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NGO Participation in the Human Rights Council

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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 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.

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

Information note for NGO engagement during the 56th session – Subject to change (updated as of 13 June 2024)

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. New online registration platform “EVENTS” for the submission of requests for NGO side events and NGO oral and written statements at the 56th session of the HRC: creation of NGOs’ profiles

On a pilot basis to be implemented at the 56th regular session of the HRC (HRC56) (18 June – 12 July 2024), NGOs may submit their requests for NGO side events and NGO oral and written statements through the new online registration platform “EVENTS”, which is accessible at the following link: https://events.ohchr.org

IMPORTANT: When accessing the platform for the first time, NGOs will need first to create their unique profile. The creation of this account is crucial for NGOs’ planning to engage with the HRC as well as with multiple mechanisms. NGOs are therefore encouraged to carefully consult the updated Technical Guidelines for the creation of NGOs’ accounts in the EVENTS platform.

3. Written statements for HRC56 by NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC:

On a pilot basis to be implemented at HRC56, NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC may submit NGO Written Statements through the new online registration platform “EVENTS”, which is accessible at the following link: https://events.ohchr.org

IMPORTANT: Based on the results of implementation of adjustments to the practices of registration and processing at the previous session of the Council, the schedule of opening and closing dates for the online submission of NGO Written Statements at the 56th session of the Council will be as follows:

  • Registration of NGO Written Statements for Agenda Item 2 will open from Monday, 13 May 2024, at 12 noon (Geneva time) until Monday, 20 May 2024, at 12 noon (Geneva time);
  • Registration of NGO Written Statements for Agenda Items 3 and 4 will open from Monday, 20 May 2024, at 12 noon (Geneva time) until Monday, 27 May 2024, at 12 noon (Geneva time);
  • Registration of NGO Written Statements for Agenda Items 6, 9, and 10 will open from Monday, 27 May 2024, at 12 noon (Geneva time) until Monday, 3 June 2024, at 12 noon (Geneva time).

IMPORTANT: Please make sure to get acquainted ahead of time with the updated guidelines on the submission of NGO written statements (as of April 2024) that can be downloaded here to assist: English - Français - Español. Failure to comply with the admissibility requirements and procedures in place will result in the inability to process the respective written statements.

You are also encouraged to consult the Step-by-step guide on the submission of Written Statements on the new online registration platform “EVENTS”.

For any questions, please do not hesitate to contact OHCHR’s Civil Society Team at: [email protected].

4. Oral Statements at HRC56: Due to ongoing technical issues with the new online registration system, EVENTS, the registration process has been halted once again. Consequently, the registration will revert to the previous system, NGOREG (https://ngoreg.ohchr.org/).  NGOREG system is now open for NGO registration and will begin accepting registrations for oral statements on Friday, June 14, at 2 p.m. NGOs are required to register through NGOREG instead of EVENTS. As per usual practice, NGOs will need to create new credentials on NGOREG.

5. NGO Joint Statements: NGOs have the possibility of co-sponsoring other NGOs’ statements exclusively through the online registration system. Additional instructions on this procedure can be found in the step-by-step guide that will be published on this page shortly. Co-sponsorship forms in paper are no longer accepted.

6. NGO Side Events during the 56th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC56):

On a pilot basis to be implemented at HRC56, NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC may submit requests for NGO Side Events through the new online registration platform “EVENTS”, which is accessible at the following link: https://events.ohchr.org

IMPORTANT: Registration of requests for NGO Side Events for HRC56 will open from Monday, 6 May 2024at 12 noon (Geneva time) until Monday, 13 May 2024, at 12 noon (Geneva time).

It is reminded that space for NGO side events will continue being allocated at a reduced level. In the context of the renovations under the Strategic Heritage Plan, rooms will be allocated according to availability, and it may not be possible to accommodate all requests. 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.

For any questions, please do not hesitate to contact OHCHR’s Civil Society Team at: [email protected] .

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 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].

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