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Human Rights Council to Hold its Fifty-Fourth Regular Session from 11 September to 13 October 2023

06 September 2023

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold its fifty-fourth regular session from 11 September to 13 October 2023 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. 

The session will open at 10 a.m. on Monday, 11 September under the presidency of Ambassador Václav Bálek (Czech Republic).  The opening will be addressed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk.  The Council will be meeting in room XX of the Palais des Nations.

During the session, the Council will hold 29 interactive dialogues with Special Procedure mandate holders, expert mechanisms and investigative mechanisms.  It will hold interactive dialogues with the High Commissioner on his annual report, and on the human rights situations in Nicaragua and Sudan under agenda item two on the annual report of the High Commissioner and reports of his Office and the Secretary-General; in Belarus and Myanmar under agenda item four on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention; and in Ukraine and Haiti under agenda item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building.  Further, the Council will hold two enhanced interactive dialogues with the High Commissioner, one on racial justice in law enforcement, and the other on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

The Council will also hold an interactive dialogue with the Advisory Committee and five panel discussions on unilateral coercive measures and human rights, the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Council, youth and human rights, cyberbullying against children, and the rights of indigenous peoples.  It will additionally hear presentations of country and thematic reports from the Secretary-General, including his report on reprisals against those who seek to cooperate or have cooperated with the United Nations. 

Reports and oral updates will also be presented on the human rights situations in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Nicaragua under agenda item two; Ethiopia, Russian Federation, Syria, Burundi, Ukraine and Venezuela under agenda item four; and in South Sudan, Cambodia, Somalia, Central African Republic, Georgia and Yemen under agenda item 10.  Towards the end of the session, the Council will appoint a total of 12 mandate holders of Special Procedures, and seven members of its Advisory Committee.

The final outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of 14 States will also be considered, namely those of France, Tonga, Romania, Mali, Montenegro, Botswana, Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein and Serbia.  The Council will adopt outcome documents for each review, which will include recommendations for the improvement of the human rights situation in each country.  The general debate on agenda item six on the Universal Periodic Review is scheduled to take place on the morning of 4 October.

A detailed agenda and further information on the fifty-fourth session can be found on the session’s web page.  Reports to be presented are available here.  All meetings of this session are broadcast on UN Web TV.

First Week of the Session

The fifty-fourth regular session will open on Monday, 11 September under the presidency of Ambassador Václav Bálek, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, presenting an update to his annual report on the situation of human rights across the world.  That will be followed by three interactive dialogues: the first on the annual report of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar on the situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar; the second on the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka; and the third on an oral update of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan.

Continuing the theme of Afghanistan, on Tuesday, 12 September, the Council will hold an interactive dialogue on the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Afghanistan.  It will then hold two interactive dialogues with the High Commissioner, the first on his report on the human rights situation in Nicaragua and the second on his oral update on the situation in Sudan.  The Council will also hear an oral update by the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua and begin its general debate on agenda item two, which is scheduled to be held until the afternoon of Wednesday, 13 September.  Following the general debate, an interactive dialogue will be held with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, to be concluded on Thursday, 14 September.

Also on Thursday, the Council will hold its biennial panel discussion on unilateral coercive measures and human rights, which at its fifty-fourth session will be on the theme of the “Impact of unilateral coercive measures and overcompliance on the right to development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”  It will also hold two additional interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, and the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.  The latter will be concluded on Friday, 15 September, when two other interactive dialogues will also be held with the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons and on the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights within the context of addressing inequalities in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Second Week of the Session

The second week of the session will begin on Monday, 18 September with three interactive dialogues on the reports of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; and the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.  Tuesday, 19 September will also see three interactive dialogues held on the reports of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, and 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.

On Wednesday, 20 September, after two interactive dialogues with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development and the Special Rapporteur on the same subject, the Council will hear a briefing by the President of the Economic and Social Council and the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission.  It will also hear presentations of thematic reports prepared by the United Nations Secretary-General and the High Commissioner, the reports of the Working Group on the Right to Development and the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group to elaborate the content of an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies.  This will be followed by the general debate on agenda item three, on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, which will continue through the morning of Thursday, 21 September. 

Two additional interactive debates will also be held on Thursday with the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation.  There will also be three interactive dialogues held on Friday, 22 September with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi, and with the High Commissioner to hear his interim oral update on the situation of human rights in Belarus.  The Council will meet in private starting 5 p.m. to discuss its complaint procedure. 

Third Week of the Session

The third week will kick off on Monday, 25 September with the Council’s annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout its work and that of its mechanisms.  Two interactive dialogues will also be held to hear the oral update of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine and to discuss the report of the Independent International Fact-finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

On Tuesday, 26 September, the Council will hold its biennial panel discussion on youth and human rights, the theme of which will this year be young people’s engagement with climate change and global environmental decision-making processes.  After continuing its interactive dialogue with the Independent International Fact-finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Council will hold an interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner on his report on the human rights situation in Myanmar, and begin its general debate on agenda item four.

