation. In Kyrgyzstan, the OHCHR Regional Office for Central Asia contributed to a UN joint project on “Enhancing coordination for disaster response in the Kyrgyz Republic”. It collaborates with the Ministry of Emergency Situations and national NGOs, as well as organizes capacity building workshops of national stakeholders on integrating human rights in natural disasters management.
Membership in Key Networks
• IASC • CEB HLCP • ISDR • Global Protection Cluster (GPC)
Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point(s)
Development and Economic and Social Issues Branch, Research and Right to Development Division Ms. Estelle Askew-Renaut (firstname.lastname@example.org)