What is the Human Rights Council?
The Human Rights Council is the principal United Nations
intergovernmental body responsible for human rights. It is composed of 47
Member States, which meets in at least three sessions per year in Geneva,
Its role includes addressing violations of human rights,
including gross and systematic violations, the promotion of respect for human
rights for all, and effective coordination and mainstreaming of human rights
within the UN system.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR) is the secretariat for the Human Rights Council.
How does it work?
Elected for three-year terms, Member States of the Council
discuss, take action and pass resolutions related to various items of a
1. Organizational and procedural matters.
2. Annual report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of
the Office of the High Commissioner and the UN Secretary-General
3. Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic,
social and cultural rights, including the right to development
4. Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
5. Human rights bodies and mechanisms
6. Universal Periodic Review
7. Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories
8. Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of
9. Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of
intolerance, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and
Programme of Action
10. Technical assistance and capacity-building
During a given session the Council considers the activities
of its subsidiary human rights procedures and mechanisms, and may organize
panel discussions and special events to enhance dialogue and mutual
understanding on specific issues.
Outside its normal sessions, the Council may also hold
special sessions related to country-specific or thematic issues.
In addition to Member States of the Council, Observers,
which include non-Member States, inter-governmental organizations, national
human rights institutions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), may
also participate in a session.
The Council’s session are broadcast live via webcast. Past
sessions are archived.
How to participate in a session of the Council?
Only NGOs in consultative status with the United Nations Economic
and Social Council (ECOSOC) can be accredited to participate in the Human
Rights Council’s sessions as Observers.
Economic and Social Council
resolution 1996/31 of July 1996.
Check your NGO in the ECOSOC NGO
For information on how your NGO
can apply for ECOSOC consultative status.
As Observers, NGOs are able, amongst other things, to:
- Attend and observe all proceedings of the
Council with the exception of the Council deliberations under the Complaints
- Submit written statements to the Human Rights Council;
- Make oral interventions to the Human Rights Council’s;
- Participate in debates, interactive dialogues, panel
discussions and informal meetings; and
- Organize “parallel events” on issues relevant to the work
of the Human Rights Council.
- A practical guide for NGO participants (i.e. about
accreditation, attending the session, access to the public gallery,
requesting a room for a parallel event, making an oral statement, documentation
and resources, and participation in general, etc.) [Download].
- NGO Written Statement Submission Form [Download].
Deadline 16 May 2011.
- Link to Oral Statement
Request Form [Open 8am, 30 May 2011].
- Co-sponsor Form – Oral Statement [Download].
- Link to NGO Side-Event Room
Request Form. Deadline 16 May 2011.
- Documentation - Links to the Programme of Work,
Agenda, Annotated Agenda, Order of the Day, Bulletin of Informal
Meetings, Council reports, NGO written statements, HRC Extranet
(information on daily programme updates, draft documentation, copies of
oral statements as delivered by States and other stakeholders, and draft
- Working with the United Nations Human Rights
Programme: Handbook for Civil Society.
For further information or assistance, please contact the
NGO Liaison Team of the Human Rights Council Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org.