UN Human Rights Council

Last updated 14 September 2021

Coronavirus Response

In a July 2021 resolution (A/HRC/47/L.1), the UNHRC highlighted key challenges faced by civil society that were exacerbated or engendered by COVID-19 and the response to the pandemic. The resolution recognized the role of civil society during the pandemic and in recovery efforts.


The United Nations Human Rights Council is the principal UN intergovernmental body responsible for human rights. Founded on 15 March 2006 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, through Resolution 60/251, the Human Rights Council is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly of the United Nations and was established to replace the Commission on Human Rights.  Made up of 56 member states, the Commission on Human Rights had convened annually since 1946, and like the Human Rights Council, was headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.  The mission of the Commission on Human Rights was “to weave the international legal fabric that protects our fundamental rights and freedoms.” At its sixty-second session in 2006, the Commission adopted a resolution to conclude its work and refer reports on human rights issues to the new Human Rights Council.

The Human Rights Council continues many of the programs of the Commission on Human Rights, including managing working groups on human rights issues and creating Special Rapporteurs for particular human rights questions. The main program of the Human Rights Council is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).  The goal of the UPR is to offer the international community an opportunity to examine how well individual states are complying with international human rights law.  The UPR applies human rights standards defined in documents such as the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other human rights instruments to the regulatory framework of individual countries.

There are 47 member states of the Human Rights Council. The members are elected from among the member states of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Members are elected by secret ballot and the seats on the Council are proportionately distributed among regional groups.  There are thirteen seats for African states, eight for Latin American and Caribbean States, thirteen for Asian states, six for Eastern European States, and seven for Western European and other states.

The Human Rights Council Bureau, comprised of a President and three Vice Presidents, is responsible for the procedural and organizational leadership of the Council.  The President chairs the Universal Periodic Review, calls informational meetings to discuss resolutions, and performs similar administrative tasks. The Council elects the President and the Vice-Presidents each year from among the representatives of the members of the committee.

The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee exists “to provide expertise to the Council in the manner and form requested by the Council, focusing mainly on studies and research-based advice.”  Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, “Institution-building of the United Nations Human Rights Council” § 75 (18 Jun. 2007).  The Committee has 18 members, and like the full Human Rights Council, its members are elected and seats are reserved for particular regions.  African states have five seats on the Committee, Asian states have five seats, Eastern European states have two seats, Latin American and Caribbean states have three seats, and Western European and other states have three seats.  Each member of the committee serves for three years and can be reelected once.  The Advisory Committee’s role is exclusively consultative.  The Committee is instructed to focus “mainly on studies and research-based advice.  Further, such expertise shall be rendered only upon the latter’s request.” Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, “Institution-building of the United Nations Human Rights Council” § 75 (18 Jun. 2007).

In addition to the Bureau and the Advisory committee, the Council has several working groups studying human rights issues and maintains the Special Rapporteur projects of the Commission on Human Rights.

Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Members 47
Established April 2006
Founding Document Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly, 60/251,
“Human Rights Council” (3 April 2006)
Head President of the Council
Governing Bodies The President and three Vice Presidents comprise the Bureau.
Key Human Rights Agreements Charter of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Other UN human rights instruments that are binding on individual member states
Key Judicial Bodies The UNHRC does not have judicial bodies. Through the Universal Periodic Review, the members of the UNHRC examine and report on the human rights practices of other members, but the UPR is not a judicial body.

COUNTRY – TERM EXPIRY DATE (as of February 2020)

Burkina Faso 2021
Cameroon 2021
Eritrea 2021
Somalia 2021
Togo 2021
Bahrain 2021
Bangladesh 2021
Fiji 2021
India 2021
Philippines 2021
Bulgaria 2021
Czech Republic 2021
Argentina 2021
Bahamas 2021
Uruguay 2021
Denmark 2021
Austria 2021
Italy 2021
Mauritania 2022
Sudan 2022
Namibia 2022
Indonesia 2022
Japan 2022
Korea 2022
Marshall Islands 2022
Armenia 2022
Poland 2022
Brazil 2022
Venezuela 2022
Germany 2022
Netherlands 2022
Libya 2022
Gabon 2023
Malawi 2023
Senegal 2023
China 2023
Nepal 2023
Pakistan 2023
Uzbekistan 2023
Russia 2022
Ukraine 2023
Bolivia 2023
Cuba 2023
Mexico 2023
France 2023
United Kingdom 2023
Côte d’Ivoire 2023
Freedom of Association Legal Protection Charter of the United Nations;
Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Resolution on Freedom of Assembly and Association;and
other UN human rights instruments that are binding on individual member states
Civil Society Participation Ability to Participate in UNHRC Activities Economic and Social Council resolution
1996/31 (25 July 1996)
A Practical Guide for Civil Society: Civil society space and the United Nations human rights system (2014)
Registration Process “The Participation of NGOs in the Human Rights Council shall be based on the arrangements and practices observed by the Commission of Human Rights, including Economic and Social Council Resolution 1996/31 of 25 July 1996. Participation of NGOs in the regular and special sessions of the HRC, as well as the sessions of its working group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), is limited to NGOs enjoying consultative status with ECOSOC.”
Registered CSOs Search CSOs Accreditation Database

