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Human Rights Council holds its thirty-first regular session from 29 February to 24 March 2016

GENEVA (23 February 2016) - The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold its thirty-first regular session from 29 February to 24 March in the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.  United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein will address the opening session, together with Mogens Lykketoft, President of the United Nations General Assembly, commencing a three-day High-Level Segment, during which senior dignitaries will address the 47-member Council on human rights matters of national and international interest and concern.

Highlights of the four-week session include an interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, an enhanced interactive dialogue on Burundi, and individual interactive dialogues on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran and Myanmar.  The Council will also hold a high-level panel on the fiftieth anniversary of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a panel discussion on climate change and the right to health, a panel discussion on preventing violent extremism, a panel discussion on human rights and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and a panel discussion on the incompatibility between democracy and racism.  The annual debate on the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child, will also take place.  The Council will hold interactive dialogues with, inter alia, the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights of persons with albinism, the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism. 

Click here for the detailed agenda and further information on the thirty-first session. Reports for the thirty-first session can be found here, while other information can be found on the homepage of the Human Rights Council website.

Week One of the Session

The session will be opened on Monday, 29 February at 9 a.m. by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, followed by a three-day High-Level Segment, during which senior dignitaries will address the 47-member Council on human rights matters of national and international interest and concern.  At 3 p.m. the same day, the Council will hold its annual high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming.  On Tuesday, 1 March, before continuing its High-Level Segment, the Council will hold a high-level panel on the fiftieth anniversary of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  On Wednesday, 2 March, the Council will meet until 9 p.m. to conclude its High-Level Segment.   

On Thursday, 3 March, the Council will hear a panel discussion on climate change and the right to health, before holding a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, followed by a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.  On Friday, 4 March, the Council will hold its annual debate on the rights of persons with disabilities, followed by a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities and the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights of persons with albinism. 

Week Two of the Session

The second week of the session will start with the Council’s annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child, on Monday, 7 March from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.  At noon the same day, the Council will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of human rights, and the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.  On Tuesday, 8 March, the Council will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.   

Clustered interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, as well as with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, are scheduled for Wednesday, 9 March.  A clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism and the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights will be held the next day. 

Also on Thursday, 10 March at noon, High Commissioner Zeid will present his annual report on activities undertaken by his Office in 2015, followed by an interactive dialogue.  On Friday, 11 March, the Council will hold a panel discussion on human rights and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, before hearing a presentation of the report of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights on its first session, and a presentation of thematic reports, including on, reforming the treaty body system, the protection of the family, arbitrary deprivation of nationality, , , the situation of migrants in transit , information and communications technology and child sexual exploitation, and the realization of the right to work, followed by a general debate.

Week Three of the Session

The Council will discuss country situations that deserve its attention during the third week of the session.  On Monday, 14 March, it will meet all day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to hold individual interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.  The individual interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic will take place on Tuesday, 15 March at 9 a.m., after which the High Commissioner will present his reports on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Eritrea, followed by a general debate.  The same day, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Council will hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues. 

On Wednesday, 16 March, the Council will consider Universal Periodic Review outcomes for Micronesia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nauru, Rwanda, Nepal and Austria, and continue the following day with the consideration of the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Australia, Georgia, Saint Lucia, Oman, Myanmar and Saint Kitts and Nevis.  A panel discussion on preventing violent extremism is scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. on Thursday.  On Friday morning, before considering the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Sao Tome and Principe, the Council will hold a panel discussion on the incompatibility between democracy and racism.  At 3 p.m., it will hold a debate on the state of racial discrimination worldwide. 

Week Four of the Session

The last week of the session starts on Monday, 21 March with an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, followed by a general debate.  Later that day, the Council will hold an enhanced interactive dialogue on Burundi, followed by an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic.  On Tuesday, 22 March, the Council will hold individual interactive dialogues with the Independent Experts on the situations of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti and Mali, followed by individual interactive dialogues on the High Commissioner’s report and oral update on South Sudan and Ukraine. 

The Council will then take action on draft decisions and conclusions and appoint new mandate holders (members of  Working Group of Experts on transnational corporations and other business practices to  fill vacancy for member from Asia-Pacific States, members of the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples to fill vacancies for members from the Eastern European Group and the Latin American and Caribbean States, mandate holder to fill vacancy for Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories) on Wednesday, 23 March and Thursday, 24 March, before concluding its thirty-first sessions on Thursday evening.  It will not meet on Friday, 25 March, which is a United Nations holiday. 

The Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States which are responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006 with the main purpose of addressing situations of human rights violations and making recommendations on them.

The composition of the Council at its thirty-first session is of the following 47 countries: Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Botswana, Burundi, China, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Viet Nam.

The new President of the Human Rights Council is Choi Kyong-lim, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva, who took up the post on 1 January 2016.  The Council’s four Vice Presidents are Ramón Alberto Morales Quijano of Panama, Janis Karklins of Latvia, Negash Kebret Botora of Ethiopia and Bertrand de Crombrugghe of Belgium.  Bertrand de Crombrugghe of Belgium is the Rapporteur of the Council. 

For further information and media requests, please contact Rolando Gomez (+ 41.22.917.9711 / rgomez@ohchr.org), or Cédric Sapey (+ 41.22.917.9695 / csapey@ohchr.org)

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