The normative foundation of the United Nations' work on the rule of law is the Charter of the United Nations and the body of international law, including international human rights law, international criminal law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law. Responses to drugs, crime and terrorism must be based on the rule of law and must, therefore, also incorporate human rights law, norms and principles.
The interrelated, indivisible, and interdependent characteristics of human rights and complexity of required responses, make holistic and interlinked approaches indispensable. With the respect of the human dignity of all persons as a foundational principle, the prevention and reduction of all forms of violence, exploitation, corruption and abuse should be at the heart of any agenda that fully recognizes the centrality of human security, both as a human rights imperative and as being integral to development.
For all these reasons, UNODC is committed to a human rights-based approach that integrates respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion, into all areas of its work.
UNODC mandates, as enshrined in the drug control conventions, the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto (UNTOC), all reaffirm the importance of full respect for human rights. UNODC’s governing bodies, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) have further consistently provided UNODC with specific mandates, such as the need to integrate human rights in responses to drugs, crime and terrorism.
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ), as governing bodies of UNODC, provide UNODC with specific mandates, which consistently indicate the need to integrate human rights in States' response to drugs, crime and terrorism, through various resolutions. The Commissions therefore play a key role in promoting human rights through policymaking. The CCPCJ has spearheaded the development of United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice, covering issues such as justice for children, violence against women, victim protection, the treatment of prisoners, the independence of the judiciary and access to legal aid. The CND supervises the application of the international drug control conventions and promotes the implementation of all international drug policy commitments in conformity with international human rights obligations. Both Commissions, as well as the quinquennial United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, serve as inclusive, multi-stakeholder platforms to discuss drugs and crime-related issues at the international level, engaging in their work a broad range of actors such as Member States, international organizations, UN entities, civil society, and academia.
Likewise, the Conference of the Parties to UNTOC, as governing body of the Organized Crime Convention and the Protocols thereto, and its subsidiary bodies, the five Working Groups, promote, within their mandate areas, human rights-based approaches in the prevention of and fight against organized crime and illicit trafficking, international cooperation, technical assistance and protection of victims.
The Conference of States Parties (CoSP) to UNCAC is the main policymaking body of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. With four subsidiary bodies, the COSP promotes the implementation of the Unites Nation Convention against Corruption, including by overseeing the Mechanism for the Review of Implementation of UNCAC. The COSP also provides mandates and guidance to UNODC which outlines the blueprint of its activities on accelerating UNCAC implementation, including the work highlighted above. A human rights-based approach is at the centre of all measures emanating from the COSP mandates, regardless of the type of activity: delivering technical assistance, training and capacity-building, creating innovative knowledge or building confidence among different stakeholders.