Below are the founding documents of UNHRC and other important documents relating to the organization.

General Assembly resolution 60/251 establishing the Human Rights Council 2006
Institution-building of the United Nations Human Rights Council – Resolution 5/1 2006
Universal Periodic Review –  Decision 6/102 2007
Modalities and practices for the universal periodic review process PRST/8/1 2008
Annual report UNHRC Annual

The Universal Periodic Review

Perhaps one of the most significant innovations of the UN Human Rights Council to international human rights law is the creation of the Universal Periodic Review.  According to the Human Rights Council, “The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations.  As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.”

The General Assembly created the Universal Periodic Review process in the same resolution that replaced the Commission on Human Rights with the Human Rights Council.  The resolution explains that the Review is to examine, “based on objective and reliable information, […] the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments.”  See the Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, 60/251 § 5(e) (15 Mar. 2006).

The UN Human Rights Council conducts the UPR during the three sessions of the UPR working group each year.  During each session, several states are subject to review.  In preparation for the review under the UPR, each state produces a report about its own compliance with international human rights standards.  (Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1 § 15(a).  The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) prepares a separate report, compiling information from treaty bodies, special procedures, and other sources.  § 15(b).  The OHCHR also compiles a summary of information provided by other relevant stakeholders, such as human rights NGOs.  Each state’s review is facilitated by a “troika” of other member states.

Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council

When the Human Rights Council replaced the Commission on Human Rights in 2006, the responsibility for creating Special Procedures passed to the Human Rights Council.   A Special Procedure is a mandate for an individual (called a “Special Rapporteur”) or a working group (usually composed of five members) to examine a particular human rights issue.  Mandates may either be thematic or country specific.  The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is an example of a thematic mandate, and the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Cambodia is an example of a country mandate.  There are currently 44 thematic mandates and 12 country mandates.

Resolution on the Rights of Freedom of Assembly and Association

During the 15th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in September of 2010, the Human Rights Council passed the Resolution on The Rights of Freedom of Assembly and Association. In addition to affirming the right to peaceful assembly and association, the Resolution 15/21 calls for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to monitor and “study trends, developments and challenges in relation to the exercise of these rights, and to make recommendations on ways and means to ensure the promotion and protection of” these rights. The first Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai of Kenya began his duties in 2011 and began his second term in 2014. The second Special Rapporteur Clément Nyaletsossi Voule of Togo began his duties in 2017.

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate includes monitoring the global environment for freedom of assembly and association, reporting twice annually to the UN, conducting fact-finding country missions and sending communications to governments. Maina Kiai issued a number of reports on implementation of peaceful assembly and associations, including recommendations to governments and CSOs.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur was extended for an additional period of three years in September 2013 and in June 2016.

Resolution on Civil Society Space

The resolution on Civil Society Space was initiated by the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Lithuania, Maldives, Mexico, and United States of America. It was adopted in the 32nd session and commits States to create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for civil society (A/HRC/32/31). It urges states to:

  • Ensure that civil society actors can seek, secure and use resources.
  • Maintain accessible domestic procedures for the establishment or registration of organizations.
  • Ensure that civil society can input into potential implications of legislation when it is being developed, debated, implemented or reviewed.
  • Adopt clear laws and policies providing for effective disclosure of information.
  • Ensure access to justice, and accountability, and to end impunity for human rights violations and abuses against civil society actors.

The resolution further requests the High Commissioner to report in 2018 on best practices for ensuring civil society involvement with regional and international organisations, including the United Nations.

