The United Nations human rights chief today appealed for nearly $60 million in voluntary contributions, or two-thirds of its estimated 2005 budget.
"Voluntary contributions are vital for the survival of our Office, especially when regular budget funding represents a third of our total requirements," UN Human Rights High Commissioner Louise Arbour said in the introduction to the 156-page appeal.
As she called on Governments, foundations and individuals for help, Ms. Arbour said her main goals were contributing to strengthening the rule of law nationally and internationally, focusing on the rights of the most vulnerable, and improving the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to respond to emergencies.
The OHCHR, established in 1994, is working in about 40 countries through stand-alone offices, as part of UN peace missions, within UN country teams, or through technical cooperation projects.
Its activities include training law enforcement officials, strengthening national human rights institutions, investigating past human rights violations and denouncing current abuses.
"It is impossible not to be struck by the breadth of work covered - a powerful testimony to the fact that there are few areas of our lives that are not positively affected by the universal application of our human rights, and that there are few areas of our lives that are not adversely affected by their denial," Ms. Arbour said.
"OHCHR's ultimate aim must be to turn human rights into a reality for all people across the globe."
OHCHR spokesman José Luis Diaz told journalists at a press briefing in Geneva that because of the size of the problem and the attention it was getting, the most important field operation currently was the Darfur region in western Sudan.
Other large offices were supervising fieldwork in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Colombia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi and Cambodia, he said.