OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

ODIHR and Human Rights
Why do human rights matter?
Since the signing of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, OSCE
participating States have committed to “respect human
rights and fundamental freedoms”. Human rights are an
essential element of the OSCE’s comprehensive concept
of security.
What are
ODIHR’s key
activities in the
area of human
In fulfilling its mandate,
the OSCE Office for
Democratic Institutions
and Human Rights
(ODIHR) assists OSCE
participating States in
meeting their human dimension commitments in
the area of human rights.
The Office’s activities
serve three core functions: human rights monitoring, providing e
­ xpert
advice and capacity

Human rights m
­ onitoring
serves the purpose of
independently assessing,
analyzing and reporting on
the implementation of human
dimension commitments by
OSCE participating States,
identifying gaps and good
practices, and recommending
improvements. It is based on
an established methodology
that includes direct observation, field deployments and
data collection through desk
research and engagement
with stakeholders. Human
rights monitoring efforts aim
to reflect the different needs
and experiences of women
and men and to produce
a concrete output (e.g., a
report, a non-paper or other
document). Recent examples of reports include those
resulting from the 2014 and
2015 human rights assessment missions to Ukraine
and on Crimea, respectively,
jointly carried out with the
OSCE High Commissioner on
National Minorities, and the
2015 “Report on the Human
Rights Situation of Detainees
at Guantanamo”.

Expert advice delivered by
ODIHR aims to align the implementation of OSCE human
dimension commitments and
international human rights
standards across all OSCE
participating States. It includes
the development of thematic
guidelines; contributions to
legislative reviews; commenting on policies, strategies and
other such state documents;
the establishment of and
work with expert panels; the
organization of and contribution to thematic conferences,
roundtables and workshops;
and the production of position papers and background

Capacity-building activities
provide state and non-state
actors with knowledge, skills
and competencies, and
promote human right compliant attitudes to enable target
audiences to be effective and
gender and human rights-conscious. They are based on a
thorough and gender-sensitive assessment of needs of
the target audiences. Capacity-building activities are
delivered using set curricula,
interactive approaches and
modern teaching methods,
and followed up on to assess
results and impact. Human
rights capacity-building work
includes the production of capacity-building tools (training
handbooks, training-of-trainers
guidebooks, manuals, curricula, lesson plans, training
modules, case studies, etc.),
their adjustment to the needs
of specific audiences and their

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