Resolution on the Promotion, Protection and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet

During the 20th Session of the Human Rights Council in June 2012, the Human Rights Council passed the Resolution on the Promotion, Protection and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet. The resolution “takes note of the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression” and “affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” That several countries which impose severe Internet censorship regimes felt compelled to join the 80 co-sponsors of the resolution shows that these countries are uncomfortable owning up to their actions. The resolution is “principally useful for public shaming,” according to Human Rights Watch.

In 2016 Sweden introduced a resolution on “the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the internet”, supported by a core group of Brazil, Nigeria, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States of America. The resolution was adopted at HRC32. The resolution strongly emphasizes human rights approach, while expanding access to the Internet and for the Internet to be open and accessible. It focuses on the need to protect human rights online to achieve Agenda 2030 on sustainable development, and more closely examines the digital divide affecting women and persons with disabilities.

Resolution on Equal Participation in Political and Public Affairs

During the 33rd Session of the UNHRC on September 30 2016, the Human Rights Council adopted the Resolution on Equal Participation in Political and Public Affairs. The resolution tasks the OHCHR to prepare guidelines on public participation in consultation with civil society and other actors. It provides an important step forward in framing the content of the ‘right to participation’ and in reminding governments that participation is not a will, but a right.

Civil Society and the COVID-19 Pandemic

In July 2021, the UNHRC issued a resolution (A/HRC/47/L.1) that highlighted key challenges faced by civil society that were exacerbated or engendered by COVID-19 and the response to the pandemic. The resolution was titled “Civil society space: COVID-19: the road to recovery and the essential role of civil society” and recognized the role of civil society during the pandemic and in recovery efforts.

Civil Society Participation in the Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council invites broad participation by civil society organizations as sources of information on states’ compliance with international human rights standards.

As discussed above, for each state undergoing the Universal Periodic Review process, the OHCHR compiles a summary of information from stakeholders, including human rights and other civil society organizations, about the country under review.

UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Consultative Status

The Human Rights Council maintains that “participation of NGOs in the Human Rights Council shall be based on the arrangements and practices observed by the Commission of Human Rights, including Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 of 25 July 1996.  The participation of NGOs in the regular and special sessions of the Human Rights Council, as well as the sessions of its working group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), is limited to NGOs enjoying consultative status with ECOSOC.”

Organizations that hope to gain consultative status with ECOSOC and the Human Rights Council must meet certain requirements.  These requirements include:

  1. The organization’s activities must be relevant to the work of ECOSOC;
  2. The NGO must have been in existence (officially registered) for at least 2 years in order to apply;
  3. The NGO must have a democratic decision-making mechanism; and
  4. The major portion of the organization’s funds should be derived from contributions from national affiliates, individual members, or other non-governmental components.”

Further information regarding the application process.

If the Committee on NGOs – which is a standing committee of the ECOSOC – accepts an application, it may recommend approval to ECOSOC.  If ECOSOC grants final approval, then the NGO gains consultative status.  The website of the NGO Branch – which services the Committee on NGOs – lists over 3,000 NGOs with Special, General, or Roster Consultative status.

The Committee has come under criticism for deviating from the guiding principles in ESOSOC resolution 1996/31 in its handling of applications for consultative status and review of quadrennial reports.

The Social Forum

The Social Forum is an annual three-day meeting convened by the Human Rights Council which provides an additional opportunity within the United Nations system to exchange ideas and concerns about human rights in all regions worldwide. The Human Rights Council describes the Social Forum as “a unique space for open and interactive dialogue between the representatives of Member States, civil society, including grass-roots organizations, and intergovernmental organizations on issues relating to the national and international environment needed for the promotion of the enjoyment of all human rights by all.”

The Social Forum has existed since 2002, but it came under the direction of the Human Rights Council in 2007.  The Forum explores the promotion and protection of human rights in different context each year.

While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change.  If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at ngomonitor@icnl.org.

General News

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Addresses the UN Human Rights Council on “New And Perilous Phase” in Afghanistan (September 2021)
“Deeply troubling information has reached us regarding Taliban raids on offices of some non-governmental organisations and civil society groups…. A growing number of protests have taken place in Kabul and Ghor, Ghazni, Takhar, Herat, Niimroz and Balkh provinces. Taliban forces have reportedly used increasing violence against protesters and journalists, including live ammunition, batons and whips.”

