NGO Participation in the Human Rights Council
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, Switzerland.
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 standing agenda:
- Organizational and procedural matters
- Annual report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the UN Secretary-General
- Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development
- Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
- Human rights bodies and mechanisms
- Universal Periodic Review
- Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories
- Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
- Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action
- 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.
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 Procedure;
- Submit written statements to the Human Rights Council;
- Make oral interventions to the Human Rights Council;
- 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.
For further information or assistance, please contact the NGO Liaison Team of the Human Rights Council Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org.