Innovation! For most, entrepreneurs in the private sector have set the tone in defining what the term means, but what do public organisations like the UN think it is? Erik, a peace keeping and humanitarian in action since 2005 together with Ana, an IHDS alumni who is currently working as a sustainable environmental management specialist with OHCHR joined us on the 22nd of November to give us what is OHCHR’s perspective on Innovation and of course more. 

The Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is the Secretariat department responsible for strengthening international human rights mechanisms; enhancing equality and countering discrimination; integrating human rights in development and in the economic sphere; widening the democratic space. It was established in December 1993 through the UN General Assembly’s resolution 48/141 which also details its mandate. 

  1. Standard Setting— they work to offer the best expertise, substantive and secretariat support to the different UN human rights bodies as they discharge their standard-setting and monitoring duties.
  1. Prioritising Human Rights in all UN operations— to promote and encourage respect for human rights for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion, as stipulated in the UN Charter.
  1. Implementation on the ground— OHCHR also offers field presence around the world to promote and support implementation of International human rights at the country level. They play an essential role in identifying, monitoring and developing responses to human rights challenges.
  1. Assistance to States and Other entities— provide assistance to governments so they can implement the international human rights standards they’ve committed to. This assistance includes expertise and technical trainings in the areas of administration of justice, legislative reform, and electoral processes.

So what is innovation according to OHCHR? It is “being effective, drive impact and be profound as possible within the given mandate, through staff initiatives, drafted needs by the management and through annual Light Up Engine challenge to identify and implement those ideas” says Erik

Ana is a product of Light Up Engine and is involved in at least two projects; the Sustainable Environmental Management focusing on sustainable procurement using AI as a tool to screen vendors, see how they are not violating any human rights and compare them to their values, Human rights responses to Covid-19, spotlighting the most marginalised and developing strategies for the next possible pandemic.


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