Rights groups call for rejecting Bahrain’s candidacy for presidency of UNHRC (December 2020)
A group of over 20 rights groups have called on Asia-Pacific bloc of countries to reject Bahrain’s candidacy for the United Nations Human Rights Council. The letter, which was published on the website of MENA rights group, read: “We contend that Bahrain’s ongoing suppression of fundamental civil liberties, systematic violations of human rights, routine use of reprisals against activists, journalists, and human rights defenders and the government’s steadfast refusal to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms renders it an unsuitable candidate for President of the HRC.”

Human Rights Council picks up again after COVID suspension (June 2020)
After a three month long COVID-19-enforced break, the UN Human Rights Council resumed in June 2020. Opening the 35th meeting of the 43rd session of the Council in the unusual setting of the Assembly Hall to comply with social distancing requirements, current Council President, Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, gave the floor to Burkina Faso, coordinator of the African Group. Ambassador Tichy-Fisslberger fixed the provisional date of the Urgent Debate on “current racially inspired human rights violations, systematic racism, police brutality and the violence against peaceful protests” for Wednesday 17 June at 3pm.

End of Mission Statement on Mission to Zimbabwe (September 2019)
“In my capacity as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, I conclude today the first official visit carried by a United Nations Special Procedures mandate holder in [Zimbabwe], which took place from 17 to 27 September 2019…. I have emphasized in my different meetings with government authorities that assemblies should be presumed lawful and peaceful.”

Resolution on civil society space: engagement with international and regional organizations (July 2018)
In its 38th session, the Human Rights Council adopted the resolution focusing on civil society’s engagement with international and regional organizations. The resolution affirms that the participation of civil society is a critical contribution to democratic societies and to prevention of violence, insecurity, and conflict; and urges Member States to develop and share good practices on enabling environment for civil society.

Peaceful Protest Resolution: same rights that people have offline must also be protected online (July 2018)
Besides reaffirming the principles in relation to the peaceful protests, the resolution notes that human rights, including freedom of peaceful assembly, of expression and of association, apply in the online sphere as well; and requests the UN High Commissioner to prepare a thematic report on new technologies and their impact on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of assemblies. The resolution further encourages the States to compile practical recommendations based on best practices which could serve as a useful tool for proper management of assemblies.

Clément Voule on freedom of assembly and association (July 2018)
UN Special Rapporteur on rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association gave an interview to Human Rights House Foundation on the sidelines of the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council. Mr. Voule introduces his aims and priorities, discusses cooperation with civil society, and highlights the importance of the rights to assembly and association.

UN OHCHR report on civic space in multilateral institutions (May 2018)
The report analyses procedures and practices in respect of civil society involvement with regional and international organizations, including United Nations. The report emphasizes that civil society engagement is key for meaningful international discussions, for decisions to be informed by what is happening on the ground, and for a full range of perspectives and experiences needed to be heard.

Poland should ensure free and full participation at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (May 2018)
UN Special Rapporteurs urge Poland to ensure meaningful participation at the COP 24, free from restrictions and undue surveillance. UN experts express concerns about new safety and security law that could hamper civil society’s participation at the climate talks which will take place in Poland at the end of the year.

Enhance the process to select new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (March 2018)
More than 70 civil society organizations has put forward proposals to revitalize and enhance the selection process for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mr. Clément Voule is the new Un Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Assembly and Association (March 2018)
The UN Human Rights Council appointed Mr. Nyaletsossi Clément Voule as new UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly and association mandate holder. Since its creation in September 2010, the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur has been critical in providing practical guidance to States on how they should implement their human rights obligations as they relate to association and assembly, and has consistently stood up for those whose rights were violated.

Global Human Rights Update: standing up for human rights in the 70th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (March 2018)
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warns of widespread actions to undermine civil society, public participation and human rights defenders, but also notes some encouraging developments including citizens and movements pushing back to defend civic space.

On the human rights challenge of states of emergency in the context of countering terrorism (February 2018)
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism finds that counter terrorism laws and practices constitute and enable de facto and permanent states of emergency, and as such, they are an under-supervised source of human rights violations globally. For example in Turkey, by the end of 2017 22 emergency decrees were promulgated with many regulating matters unrelated to state of emergency and used to limit various legitimate activities of civil society actors.

Zeid calls Iranian authorities to handle the protests with great care (January 2018)
Protesters “have a right to be heard”, stated Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. There must be “a concerted effort by the authorities to ensure that all security forces respond in a manner that is proportionate and strictly necessary, and fully in line with international law”.

