GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights is appealing for $375.5 million to support its efforts to promote and protect human rights in dozens of countries around the world at a time of great turbulence and erosion of fundamental rights.
Human rights is one of the three main pillars of the United Nations, along with peace and security and development. And, yet the office established to be the world's human rights watchdog is seriously short of cash.
Barely half of last year's record $321.5 million appeal was funded. The U.N. High Commissioner's Office hopes this year's appeal will receive more generous support from the international community.
Human Rights spokesman, Jeremy Laurence, said a great deal of work lies ahead. These include monitoring nations compliance with human rights law, protecting people with disabilities, promoting gender and women's rights, preventing conflicts, grievances and discrimination of all kinds.
"This year, we aim to strengthen efforts in five key frontier areas that are having an increasing impact on fundamental human rights. These are climate change, digital technologies, inequalities, corruption and people on the move."
Laurence told VOA much of the work ahead this year will involve Africa. He said his agency will supply the resources, technical assistance and other support to help vulnerable areas improve the human rights of their people.
"This year, we are establishing a new office in Sudan and we are looking at strengthening our programs in Ethiopia. We also will be looking to enhance the benefit of those countries' political transitions on their economies and societies. And, we are also further expanding our work in the Sahel, including through our country office in Niger," said Laurence.
In the Americas, Laurence said the High Commissioner's office will reinforce technical cooperation and protection in Venezuela. Another big project, he said will entail work to calm the situation in Bolivia, which is experiencing instability triggered by the ousting of former President Evo Morales.
He said human rights officials will seek to establish a genuine and inclusive dialogue between the government and civil society to defuse the crisis.