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Human Rights Council holds twenty-third regular session from 27 May to 14 June 2013


23 May 2013

Council to Hear from Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, 21 Human Rights Experts and to Hold Four Panel Discussions on a Wide Range of Issues

The Human Rights Council will hold its twenty-third regular session from 27 May to 14 June 2013 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. A wide range of human rights issues will be addressed throughout the session, including over 50 country situations and some 40 specific themes among the more than 100 reports to be presented.

Human Rights Council President Ambassador Remigiusz A. Henczel (Poland) will open the session at 10 a.m. on Monday, 27 May followed by an update by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on the activities of her Office, to be followed by a general debate. The Council will hold interactive dialogues with 21 mandate holders of the Special Procedures with thematic and country mandates, which include three new mandate-holders presenting reports since the June 2012 session. On the afternoon of Monday, 3 June the Council will take up item 4 – human rights situations that require the Council’s attention - and hold an interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria.

On 4 June, the Council will hold its first interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteurs on Belarus and on Eritrea, who were appointed in 2012. The annual day of discussion on women’s human rights (more details below) will take place on Wednesday, 5 June and will feature a presentation by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, and an opening statement by the newly appointed Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri. The Council will consider the reports of its subsidiary bodies under item 5 - human rights bodies and mechanisms - , including the Social Forum and the Forum on Business and Human Rights, as well as the Working Group on a declaration on the right to peace. The Council will also consider and adopt the Universal Periodic Review outcomes on 13 countries reviewed at the fifteenth session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group held in January this year.

In the third week of the session, the Council will hold interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as with the Independent Expert on Côte d’Ivoire, followed by the presentation of country reports of the High Commissioner, including a report on South Sudan and on Mali.

Four thematic panel discussions will be held during the session, including two in the framework of an annual day of discussion. The first panel discussion will take place at 9 a.m. on 29 May on the contribution of parliaments to the work of the Council and the Universal Periodic Review. A panel discussion on strategies for advancing the business and human rights agenda by the United Nations system will be held on Thursday, 30 May from 3 p.m. This year’s annual full-day discussion on women’s rights will be held on Wednesday, 5 June from 9 a.m. to noon and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. And a fourth panel discussion will be held on Tuesday, 11 June from 3 p.m. on common challenges facing States in their efforts to secure democracy and the rule of law from a human rights perspective.

The Council will also hear the High Commissioner’s annual presentation on the overview of successes, best practices and challenges in technical assistance and capacity-building efforts and the presentation by the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, followed by a general debate under item 10 – technical assistance and capacity-building. On 13 and 14 June the Council will take action on the decisions and resolutions after which its President will appoint an Independent Expert on Mali and an Independent Expert on Haiti before closing the session.

The 21 mandate holders presenting reports this session are: Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health; Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants; Special Rapporteur on Trafficking; Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights; Independent Expert on the Effects of Foreign Debt; Special Rapporteur on Independent of Lawyers and Judges; Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions; Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons; Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations; Special Rapporteur on Peaceful Assembly and Association; Special Rapporteur on Right to Education; Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity; Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights; Working Group on Discrimination Against Women; Special Rapporteur on Right to Freedom of Expression; Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women; Special Rapporteur on Belarus; Special Rapporteur on Eritrea; Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territories; Special Rapporteur on Racism; and the Independent Expert on Cote d’Ivoire.

Regarding documentation, 112 reports are to be submitted to the twenty-third session which are available on the Council’s website; click the links to access reports and the Programme of Work on the Council’s webpage.

In addition to the formal Council meetings taking place in Room XX, over one hundred side events will be held in parallel to the main sessions. Among them is a week-long art installation in form of a 100 metre-long inflatable ‘Luminarium’ sculpture sponsored by the United Kingdom and set up on the grounds of the Palais des Nations during the last week of the Council session - 10 to 14 June. The "Luminarium" will be open to the public and will challenge visitors – including diplomats, UN staff, civil society and school children – to think more creatively about how to make the work of the Human Rights Council in Geneva better understood around the world. The week-long art installation will also feature a live hip-hop performance by former child soldier and international musician Emmanuel Jal and will culminate in a mass recital of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights led by performance artist Monica Ross (of An Act of Memory) and involving UN agencies, local dignitaries and civil society groups.

The Council will be meeting in Room XX of the Palais des Nations. It will start at 10 a.m. on Monday, 27 May.


Follow the Human Rights Council on Twitter via @UN_HRC and @UNISGeneva using hashtag #HRC23, and on facebook.com/UNHRC. The Human Rights Council is webcast live by United Nations TV, which also has archived webcasts. You can watch public meetings live via the link: webtv.un.org.

Photographs from the Human Rights Council will be uploaded several times a day onto our Flikr site, where they can be downloaded for media use: flickr.com/photos/unisgeneva. Press summaries in English and French, featuring speaker-by-speaker coverage, will be available on the UNOG website at the end of each meeting.

For media requests please contact Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, Human Rights Council Branch, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights via +41.22.917.9711 or RGomez@OHCHR.org.

Composition of the Human Rights Council

The Council is made of 47 Member States, elected by the majority of members of the General Assembly of the United Nations through direct and secret ballot. The General Assembly takes into account the candidate States’ contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights. Members serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms. The Council’s Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. Seats are distributed as follows: African States - 13 seats; Asian States - 13 seats; Latin American and Caribbean States - 8 seats; Western European and other States - 7 seats; and Eastern European States - 6 seats.

The composition of the Council at its twenty-third session is as follows (the final year of term in brackets): Angola (2013), Argentina (2015), Austria (2014), Benin (2014), Botswana (2014), Brazil (2015), Burkina Faso (2014), Chile (2014), Congo (2014), Costa Rica (2014), Côte d'Ivoire (2015), Czech Republic (2014), Ecuador (2013), Estonia (2015), Ethiopia (2015), Gabon (2015), Germany (2015), Guatemala (2013), India (2014), Indonesia (2014), Ireland (2015), Italy (2014), Japan (2015), Kazakhstan (2015), Kenya (2015), Kuwait (2014), Libya* (2013 - *The rights of membership to the Human Rights Council of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya were suspended by the General Assembly on 1 March 2011 and restored on 18 November 2011), Malaysia (2013), Maldives (2013), Mauritania (2013), Montenegro (2015), Pakistan (2015), Peru (2014), Philippines (2014), Poland (2013), Qatar (2013), Republic of Korea (2015), Republic of Moldova (2013), Romania (2014), Sierra Leone (2015), Spain (2013), Switzerland (2013), Thailand (2013), Uganda (2013), United Arab Emirates (2015), United States (2015) and Venezuela (2015).

The Bureau of the Council consists of five people – one President and four Vice-Presidents – representing the five regional groups. They serve for a year, in accordance with the Council’s annual cycle. Remigiusz Achilles Henczel (Poland) is the President of the Council. Vice-Presidents are Mr. Cheikh Ahmed Ould Zahaf (Mauritania), Ms. Iruthisham Adam (Maldives), Alexandre Fasel (Switzerland). Luis Gallegos Chiriboga (Ecuador) is a Vice-President and Rapporteur.


For use of the information media; not an official record