Growing number of reprisals against human rights defenders cooperating with the UN (December 2017)
The number of individuals and groups, who have suffered reprisals and intimidation because of their cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights has increased – states the report A/HRC/36/31 of the UN Secretary-General. The report found 29 countries where cases – ranging from travel bans and asset-freezing to detention and torture – have been documented which is the highest number since the annual reports were instituted in 2010.

Resolution on the human rights situation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (December 2017)
The Human Rights Council concluded its 27th special session with a resolution condemning the alleged systematic and gross violations of human rights and abuses committed against the Rohingya Muslim community and other minorities in Rakhine state of Myanmar, and requesting the  High Commissioner for Human Rights to track and report progress, and prepare a comprehensive report.

Poland’s reforms severely undermine independence of judiciary – UNSR (December 2017)
UNSR on the independence of judges and lawyers warns that the bill on the Supreme Court and the bill on the National Council of the Judiciary that the Polish President signed into law on 20 December places judiciary under the political control of the ruling party. The UNSR emphasizes that “The independence of the judiciary, as enshrined in the Polish constitution and international human rights instruments, must be guaranteed by the State.”

Strong, legally binding treaty on environmental rights urgently needed in Latin America and Caribbean (November 2017)
10 UN rights experts are urging governments to achieve a binding law to implement Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration. The treaty shall promote access to information on the environment, foster participation in decision-making processes affecting it, and provide access to justice in environmental matters.  “To protect the environment, we must protect the human rights of people who work to defend the environment,” emphasized Special Rapporteur John H. Knox.

UN experts call for dropping of terror charges against leading human rights defenders in Turkey (November 2017)
“Most of these accusations of terrorism are based solely on actions such as downloading data protection software, publishing opinions disagreeing with the Government’s anti-terrorism policies, organizing demonstrations, or providing legal representation for other activists.” – voiced the 5 UN Special Rapporteurs and called for immediate release of all the human rights defenders and lawyers concerned in these cases.

International organizations fail on freedom of information, finds UN Special Rapporteur (October 2017)
International organizations, including the UN, fall far behind governments in creating legal frameworks and processes to promote and enable access to information – finds the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in his statement to the UN General Assembly. His report A/72/350 explores freedom of information policies in the context of international organizations, placing specific focus on the United Nations system. “Particularly in an era of misinformation and propaganda, I urge the UN and other international organizations, as well as States and civil society, to take up the cause of freedom of information.”- said Mr. Kaye.

Situation in Catalonia should be resolved through political dialogue (October 2017)
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid has called for an independent investigation into all acts of violence during the referendum organized by authorities in the autonomous region of Catalonia. UN Special Rapporteurs also voiced that “Regardless of the lawfulness of the referendum, the Spanish authorities have a responsibility to respect those rights that are essential to democratic societies”.

Kenya must lift protest ban and halt attacks on the judiciary and civil society, warn UN experts ahead of presidential election (October 2017)
It is precisely when political tensions are high that governments should do their utmost to let people express their grievances and to protect their rights. Participants in peaceful protests are exercising and defending their legitimate right to voice their demands and express dissent,” 5 Special Rapporteurs urged.  The experts also called for prompt investigation into all allegations of police brutality and highlighted the importance of preserving independence of the judiciary and civil society.

Rising reprisals against human rights defenders cooperating with the UN 
(September 2017)
The number of countries where “people engaging with the United Nations experienced intimidation, harassment, threats online and offline, derogatory media campaigns, travel bans, arbitrary arrests and detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, disbarment, and dismissal from their posts, amongst other measures” grew to 29 from June 2016 to May 2017 finds the report of the Secretary General.

2017: Darker and more dangerous (September 2017)
In his opening statement to the Human Rights Council at its 36th session Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights updates the Council on human rights issues in 40 countries and warns that its often the governments who deteriorate human rights in their efforts to counter terrorism, and that governments are often more ready to defend human rights outside of their country and act selectively. Zeid also draws attention that human rights defenders engaging with UN mechanisms are increasigly at risks, and calls for developing a stronger, more unified voice in world affairs on behalf of human rights and

Venezuela: widespread and systematic use of excessive force and arbitrary detentions against demonstrators (August 2017)
Extensive human rights violations and abuses have been committed in the context of anti-Government protests in Venezuela and point to “the existence of a policy to repress political dissent and instill fear in the population to curb demonstrations,” founds OHCHR report.

