Humanitarian Action: when needs are human rights
In mid-1997, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
announced a series of reforms, including a mandate that human rights be
integrated more fully, or "mainstreamed," into the work of the UN
system. This study reviews the uptake on that mandate by four
humanitarian organizations (UNHCR, UNICEF, UNDP, and WFP) and four
secretariat units (DPA, DPKO, OCHA, and OHCHR). It finds considerable
unevenness in the interpretation of the mandate and in its
implementation in the policy and operations of these entities.
The UN system is encouraged to develop a strategy
for the system-wide integration of human rights, with the Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights playing an expanded leadership role
and interagency mechanisms (the Executive Committees and the
Inter-Agency Standing Committee) more fully engaged.
When Needs are Rights: An Overview of UN Efforts to integrate Human Rights in Humanitarian Action provides
a standard-setting template for reviewing the integration of human
rights in diverse areas, including peacekeeping. The research focus is
on eight major UN actors in humanitarian response and it reports on
their progress towards the integration of human rights in humanitarian
action. The template was applied through headquarters interviews with
officials from the eight actors. The results demonstrate the need for
both coherent vision and leadership to ensure that the full integration
of human rights in the UN system is transformative,
and not merely an ‘add-on’ to existing means of work. This study is a
collaboration with The Humanitarianism and War Project of the Thomas J.
Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Text is
also available from: http://hwproject.tufts.edu/publications/abstracts/op38.html as Occasional Paper number 38.
Humanitarian Action: A Transatlantic Agenda for Operations and Research outlines
discussion from a heterogenous group of 28 persons, consisting of
programme operators and researchers, emergency relief and human rights
experts, and North American and Europeans. The chapter concerning human
rights is contributed by Karen Kenny, editors are Larry Minear and
Thomas G Weiss. The collection is Occasional Paper No. 29 of the
Humanitarianism and War Project at Brown University.