The United Nations & Human Rights
The following is a brief guide to some of the government agencies worldwide producing information on human rights. In addition to the United Nations, see also below the sections on NGOs, US Government sources, and other International Government Organizations.
To get started finding International Governmental Organization (IGO) human rights information you may wish to try the following IGO Custom Search Engine, which was initiated by David Oldenkamp, International Documents Librarian at Indiana University, and searches 392 urls of International Governmental Organizations (IGOs).
United Nations Yearbook. Searchabler online compilation of the primary UN reference volume, with the full text of the entire series from 1946. The current year is excluded but is available in print in the Government Reference Collection. Each yearbook contains summaries with supporting citations of key UN activities, including several hundred pages on human rights.
Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General. Contains the current status of over 500 multilateral treaties including country declarations and reservations. Part of the United Nations Treaty Collection. Select "databases" from the top and then select MTDSG.
ReliefWeb. Humanitarian crisis and emergency awareness service administered by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Refworld Collection of country information, reports, policy documents, national legislation, position papers, and more on refugees. Use the country name and select "filter" to refine results.
United Nations & Human Rights Research Guide. Detailed research guide for UN documentation on human rights, compiled by the UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library.
United Nations Human Rights Treaties. (From Bayefsky.Com). Provides access to documents from the UN human rights treaty system. Materials include the text of treaties, documents from the UN treaty bodies, information on reform of the system, and other information.
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Main office for information on the human rights activities of the UN. Primary features include: the Human Rights Bodies section which contains information about Charter-based Bodies as well as the Treaty-based Bodies. The Charter-based Bodies include information and documents regarding the Human Rights Council. The Treaties-based Bodies section provides extensive information on each of the human rights treaty bodies (or committees - see below).
Universal Human Rights Index of United Nations Documents Gateway designed "to facilitate access to human rights documents issued by the UN human rights treaty bodies and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council." Search by country, by rights and by human rights body.
The UN Secretary-General's Database on Violence Against Women Includes laws, policies, programs, institutional mechanisms, research, statistical data, country pages, good practices, and a search mechanism.
United Nations Treaty Body Database. Searchable database all the documents submitted to or issued by UN treaty-based monitoring committees (see below). Includes state "periodic" reports and UN commmitte concluding observations, as well as NGO documents if an NGO disagrees with the State report submitted.
- Human Rights Committee
- Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
- Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
- Committee against Torture
- Committee on the Rights of the Child
- Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Worker and Members of Their Families
- Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Universal Periodic Review Database. Universal periodic review mechanism intended to summarize and review the human rights record of every UN member country (regardless of whether they are signatory to the treaties listed above) once every four years.
Violence Against Women Database. Provides information "on the extent, nature and consequences of all forms of violence against women, and on the impact and effectiveness of policies and programmes for, including best practices in, combating such violence." There is an advanced search engine and a page for each Member State.
United Nations and Humanitarian Relief
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The United Nations Refugee Agency. Includes many online books, papers and statistics.
Relief Web. Web portal from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Hails itself as "the world's leading gateway to information on humanitarian emergencies and disasters."
Refworld. Collection of country information, reports, policy documents, national legislation, position papers, and more on refugees. Use the country name and select "filter" to refine results
United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Chief UN office for coordination of humanitarian affairs, within the UN itself and with other international agencies, especially for major emergencies and natural disasters.
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Includes section on mitigation of marine related disasters.
Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit. United Nations mechanism to coordinate the international response to environmental emergencies and natural disasters.
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The UN AIDS agency. See the section on HIV/AIDS in Emergency Settings.
United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. UN agency charged with reducing human, social, economic and environmental losses due to natural hazards.
United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries. UN Office for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States.
United Nations Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee. Third Committee" of the UN General Assembly, with a mandate to address human rights, social development, refugees, advancement of women, indigenous peoples, and more.
World Food Programme (WFP). The United Nations Food Agency. The WFP is the world's largest international food aid organization, dedicated to combating hunger in nations with severe food shortages.
World Health Organization. Activities, reports, news and events in WHO programmes and offices working on the health-related aspects of disasters.
United States Government & Human Rights
ProQuest Congressional. One stop shop for U.S. congressional publications. Abstracts of congressional publications back to 1789, including full text of published Congressional Hearings from 1824-present, Committee Prints from 1830, Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports from 1916-present, the United States Congressional Serial Set from 1789-present, and some legislative histories.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Informative annual report on human rights practices for all countries worldwide from the United States Department of State.
ProQuest Legislative Insight. Provides access to more than 18,000 professionally researched legislative histories of US Law. Histories include the Public Law itself, all versions of related bills, law-specific Congressional Record excerpts, committee hearings, reports and prints, Presidential signing statements, and CRS reports, from 1929-present.
Other International Human Rights Organizations
African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. Quasi-judicial body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights throughout the African continent.
Council of Europe. See especially the European Court of Human Rights, the only international court where and invidual may bring a human rights complaint forward to an international court.
European Union (EU). Economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. World's largest regional security organization offering documentation in the fields of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, post-conflict rehabilitation. See the section on Human Rights.
Organization of American States. International Organization of member states in the Americas. The section on human rights containts key OAS human rights commissions and documents.