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Human Rights Council to hold forty-fifth session

7 September 2020

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold its forty-fifth regular session from 14 September to 6 October 2020 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

At the opening of the session at 10 a.m. on Monday, 14 September, Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will update the Council on the situation of human rights worldwide and on the activities of her Office, and will address, inter alia, the human rights situation in Venezuela and Nicaragua, and the human rights impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

During the session, the Council will hold 19 dialogues with mandate holders and other experts ; 8 dialogues with international investigative mechanisms on a range of human rights issues and country situations, including reports or updates on Myanmar, Burundi and Libya ; 5 enhanced dialogues ; and 1 country-specific dialogue.  It will hold three panel discussions, on the right to development, on the rights of indigenous peoples, and on the integration of a gender perspective.  The Council will also discuss final outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review for 12 States.  On the last day of the session, on Tuesday, 6 October, it will elect members of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee and appoint Special Procedure mandate holders and members of Working Groups.  On 5 and 6 October, the Council will take action on decisions and resolutions before concluding the session.   

Significant time will be dedicated to the examination of human rights situations in a number of countries, under different agenda items : the reports of the United Nations Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office (item 2), human rights situations that require the Council's attention (item 4), and technical assistance and capacity-building (item 10).

On the first day of the forty-fifth session, the Council will take up the situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar : it will first consider the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on this matter before turning to the report of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar.  The Council will continue its consideration of this country situation on 22 September, when it will hold a dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar on his oral progress report.

On Venezuela, in addition to the aforementioned oral report by the High Commissioner, the Council will consider on 23 September the final report of the independent international fact-finding mission on Venezuela, which had been tasked with, inter alia, investigating extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment since 2014.

Regarding the human rights situation in Nicaragua, the Council will hear an oral update by High Commissioner Bachelet followed by a general debate, while on Yemen, it will discuss the report by the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts and the High Commissioner's report on the implementation of technical assistance provided to the National Commission of Inquiry to investigate allegations of violations and abuses committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen.

The Council will hold separate interactive dialogues, under its agenda item on human rights situations that require the Council's attention, with the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan on 23 September ; the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic on 22 September ; and the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, which will present its final report, on 22 September. 

Under the agenda item on technical assistance and capacity building, the human rights situations in Ukraine, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Central African Republic and Georgia will also be on the agenda during the session.  The High Commissioner will present an oral update on the situation in Ukraine, which will be discussed during an interactive dialogue on 30 September.  There will be an oral update by the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya followed by an interactive dialogue on 2 October. 

On the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council will hear an oral update of the High Commissioner on the human rights impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic during an enhanced interactive dialogue on 14 September. 

The right to development will be among the issues of importance broached during the session.  The Special Rapporteur on the right to development will present recommendations outlined in his report on integrating the right to development into the areas of resource mobilization, tax policies, participation and access to information on 16 September.  On 17 September, the Council will consider the report of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development to provide the Council with thematic expertise on the right to development in searching for, identifying and sharing best practices with Member States and to promote the implementation of the right to development worldwide.  The biennial panel discussion on the right to development, to be held on the same day, will center on the theme "COVID-19 and the right to development : we are all in this together".  On 21 September, the Council will examine the Report of the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the implementation of the right to development in least developed countries, taking into account existing challenges, including in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and recommendations on how to overcome them.

The rights of indigenous peoples will also loom large during the session.  The annual half-day panel discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples will be held on 23 September, on the theme "Protection of indigenous human rights defenders".  The following day, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples will present her report, which notably deals with experiences and lessons learned regarding consultation processes, the Council will engage in an interactive dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Persons.

On 28 September, the Council will hold its annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms.  This year, the discussion will focus on the theme "Gender and diversity : strengthening the intersectional perspective in the work of the Human Rights Council".

In interactive dialogues, the Council will address a range of other human rights issues and themes. 

