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Human rights

Promoting respect for human rights is a task accorded to UNESCO by its constitution. UNESCO’s activities on human rights focus on

  • further developing human rights in its mandate area through research and through new normative instruments;
  • orientating states and individuals towards human rights, through education, through the media and through own publications.

Many of UNESCO's more than seventy legal instruments since 1946 are closely related to human rights. Thus, UNESCO helps to make human rights more specific, more concrete and better adapted to the new challenges of modern society. The implementation of many of UNESCO's legal instruments is reviewed by its Committee on Conventions and Recommendations (CR). Since 1978, individuals may file complaints about violations of their human rights to CR, if the human rights concerned fall within the UNESCO mandate (education, science, culture and communication). The CR procedure is special since all cases are treated in strict confidentiality. Details are described in an online manual on the human rights procedures of the UN system, published by DUK.

More on DUK's activities 

Human Right to Education and Human Rights Education

UNESCO has a special responsibility for the implementation of the human right to education and the respect for human rights in education. Together with the OHCHR, UNESCO is responsible for the world programme on human rights education, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2004: Its first phase (2005-2009) focused on schools. The second phase (2010-2014) concentrates on the public sector, including police, military, government offices and public health.

Fight against Discrimination

UNESCO pays particular attention to the fight against discrimination in all its forms, with a particular focus on racism and on discrimination against women.

UNESCO website on human rights