Special Rapporteurs calls for Urgent action to safeguard people’s online rights amid rampant State censorship (June 2017)
The 2017 report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expressionexamines the states’ role in undermining freedom of expression online, evaluates the role of digital access providers outlines a series of steps that the digital access industry can take to identify, prevent, and mitigate risks to freedom of expression and related human rights.

Former Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai in Geneva for release of his final United Nations reports (June 2017)
Former United Nations Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai will be in Geneva June 6-9, 2017, for the release of his final four reports to the Human Rights Council (Thematic report: Mapping the achievements of civil society, Country Report: United States of America, Follow-up Country Report: United Kingdom, Communications report)and for a handful of side-events.

Denial of access and lack of cooperation with UN bodies will not diminish scrutiny of a State’s human rights record (June 2017)
Read the opening Statement by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the 35th session of the Human Rights Council.

Human Rights Council concludes clustered interactive dialogue on freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and on education
(June 2017)
The Human Rights Council in its midday meeting concluded its clustered interactive dialogue with Professor Annalisa Ciampi, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and with Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education.

US Calls for Reform of the UN Human Rights Council (June 2017)
The United States Ambassador to the United Nations has warned that the U.S. might withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council. Nikki Haley spoke Tuesday at the opening of UNHRC’s three-week meeting. She said the Council needs to make reforms. If that happens, she said, the U.S. might remain a member.

A thank you message from former Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai – and news on work yet to come
(May 2017)
Read this outgoing message from Maina Kiai, former Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association.

Belarus Backsliding Badly on Human Rights: U.N. Report
(May 2017)
The Belarus government has returned to a policy of large-scale repression, causing a dramatic deterioration in human rights, according to a report published on Monday for submission to next month’s session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

U.N. rights council: Strong message sent to Philippines on killings
(May 2017)
Nearly 50 states voiced concern regarding extra-judicial killings related to the so-called “war on drugs” in the Philippines during a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session on Thursday dedicated to the country’s review. The Council adopted a final report comprising 257 recommendations submitted by 95 states and told the Philippines to report back “with a clear position” on the recommendations at its September session.

CSOs play a key role in the UPR: An overview of the Second Cycle
(April 2017)
After the adoption of the reports of the 26th Working Group session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Human Rights Council (HRC) held its usual general debate on the UPR. On 17 March 2017 HRC Member States, Observer States, and civil society organisations (CSOs), discussed several issues regarding the UPR mechanism, including: general outcomes of the seond cycle, follow-up and reporting under Item 6, as well as the expectations for the third cycle.

The Civil Society Compendium Launch
(April 2017)
On Wednesday 5 April, UPR Info launched its latest publication The Civil Society Compendium: A comprehensive guide for civil society organisations (CSOs) engaging in the Universal Periodic Review. The event welcomed approximately 100 people from CSOs and Permanent Missions alike and was opened by H.E. Ambassador Mr Julian Braithwaite of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (U.K.). Read the Guide here.

Belarus: UN expert decries Government’s return to mass violence against peaceful protestors
 (March 2017)
United Nations-appointed independent expert on the human rights situation in Belarus has expressed dismay over the Government’s return to the policy of violent mass repression against peaceful demonstrators, non-governmental organizations, journalists and political opponents, and is calling on the authorities there to stop harassment and violence.

Increased monitoring and assessment in follow-up to UPR recommendations
(March 2017)
UPR Info recently monitored the adoptions of the Final Working Group Reports for the 26th Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). 14 States gave their final responses to any recommendations they had left pending since their review in November 2016. These adoptions, which took place on 16 – 17 March 2017, formally closed the second cycle of the UPR.

Ugandan CSOs finalise suggested implementation matrix 
(March 2017)
In December 2016, over 100 Ugandan CSOs gathered in a five-day workshop in Kampala to analyse the UPR recommendations that the state had received at its UPR in November. Divided into thematic clusters, the participants began to develop a CSO suggested implementation matrix outlining their expectations on the Government during the implementation process. In the matrix, CSOs proposes goals to be achieved by implementing each of the 2nd cycle UPR recommendations made to Uganda and pair them with proposed Government implementation actions. Moreover, the matrix provides indicators to track implementation progress and suggests which ministries and state institutions are responsible for what recommendations.

