Cover image: © UNICEF/UNI189312/Gilbertson VII

PLEASE NOTE: This course is no longer available. It was archived and removed from the mandatory training list. 

The course is part of the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Up Front initiative and aims to support the cultural change that is needed in the Organization to ensure that the protection of people from violations of international human rights and humanitarian law remains central to United Nations strategies and actions. 

Learning objectives

The overall goal of this course is to increase the capacity of staff members to uphold their human rights responsibilities in their daily work and to take appropriate action for human rights protection within their functions.

At the end of the course, staff will be able to:

  • Describe situations where the UN did not adequately protect people’s human rights and the processes put into place to learn from the past
  • Explain the purpose and scope of the Human Rights Up Front initiative and its application to different contexts
  • Define human rights, the relevant UN mandate, standards and policies, and the human rights responsibilities of UN staff
  • Explain the UN human rights protection system and actors, and how to use them;
  • Recognize human rights violations as early warning signs of crises and consider situations through a “human rights lens”
  • Assess options and propose appropriate action to ensure the protection of people from violations of international human rights or humanitarian law in specific situations.


All UN staff at all levels.


It should take you about 3 hours to complete the recommended 5 modules, and 4 hours to complete all 7. 

Delivery methodology

The course uses a variety of methodologies, such as diagrams, quizzes and case studies, and features videos and interviews with UN staff members and other actors (e.g. Special Rapporteurs) on topics covered. Upon successful completion of a final assessment, UN staff will receive a certificate.

Existing staff are expected to complete the course within the next six months, and newly hired staff are expected to complete the course within six months of their entry into service. A printable certificate is provided upon completion of the course.

The course is currently available in English, with French and Spanish versions becoming available in 2016.


The course consists of seven elearning modules:

  1. Course introduction and overview
  2. Learning from the past: Human Rights Up Front
  3. What are human rights and where do they come from?
  4. United Nations bodies and mechanisms for human rights protection*
  5. Human rights responsibilities of United Nations staff
  6. Human rights violations as early warning signs*
  7. Taking action for human rights

* Strongly recommended for staff in certain job families (notably roles in economic and social development; political, peace and security; legal affairs; and public information and external relations).

Contact details

For questions and feedback, please contact the OHCHR team through