25 May 2012 - UNODC is to heighten focus on the promotion and protection of human rights across the spectrum of its work. To help secure peace, security and development, the Office will bear in mind the need to ensure the universal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms when designing its programmes.
The Charter of the United Nations puts human rights squarely at the heart of the Organization's work and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the treaties that make up the International Bill of Human Rights have since informed every aspect of the aims and objectives of the United Nations.
With its expertise in the areas of the rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice, and drug prevention, treatment and care, UNODC is uniquely placed to enhance wider enjoyment of human rights. A new position paper by UNODC helps shift focus beyond service delivery to the parallel strengthening of the capacity of States to meet human rights obligations and also of individuals to claim rights. To that end, the human rights dimension will be considered an integral part of technical assistance.
A key component of the work of UNODC is its mandate to uphold the United Nations standards and norms in law, crime prevention and criminal justice, all of which promote human rights. UNODC helps States to reform their criminal justice systems, with particular emphasis on vulnerable groups such as women. The Office has developed projects, for example in the areas of juvenile justice, penal reform, prison overcrowding and support to victims. It offers legislative assistance to States, for instance to ensure fair trials, and has prepared assessment tools and manuals in all areas of criminal justice reform based on United Nations standards and norms.
Looking at other areas of concern, UNODC promotes humane and voluntary treatment for addiction. Health is the cornerstone of drug policy and UNODC advocates measures to reduce vulnerability, treat drug dependence and prevent the spread of diseases associated with drug use, such as HIV.
UNODC fights trafficking in persons, a grave violation of human rights. The Trafficking in Persons Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime obliges States to criminalize this practice, which means prosecuting the perpetrators, not punishing the victims. The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, has been set up to bring direct assistance to those affected by this crime.
The position paper can be downloaded here.