ICJ urges action on UN human rights funding crisis

Together with hundreds of NGOs, the ICJ has urged States to redress the critical funding gap affecting UN human rights mechanisms, which is poised to cause postponement or cancellation of crucial sessions at the UN, allowing violators of human rights to avoid scutiny and accountability.

The NGOs were reacting following the revelation that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had written to independent experts that monitor human rights on behalf of the UN (treaty bodies and special procedures), warning that delayed payments by States of their UN contributions, coupled with underlying budget cuts, would likely mean postponement, cancellation or curtailment of their activities.

This included specifically likely cancellation of the autumn 2019 sessions of six of the ten human rights treaty bodies that review States implementation of their obligations under human rights treaties, and in many cases, also consider individual complaints of violations.

Only 3.7 percent of the total UN regular budget is currently allocated to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, meaning the cuts to the budget for the mechanisms have a highly disproportionate impact on the UN’s human rights work.

The NGOs responded through an open letter to all States’ permanent missions in Geneva and New York, urging that they:

  • pay their assessed financial contributions without further delay.
  • prioritize securing adequate funding for the UN’s human rights work.
  • reverse the trend of reduced budgets for UN human rights work and restore the budget allocations whose cuts have resulted in the current likelihood of cancellations and postponements.

The full open letter, including additional details as well as the list of signatories, can be accessed in PDF format here: UN-OpenLetter-BudgetOHCHR-2019-EN

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