UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM
The United Nations is a global organization that includes nearly every
country in the world. When a country becomes a member of the United
Nations, it undertakes the obligations set forth in the Charter of the
United Nations, which includes the promotion of human rights and fundamental
freedoms for all people.
The basic human rights to which all people are entitled are contained
in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human
Rights sets forth two broad categories of rights: civil and political
rights and economic, social and cultural rights. Civil and political
rights include such basic freedoms as the right to liberty and security
of person, freedom from torture and degrading treatment and the right
to an effective remedy when a human rights violation has occurred. Economic,
social and cultural rights include the right to an adequate standard
of living, the right to adequate medical care and social services and
the right to education. Although it is not a treaty, the Universal Declaration
has the force of customary law.
The United Nations system protects human rights through the creation
of specific treaties, declarations and resolutions. These basic
documents guarantee specific rights to women
and girls. The United Nations human rights treaties establish the obligations
of the state to enforce these rights.
The human rights treaties of the United Nations also create specific enforcement mechanisms through which the
UN itself and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can monitor compliance
and individuals can seek redress for human
Within the United Nations system, programs,
funds and specialized agencies work to improve
the conditions of particular populations and oversee the enforcement
of specific rights, such as the right to health, through the World
Organization, and labor rights, through the International Labor Organization.
UN bodies, such as these, work in a number of interrelated fields,
in collaboration with each other, with national governments and with
NGOs. These programs, funds and specialized agencies are the mechanisms
through which the UN acts to put human rights ideals about protecting
women from violence into practice.