1. The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 48/141, and contains an overview of the activities of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), at headquarters and in the field, conducted between 1 July 2020 to 15 March 2021. The adjusted length of the reporting period is due to the change in the annual programme of work of the Human Rights Council. The report highlights the work carried out under the thematic priorities defined in the OHCHR management plan for 2018– 2021. Given the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the report should be read in conjunction with the High Commissioner’s 2020 report to the General Assembly, which contained an initial assessment of the impact of the pandemic on human rights worldwide.
2. As at March 2021, OHCHR had 94 human rights field presences worldwide.
3. While the COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect its activities, OHCHR actively pursued its mandate, agilely adapting to the new circumstances, including through remote human rights monitoring and online delivery of technical assistance and capacity-building support. OHCHR provided timely advice on human rights-based responses to COVID-19 and offered evidence-based policy options for protecting and promoting human rights in the pandemic recovery process, including through guidance notes on matters relating to civic space, detention, indigenous peoples, migrants, minority groups, women, racial discrimination, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, older persons, persons with disabilities, business and human rights, access to vaccines and states of emergency.
4. OHCHR also supported the continuous functioning of human rights mechanisms and the discharging of their mandates, in remote and hybrid formats, avoiding protection gaps.
5. Over the year following the Secretary-General’s presentation of “The highest aspiration: a call to action for human rights”, OHCHR has been taking a central role in launching strategic initiatives across its seven thematic areas, backed by an extensive institutional architecture across the United Nations system. The Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights at Headquarters has worked closely with the Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General to lead the operationalization of the call to action, including by spearheading regional dialogues with resident coordinators to further advance the objectives of the call to action at the field level. Focused efforts to generate collective and sustained United Nations system engagement have been accompanied by outreach to Member States and civil society to raise awareness about the call to action.