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Экология Human rights
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Reforming the United Nations has been a priority for Secretary-General Kofi Annan, since his arrival in 1997. In the last eight years, the Secretary-General proposed and implemented numerous ideas and changes to bring the UN up to best international practices. This has included changes to work programmes, structures and systems, in headquarters locations and in the field.

Much of the reform agenda has been implemented, recognizing, nevertheless that not all the reforms were accepted by Member States. Understanding that the organization needs to continue improving, the Secretary General has made clear that 2005, the occasion of the UN's 60th anniversary, is a year for "bold decisions".

Much more has been invested in information technologies since the late 1990s. One visible benefit is that all the UN's official reports and publications may now be retrieved free of charge through the Official Documents System available over the internet. The UN website provides extensive materials in multiple languages, making available up-to-date information and images through multimedia sources; open sessions of the Security Council are now webcast along with other important meetings.

Overall, the organization has been able to do "more with less" and live within three consecutive budget cycles of zero or very limited nominal growth in the Organization's regular budget.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1948, sets out basic rights and freedoms to which all women and men are entitled - among them the right to life, liberty and nationality, to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to work, to be educated, to take part in government.

These rights are legally binding by virtue of two International Covenants, to which most States are parties. One Covenant deals with economic, social and cultural rights and the other with civil and political rights. Together with the Declaration, they constitute the International Bill of Human Rights.

The Declaration laid the groundwork for more than 80 conventions and declarations on human rights, including conventions to eliminate racial discrimination and discrimination against women; conventions on the rights of the child, the status of refugees and the prevention of genocide; and declarations on self-determination, enforced disappearances and the right to development

With the standards-setting work nearly complete, the UN is shifting the emphasis of its human rights work to the implementation of human rights laws. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, who coordinates all UN human rights activities, works with governments to improve their observance of human rights, seeks to prevent violations and investigates abuses. The UN Commission on Human Rights, an intergovernmental body, holds public meetings to review the human rights performance of States. It also appoints independent experts - "special rapporteurs" - to report on specific human rights abuses or to examine human rights in specific countries.

UN human rights bodies are involved in early-warning and conflict prevention as well as in efforts to address root causes of conflict. A number of UN peacekeeping operations have a human rights component. In all, UN human rights field activities are currently being carried out in 27 countries or territories.

Promoting respect for human rights is increasingly central to UN development assistance. In particular, the right to development is seen as part of a dynamic process which integrates all civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights and by which the well-being of all individuals in a society is improved. Key to the enjoyment of the right to development is the eradication of poverty, a major UN goal.

2. International law

The UN Charter specifically calls on the United Nations to undertake the progressive codification and development of international law. The conventions, treaties and standards resulting from this work have provided a framework for promoting international peace and security and economic and social development. States which ratify these conventions are legally bound by them.

The International Law Commission prepares drafts on topics of international law which can then be incorporated into conventions and opened for ratification by States. Some of these conventions form the basis for law governing relations among States, such as the convention on diplomatic relations or the convention regulating the use of international watercourses. The Convention on the Law of the Sea seeks to ensure equitable access by all countries to the riches of the oceans, protect them from pollution and facilitate freedom of navigation and research. The Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs is the key international treaty against drug trafficking.

The UN Commission on International Trade Law develops rules and guidelines designed to harmonize and facilitate laws regulating international trade. The UN has also pioneered the development of international environmental law. Agreements such as the convention to combat desertification, the convention on the ozone layer and the convention on the transborder movement of hazardous wastes are administered by the UN Environment Programme.

To combat terrorism, the UN and its specialized agencies have developed international agreements that constitute the basic legal instruments against terrorism.

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