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 sessions 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.
- Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 of July 1996.
- Check your NGO in the ECOSOC NGO database.
- For information on how your NGO can apply for ECOSOC consultative status.
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.
Information note for NGO engagement during the 54th session – Subject to change (updated as of 6 September 2023)
1. A practical guide for NGO participants (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 - Chinese - English - French - Russian - Spanish. Please note that this practical guide might contain information that is no longer relevant or accurate. For the most updated information, please consult the Information note above. Before you request for accreditation to the HRC/UPR sessions and related meetings, please ensure that you have finalized the annual accreditation of your NGO with the United Nations Office at Geneva. For more information on annual accreditations, please consult the following website: www.ungeneva.org/en/engage/civil-society.
2. Written statements for the 54th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC54) by NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC: The online submission platform (https://ngoreg.ohchr.org) for NGO written statements for HRC54 will open on Wednesday 9 August 2023, at 12:00 pm (noon), Geneva time. Deadline: Wednesday 23 August 2023, at 12:00 pm (noon), Geneva time. For any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with OHCHR’s Civil Society Team at: [email protected]
IMPORTANT: Please make sure to get acquainted with the updated guidelines on the process and the platform of submission of NGO written statements (please see point 3 below).
4. Link to Oral Statement Registration for HRC 54. Download here the guidelines on how to use the online registration system for Oral Statements English - Français - Español. The online system to register for oral statements will open on Tuesday 5 September at 14:00 (Geneva time - CEST). Please note that NGOs are requested to re-register, as credentials used for previous sessions cannot be brought forward. NGOs that have already registered for written statements will have to use the same credentials. All participants are advised to test their credentials before the opening of the system.
5. NGO joint-statements. NGOs can now co-sponsor other NGOs’ statements exclusively through the online registration system NGOREG. Please find additional instructions on this procedure in the Information note above. Co-sponsorship forms are no longer accepted.
6. NGO Parallel Events During the 54th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC54)
As implemented at the 51st, 52nd and 53rd sessions of the Human Rights Council, the Secretariat intends to allocate some space for side events at a reduced level compared to the pre-COVID-19 period due to the ongoing renovations under the Strategic Heritage Plan and their impact on the availability of meeting rooms at Palais des Nations. Hence only a reduced number of side events may be organized, as a result of which it may not be possible to accommodate all requests. Rooms will therefore be allocated according to availability and should only be requested online. Please note that to accommodate as many requests as possible, a maximum of one side event per NGO may be requested. Each side event will last a maximum of one hour. The same requirements and practices as in the pre-COVID19 period will apply.The platform to request an NGO parallel event (https://ngoreg.ohchr.org/) for HRC54 will open on Wednesday 9 August 2023, at 12:00 pm (noon), Geneva time. The deadline for submitting such requests is Wednesday 23 August 2023, at 12:00 pm (noon), Geneva time. For any questions please do not hesitate to contact OHCHR’s Civil Society Team at: [email protected].
8. Participating in the Human Rights Council by video message: [Download]. For the specific modalities for HRC51, please refer to the information note available under “Quick links”. Practical guidelines on how to create captions.
9. Calendar and deadlines for registration: pending update
For further information or assistance, please contact the NGO Liaison team of the Human Rights Council Secretariat at [email protected].