UN rights chief urges doubling budget, wants offices 'everywhere'

24 May 2023 08:46pm
The ninth United Nations secretary-general António Guterres. - Facebook
The ninth United Nations secretary-general António Guterres. - Facebook

GENEVA, Switzerland - The United Nations rights chief said Wednesday he wanted to see a dramatic expansion of his office's operations and funding, saying UN rights officials should be present in every country.

Volker Turk said he had been lobbying UN member states to double his office's funding and allow it to broaden its footprint, as it strives to address rights abuses around the world.

"My office is now present in more places than ever. We have gone from just two field presences when we started to 94 presences around the world today," he told journalists in Geneva.

"And I would like to see this expanded further. There should be a UN human rights office everywhere," he said, stressing that "all states can and should do better on human rights." Turk said that his office currently has an annual budget of about $390 million, of which around a third comes from the regular UN budget and the rest is from voluntary contributions.

"We want to see a doubling, which would be about $800 million per year for the organisation," he said.

"A strong UN human rights office and a healthy, well-resourced human rights ecosystem are of global interest." Turk pointed to an ever-expanding number of requests from countries for assistance from his office, especially through the UN Human Rights Council, asking for its expertise and to support an array of investigations into rights abuses around the world.

The office, established 30 years ago, "has contributed to greater recognition of the centrality of human rights in making and sustaining peace, preventing and halting violations, in fostering accountability," Turk said.

He pointed to how the UN rights office works with countries, national rights bodies and civil society, "serving as a bridge" between them.

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"We call out violations and set off alarm bells when attacks on, neglect of, or disdain for human rights could set off crises," he said.

"We provide a reality check." - AFP