The general debate will continue through Wednesday, 27 September, when the Council will also hold a panel discussion on cyberbullying against children and its annual half-day panel discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples, which at this fifty-fourth session will be on the theme of the “Impact of certain development projects on the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular the impact on indigenous women.”  The general debate will also continue on Thursday, 28 September, followed by interactive dialogues with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, as well as on the Secretary-General’s report on alleged reprisals against those who seek to cooperate or have cooperated with the United Nations.  The latter dialogue will continue on Friday, 29 September, followed by a general debate on agenda item five.  The Council will then start its consideration of the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Reviews of 14 Member States, starting with France.

Fourth Week of the Session

The first half of the fourth week of the Council, from Monday, 2 October through to the morning of Wednesday, 4 October, will be dedicated to the consideration of the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Reviews of Tonga, Romania, Mali, Montenegro, Botswana, Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein and Serbia.  Following the final review on Wednesday, three general debates will be held on agenda item six on the Universal Periodic Review, agenda item seven on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, and on agenda item eight on follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. 

On Thursday afternoon, an extended interactive dialogue will be held with the High Commissioner and the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement on the “Promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers.”  That will be followed by an interactive dialogue with the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

On Friday, 6 October, the Council will continue the interactive dialogue with the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, followed by an oral update from the High Commissioner on the root causes and human rights impacts of religious hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.  This will be followed by another interactive dialogue on the report of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.  The Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination will also present its report elaborating complementary standards to strengthen and update international instruments against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all their aspects.  The day will conclude with the start of the general debate on agenda item nine on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance: follow-up to and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

Fifth Week of the Session

Monday, 9 October will begin with a continuation of the general debate on racism and racial discrimination, followed by an interactive dialogue on an oral update from the High Commissioner on the findings in the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Ukraine under agenda item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building.  In the afternoon, an enhanced interactive dialogue will be held on the reports of the High Commissioner and of the Team of International Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, followed by an interactive dialogue on the oral update of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on its technical assistance and capacity-building efforts for South Sudan.

On Tuesday, 10 October, four interactive dialogues will be held with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, and the High Commissioner and a dedicated independent human rights expert on the human rights situation in Haiti.  Wednesday, 11 October will begin with presentations of the Secretary-General and High Commissioner’s country reports and oral updates on Cambodia, Georgia and Yemen, followed by a general debate on agenda item 10 on technical assistance and capacity building.

From Wednesday afternoon, through Thursday, 12 October and until Friday, 13 October, the Council will take action on draft resolutions and decisions.  On Friday afternoon, the Council will elect Advisory Committee members for seven vacant seats, appoint 12 mandate holders of the Special Procedures, and adopt its session report before concluding the session. 

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 Human Rights Council at its fifty-fourth session is as follows: Algeria (2025); Argentina (2024); Bangladesh (2025); Belgium (2025); Benin (2024); Bolivia (Plurinational State of) (2023); Cameroon (2024); Chile (2025); China (2023); Costa Rica (2025); Côte d’Ivoire (2023); Cuba (2023); Czech Republic (2023); Eritrea (2024); Finland (2024); France (2023); Gabon (2023); Gambia (2024); Georgia (2025); Germany (2025); Honduras (2024); India (2024); Kazakhstan (2024); Kyrgyzstan (2025); Lithuania (2024); Luxembourg (2024); Malawi (2023); Malaysia (2024); Maldives (2025); Mexico (2023); Montenegro (2024); Morocco (2025); Nepal (2023); Pakistan (2023); Paraguay (2024); Qatar (2024); Romania (2025); Senegal (2023); Somalia (2024); South Africa (2025); Sudan (2025); Ukraine (2023); United Arab Emirates (2024); United Kingdom (2023); United States (2024); Uzbekistan (2023); and Viet Nam (2025).

The term of membership of each State expires in the year indicated in parentheses.

The President of the Human Rights Council in 2023 is Václav Bálek (Czech Republic).  The four Vice-Presidents are Muhammadou M.O. Kah (Gambia), Asim Ahmed (Maldives), Marc Bichler (Luxembourg), and Maira Mariela Macdonal Alvarez (Bolivia).  Ms. Alvarez will serve as Rapporteur of the Geneva-based body.

The dates and the programme of work of the fifty-fourth session are subject to change.

Information on the fifty-fourth session can be found here, including the annotated agenda and the reports to be presented.

For further information, please contact:
Pascal Sim, Human Rights Council Media Officer ([email protected]), David Díaz Martín, Human Rights Council Public Information Officer ([email protected]) or Verena Bongartz, Human Rights Council Public Information Officer ([email protected])

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Produced by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva for use of the media;
not an official record. English and French versions of our releases are different as they are the product of two separate coverage teams that work independently.

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