39th Session of the Human Rights Council, Geneva​The rights of freedom of expression and access to information, privacy, education, and participation in cultural life are core to libraries’ mission. They give equitable access to the knowledge contained in their collections, reach out proactively to marginalised groups, offer support for creativity and skills development, and offer privacy-respecting means of accessing ideas and content.

As such, libraries are regular advocates for stronger respect for human rights in wider society. In this, they frequently draw on – and emphasise – the work of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This post, created 25 years ago, provides a welcome and very high-profile voice for human rights around the world.

Having a strong, capable and well-regarded person in this role makes it all the more powerful. The naming of two-time President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, who was also the first Executive Director of UN Women, is therefore a very promising step.

With her experience at national and global level, including as a victim of human rights abuses, an advocate for public health, and as the head of a UN agency focused on equality, she is well placed to be a strong voice for rights.

IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner said:

It is great to see Michelle Bachelet nominated for the post of High Commissioner. She will have a crucial role in defending, and promoting rights that are at the foundation – and the heart – of the work of libraries’.

Read about how you can get involved in the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.