64 States commit to key UPR principles 
(March 2017)
On 17 March 2017, the United Kingdom delivered a Joint Statement on behalf of Brazil, Morocco, Paraguay, and 60 other UN Member States to the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). Following the conclusion of the second UPR cycle, with the adoptions of Addenda to the Working Groups Reports of the 11 States reviewed in November 2017, the Vice-President oversaw the HRC Item 6 General Debate, during which the United Kingdom took the floor to voice the commitment of 64 States to 5 core UPR principles for the third cycle.

Philippines’ request for deferral of UPR rejected (February 2017)
The Permanent Mission of the Philippines issued a Note Verbale on 23 January 2017 addressed to all Permanent Missions and to the President of the Human Rights Council requesting to defer its examination under the UPR Working Group, which was to take place on 8 May, to 2017. The official motive of the request was for “administrative considerations” due to the new administration’s agenda focused on governance and development. The Philippines also took the opportunity to reiterate its commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Strengthening Civil Society Advocacy in the Universal Periodic Review
(December 2016)
On Tuesday 13th December, UPR Info co-hosted the event, Strengthening Civil Society Advocacy in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), with the Permanent Missions of Ireland and Switzerland, to launch its newest publication UPR Info Pre-sessions: Empowering human rights voices from the ground. Approximately 20 Permanent Missions and 80 people attended the event.

Authorities should not interfere with internal affairs of associations, Kiai tells African Court in Rwanda case (January 2017)
Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has filed an amicus curiae brief before Africa’s top human rights court stating that authorities which interfere with the internal affairs of associations violate the international right to freedom of association.

Factsheet: Assembly & association rights in the workplace
(October 2016)
The Special Rapporteur’s factsheet summarizing the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the workplace, presented in an easy-to use “yes/no” format, with hyperlinks to source materials.

Final presentation to UN General Assembly, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association
(October 2016)
In his final presentation to the General Assembly today, Maina Kiai reflected on his 5½ years as the United Nations’ first-ever Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and warned that the environment for exercising civic freedoms remained hazardous worldwide.

ECNL supports the UN OHCHR in its work on the right to participation
 (September 2016)
ECNL/ICNL and  partners under the Civic Space Initiative project organized a side event on this topic during the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Canada, UNHCR and Open Society Foundations seek to increase refugee resettlement through private sponsorship
(September 2016)
The Government of Canada, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Open Society Foundations have agreed to launch a joint initiative aimed at increasing private sponsorship of refugees around the world. Research demonstrates that privately sponsored refugees tend to have relatively early, positive integration and settlement outcomes, thanks in part to the social support provided by sponsors.

On corporate human rights, Australia’s actions speak louder than words (August 2016)
Leading civil society and business groups have independently released key reports on Australia’s compliance with international corporate human rights standards this month.

Ethiopia’s Bloody Crackdown: The Case for International Justice (August 2016)
[…]International scrutiny of Ethiopia’s rights record has also been lacking despite its June election to the UN Security Council, and its membership on the UN Human Rights Council – which requires it to uphold the “highest standards of human rights” and cooperate with UN monitors. Ethiopia has refused entry to all UN special rapporteurs since 2007. Among the outstanding requests are from the special rapporteurs on torture, freedom of opinion and expression, and peaceful assembly.[…]

States Running for the Human Rights Council Participate in Pledging Event (July 2016)
Ahead of elections to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) this fall, Amnesty International and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) hosted a Q and A at UN headquarters in New York with candidate States.

News Archive

UN review of Hungary shows country ‘treats human rights as a public enemy’ (May 2016)

Time to Get Tough on Tajikistan’s Human Rights Crisis (May 2016)

UN experts provide a roadmap to avoid human rights violations during protests (March 2016)

Zeid urges Yemen to reverse decision to expel top UN human rights official (January 2016)

UN Human Rights Council Calls Special Session on Burundi (December 2015)

Cutting aid to support refugees will allow extremism to thrive, Kiai writes in Guardian (November 2015)

Criticism is no threat to sovereignty (September 2015)

Study on best practices, experiences and challenges and ways to overcome them with regard to the promotion, protection and implementation of the right to participate in public affairs (July 2015)

Survey on Good Practices in the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (October 2015)

OHCHR calls for input: How to create and maintain civil society space? (June 2015)

Europe must uphold values of human rights, democracy, UN chief says in Strasbourg visit (June 2015)

Human Rights Council holds interactive dialogue on extreme poverty and on counter-terrorism (June 2015)

UN Human Rights Council discussed the report of Belarus (May 2015)