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Global International Law Bodies

United Nations General Assembly

The general assembly is the main delegation of the UN. It is composed of representatives from all 193 member-states of the United Nations. Each nation may make submissions and cast one vote. The general assembly meets in sessions between September and December of each year in New York.

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body responsible for protection of human rights. It is composed of 47 member statements from all regions of the United Nations. Members are states chosen to sit for fixed terms on the council.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The OHCHR is a UN agency that works to promote human rights as outlined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is headed by the high commissioner, who also coordinates the Human Rights Commission.

Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR)

A body of experts that meets three times a year to consider reports by member states on compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural rights. It also passes guidelines that interpret the covenant.

United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR)

The UNCHR was a commission within the UN until the Human Rights Council replaced it in 2006.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

The UNDP is a network that works with nations on their own solutions to development challenges. It focuses on providing expert advice, training, and grant support.

World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO is a specialized agency of the UN that works to improve access to care and reduce the spread of communicable diseases and their impact, particularly malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)

UNAIDS is an organization which aims to coordinate efforts to prevent transmission of HIV, provide care to those living with the virus, and reduce the vulnerability of communities.

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

UNESCO’s mission is to promote peace and security through promoting international collaboration on educational, scientific and cultural issues so as to further the rule of law and human rights. It supports projects on literacy and science training, freedom of the press, and cultural diversity.

World Bank

The World Bank is an international financial institution that works to provide loans to developing nations with the goal of reducing global poverty.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Performs major national and demographic censuses, which generate data to create programs to address population issues such as health and poverty. Currently supports programs in over 150 countries.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

CEDAW is the committee in charge of implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The committee reviews reports submitted by nations on their compliance with the convention.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

UNICEF is a program that provides long-term support and humanitarian aid to children in developing nations.

International Labour Organization (ILO)

The ILO is a UN agency that deals with international labour issues.

United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN HABITAT)

UN HABITAT is a UN agency that promotes socially and environmentally sustainable communities.


Regional International Law Bodies by Region


Council of Europe

The Council of Europe is an international organization that promotes co-operation between countries within the region, including issues of human rights and the rule of law. The Council has a page dedicated to its LGBT rights unit, here:

European Union

The European Union is an economic and social union of 28 nations that cooperate in a wide variety of areas. The EU is composed of several institutions, including the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Parliament. A Charter of Fundamental Rights, which explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, has been in place since the 2009 Lisbon Treaty.

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

The UNECE encourages economic cooperation among its member states. Contrary to what the title suggests, its member states include many Western Asian nations and Canada and the United States.


Asia Pacific

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP)

UN ESCAP aims to develop economic cooperation between its 53 member states. It has programs that focus on environmentally sustainable development, trade, and human rights.

Asia Pacific Forum (APF)

The APF is a regional network of national human rights institutions. Although its members are governmental organizations, it maintains working relations with non-governmental organizations.



Organization of the American States (OAS)

The OAS is an organization of 35 member states from the Americas formed to create regional cooperation among its members. The OAS is headquartered in Washington DC.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

The IACHR is an autonomous organization within the OAS. Not to be confused with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the IACHR monitors human rights situations and recommends precautionary measures. It also refers some issues to the Inter-American Court. The webpage for its LGBT rights unit is available here:



African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHRP)

The ACHRP is a quasi-judicial body that is charged with promoting human rights within its member states, and interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.



Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth is an intergovernmental organization of 54 states that are mostly former colonies of the British Empire.