There is no doubt that the United Nations has on various occasions violated human rights norms. Yet, whilst most legal scholarship focuses on the responsibility of the United Nations for human rights violations few studies have ascertained the legal basis of the primary rules leading to such responsibility. This presentation fills this gap by investigating whether it is possible to bind the United Nations by way of (1) the laws of treaties to the human rights provisions enshrined in the UN Charter or in other universal or regional human rights treaties and (2) customary international human rights law. It draws the conclusion that a lex lata interpretation of the law does not oblige the UN to act in compliance with relevant treaties and that a number of legal theories to bind the UN to customary human rights law are flawed. Finally the presentation offers some recommendations as to how it might be possible to ensure that the UN is legally compelled to abide by human rights law.