The Role of UN Agencies

UN entities work on different issues and develop programmes across the world within the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), which exist in 131 countries. The UNCT includes all the UN entities working on sustainable development, emergency, recovery, and transition in programme countries. The UNCT is led by the UN Resident Coordinator, who is the representative of the UN Secretary-General in a given country. 

The UNCT ensures interagency coordination and decision-making at the country level. Within the Resident Coordinator system, it aims at ensuring the delivery of tangible results in support of a given country’s development agenda and the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, in a joint agreement with the host government.


UN agencies and the UPR

UN agencies and OHCHR country teams are widely acknowledged as partners for UPR implementation. Throughout the UPR process, UNCTs can contribute to multilateralism to advance human rights at country level. UPR recommendations accepted by States under Review (SuR) are a powerful entry point for positive engagement and advocacy on issues which fall within the mandate of UNCTs and peace operations.

Moreover, civil society organisations (CSOs) and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) can update UN agencies on their UPR work. They can also conduct advocacy to include UPR recommendations into United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF) and Common Country Programmes to ensure that implementation is mainstreamed throughout UNCTs.

UNCT South Africa

The UPR provides an opportunity for UN agencies (as individual entities or in the context of UNCT) to:

  • Advocate more forcefully and strategically for issues of common interest as recommendations explicitly supported by a SuR constitute the most consensual entry point for UN engagement on human rights;

  • Engage in dialogue on sensitive issues that may otherwise be too delicate to raise;

  • Create a platform for discussions between State entities and CSOs on human rights; 

  • Mobilise in-country networks and alliances to promote human rights, sustainable development, peace and security issues between State entities, UN entities, civil society, etc;
  • Raise more awareness about human rights and inequalities and promote strategic time-bound plans to advance human rights, including possible voluntary pledges to implement UPR recommendations;

  • Showcase the complementarity between UPR recommendations and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and advocate for a holistic approach to address human rights challenges and the 17 SDGs;

  • Reinforce and support the commitment of States to multilateralism and the implementation of UPR recommendations;

  • Identify opportunities for bilateral and multilateral cooperation between SuR and Recommending States in the implementation process of UPR recommendations (through best practices, technical cooperation, funding, etc).