Universal Human Rights Index UHRI of United Nations Documents

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  • 1. What is the purpose of the Universal Human Rights Index? The Universal Human Rights Index (Index) is designed primarily to facilitate access to human rights documents issued by the UN human rights treaty bodies and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council.
  • The Index provides the Human Rights Council, international institutions, governments, national human rights institutions, NGOs, universities and the interested public with a new tool for searching the observations and recommendations of these expert bodies. It is now possible to quickly locate relevant information in the large amount of existing UN documentation … (about 1/2).

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About 2/2: … The Index offers instant access to objective and comprehensive UN information on human rights situations around the world. The information compiled in the Index will enable users to gain an international perspective on national and regional human rights developments, as well as an overview on cooperation between States and international institutions. 

In this way, the Index greatly facilitates the work of researchers and human rights institutions using these observations and recommendations in their work. Furthermore, it assists governments in the implementation of recommendations, and facilitates follow-up.

2. Which documents does it contain ? In which languages?

The Index contains the observations and recommendations of the following international expert bodies:

The seven UN human rights treaty bodies monitoring the implementation of the core international human rights treaties and their protocols:

  • Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
  • Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
  • Human Rights Committee (HRC)
  • Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
  • Committee against Torture (CAT)
  • Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
  • Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW).

The comments by governments on the concluding observations of the treaty bodies can also be found in the database.

The special procedures of the Human Rights Council:

  • Special Rapporteurs, (Special) Representatives of the Secretary-General, Independent Experts, Working Groups.

More than 1,000 documents have been indexed so far. The Index contains all the concluding observations issued by the treaty bodies from the year 2000 on, as well as all reports published by the Special Procedures since 2006.

The documents can be searched, depending on the translations made available by the UN, in the six official UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish). The website itself is available in English, French and Spanish. For the time being all annotations are in English.

3. Who developed the Index?

  • The Universal Human Rights Index has been developed by the Institute of Public Law of the University of Bern, Switzerland, in collaboration with LexUM, the justice system technologies laboratory of the University of Montreal, Canada. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is responsible for updating and further developing the Index.

4. What is new about it?

  • Concluding observations by the treaty bodies and reports by the special procedures are accessible on the website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Official Document System of the United Nations. The Index complements these websites by greatly facilitating access to these documents: It is now possible to search them by keyword, right, country and body and to find directly the relevant paragraphs of the document. And for the first time, observations and recommendations of the independent experts are now interlinked.
  • With a few clicks searchers can view the assessments of UN bodies of the status of implementation of human rights in any particular situation. This renders the existing vast amount of UN information on human rights even more transparent and accessible.

5. How is the information structured? What is an annotation? … (full text about).

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