It will discuss the report by the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery that assesses the impact of the coronavirus disease pandemic on contemporary forms of slavery and slavery-like practices.  It will also consider the use of private military and security services in immigration and border management on the protection of the rights of all migrants, as discussed by the Working Group on the use of mercenaries in its report. 

With the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, the Council will examine the concepts of progressive realization of human rights, of using the maximum of its available resources and of fulfilling the minimum core obligations.  With the Special Rapporteur on hazardous wastes it will consider the duty to prevent exposure to COVID-19.

The Council will also engage with the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances on its report, and with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, whose report deals with the memorialization processes in the context of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, the fifth pillar of transitional justice.

In an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the human rights of older persons, the Council will examine her report on the significance of data for the realization of the human rights of older persons.  It will also consider the report of the Secretary-General on reprisals, and the report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, in separate interactive dialogues.

The Council will examine the report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order on interplay of international financial institutions' policies and safeguards with good governance at the local level.  It will also consider a report by the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.

The Council will engage in dialogue with the Working Group on arbitrary detention and with its Advisory Committee, as well examine several reports concerning racial discrimination and the follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action.

Munir Akram seventy-sixth President of the Economic and Social Council, will brief the Council on 21 September. 

The Council will consider and adopt the final outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of 12 States : Kyrgyzstan, Guinea, Lao's People Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Kenya, Armenia, Guinea-Bissau, Sweden, Grenada, Turkey, Kiribati and Guyana.

As at every regular session, the Council will hold nine general debates : on the High Commissioner's oral updates on 14 September, on the promotion and protection of all human rights on 21 and 22 September, on human rights situations that require the Council's attention on 22 and 23 September, on human rights bodies and mechanisms on 25 September, and on the Universal Periodic Review on 28 and 29 September.  On 29 September the Council will hold a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.  On 30 September, it will hold debates on the follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and on racism and racial discrimination, while the general debate on technical assistance and capacity building will be held on 30 September, 1 and 2 October.

At the end of the session, the President of the Council will appoint several independent expert mandate holders, namely, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan ; the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation ; the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities ; two members of the Working Group on arbitrary detention, respectively from African States and from Latin American and Caribbean States ; a member of the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, from Latin American and Caribbean States ;  a member of the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, from African States ; a member of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, from Asia-Pacific States ; and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea – an unforeseen vacancy that has arisen due to the resignation of the current mandate holder.

Also at the session, the Council will elect seven members to fill the vacant seats at the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, two for the Group of African States, two for the Group of Asia-Pacific States, one for the Group of Eastern European States, one for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States and one for the Group of Western European and other States.

Further information on the forty-fifth session can be found here, including the annotated agenda, detailed programme of work and the reports to be presented.

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 Human Rights Council at its forty-fifth session is as follows : Afghanistan ; Angola ; Argentina ; Armenia ; Australia ; Austria ; Bahamas ; Bahrain ; Bangladesh ; Brazil ; Bulgaria ; Burkina Faso ; Cameroon ; Chile ; Czechia ; Democratic Republic of the Congo ; Denmark ; Eritrea ; Fiji ; Germany ; India ; Indonesia ; Italy ; Japan ; Libya ; Marshall Islands ; Mauritania ; Mexico ; Namibia ; Nepal ; Netherlands ; Nigeria ; Pakistan ; Peru ; Philippines ; Poland ; Qatar ; Republic of Korea ; Senegal ; Slovakia ; Somalia ; Spain ; Sudan ; Togo ; Ukraine ; Uruguay ; and Venezuela.

The President of the Human Rights Council in 2020 is Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva.  The Council's four Vice Presidents are Nasir Ahmad Andisha of Afghanistan, Socorro Flores Liera of Mexico, Juraj Podhorský of Slovakia and Yackoley Kokou Johnson of Togo.

For further information and media requests, please contact Rolando Gómez (+ 41 22 917 9711 / rgomez@ohchr.org) or Sarah Lubbersen (+ 41 22 917 9813 / slubbersen@ohchr.org)

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For use of the information media; not an official record 

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