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UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

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:

  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 Action
  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.

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.

Quick links

  1. 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.) [Arabic - ChineseEnglish - French - Russian - Spanish].
  2. NGO Written Statement Submission is now done online at this link: https://ngoreg.ohchr.org/WrittenStatementRegistration/Home  (Deadline 26 May 2014)
    A user friendly practical guide to submitting statements online can be downloaded here to assist [English - French].
  3. Link to Oral Statement Request Form (Opens on 6 June 2014 at 2pm, GMT+1)
    Download here the guidelines to use the online registration system for Oral Statements [English - French- Spanish] .
  4. NGO joint-statement Form - Oral Statement [Download].
  5. Link to NGO Side-Event Room Request Form (Deadline 12 May 2014)
  6. 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 resolutions, etc.).
  7. Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: Handbook for Civil Society.
  8. Participating in the Human Rights Council by video message [Download].

For further information or assistance, please contact the NGO Liaison Team of the Human Rights Council Secretariat at civilsociety@ohchr.org.

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