The 20th Anniversary of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

In 2013, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights marks 20 years since its establishment.

A programme of special events commemorating the anniversary has been scheduled throughout the year in the lead-up to Human Rights Day in December.

The United Nations General Assembly created the mandate of High Commissioner for the promotion and protection of all human rights in December 1993. The GA was acting on a recommendation from delegates to the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna earlier the same year. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA booklet - PDF), adopted by the World Conference, marked the beginning of a renewed effort in the protection and promotion of human rights and is regarded as one of the most significant human rights documents of the past quarter century.

The extraordinary political, social and economic events of the past two decades have helped unlock the potential of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, revitalizing the human rights movement and generating progress in the implementation of human rights principles into common law, at a pace few could have imagined in 1993.

In the past 20 years, there has been fundamental progress in the advancement of women’s rights, the development of international law to achieve accountability for human rights abuses, the protection and promotion of the rights of marginalized groups and a much greater understanding of the universality and indivisibility of human rights.

Human Rights Day 2013

Human Rights Day 2013 is of special significance in this anniversary year.

Building on the theme 20 YEARS: WORKING FOR YOUR RIGHTS Human Rights Day will be celebrated in all regions of the world including special events being held at the headquarters of the UN Human Rights Office in both Geneva on 5 December and in New York on 10 December.