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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TO HOLD ITS THIRTY-SEVENTH REGULAR SESSION FROM 26 FEBRUARY TO 23 MARCH 2018

21 February 2018

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold its thirty-seventh regular session from 26 February to 23 March 2018 in the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The session will open at 9 a.m. on Monday, 26 February under the presidency of Ambassador Vojislav Šuc of Slovenia, with key statements delivered by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the President of the United Nations General Assembly Miroslav Lajèák, and the Federal Councilor and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis.

The Council will then commence a three-day high-level segment, during which senior dignitaries from around 100 States and international and regional organizations will highlight human rights issues of national and international interest and concern.

Other highlights of the session will include the discussion on the human rights situations in Syria and in Burundi with the respective Commissions of Inquiry, dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, and an examination of the human rights situation in Myanmar with the fact-finding mission and the Special Rapporteur on this country; a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action; and the consideration of the joint study on the contribution of transitional justice to the prevention of gross violations and abuses of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law, including genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and their recurrence. A high-level panel will also be held to discuss the implementation of recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group, with the participation of the President of the General Assembly.

Children’s rights, especially in the context of violence and armed conflict, will feature strongly on the Council’s agenda, and will be addressed through the dialogues with the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on children in armed conflict, and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. A high-level discussion on the situation of children’s rights in the Syrian Arab Republic and an annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child on protecting the rights of the child in humanitarian situations will also take place during the session. The Council will also examine the human rights of people with disabilities, in particular their access to justice.

The Council will consider and adopt the final outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of 14 States (Argentina, Benin, Czechia, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Japan, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Ukraine and Zambia); and it will appoint four special procedure mandate holders, three members of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, and two members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The detailed agenda of the session can be found here, further information on the thirty-seventh session here, and the reports to be presented are available here.

Week One of the Session

Following the opening of the session on Monday, 26 February, the Council will start its high-level segment, and at 3 p.m. hold its annual high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming, focused on challenges and opportunities for the promotion and protection of human rights in the light of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. The high-level segment will continue on Tuesday, 27 February and conclude on the following day. Also on Wednesday, the Council will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on foreign debt and the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, before the high-level panel discussion to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action takes place.

For the rest of the week, the Council will engage in dialogues with special procedure mandate holders: a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on torture and a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on countering terrorism and the Special Rapporteur on cultural rights on Thursday, 1 March; and on Friday, 2 March, an individual dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on truth and justice and the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, and a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment and the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

Week Two of the Session

The second week of the session will start with the Council’s annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child, on Monday, 5 March from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., which will address the protection of the rights of the child in humanitarian situations. At noon the same day, the Council will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children. On Tuesday, 6 March the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict will present their annual reports and engage in a clustered interactive dialogue with the Council, which will be followed by an interactive discussion with the Special Rapporteur on disabilities and the Independent Expert on albinism.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein will present his annual report and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General on the morning of Wednesday, 7 March, while the afternoon will see the Council engage in its annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities and discuss access to justice. The following day, on 8 March, the Council will hold the interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner followed by a presentation of the report of the Inter-Governmental Working Group on transnational corporations, and the presentation of a series of thematic reports of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General. The week will conclude with a general debate on item 3: promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, on Friday, 9 March.

Week Three of the Session

The Council will discuss country situations that deserve its attention during the third week of the session. On Monday, 12 March, it will hear update reports by the Special Rapporteur on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Special Rapporteur on Iran, the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, and the first oral update from the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar which recently began its work. This will be followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, with the participation of the Special Rapporteur on this country, civil society and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

On Tuesday, 13 March, the Council will address the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, during the high-level panel discussion on the human rights of children in Syria and an interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic that will present an update report on the latest human rights developments in the country. In the afternoon, from 3 p.m., the Council will hold an interactive dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan which will be presenting a report of its findings.

The consideration of country situations will continue on Wednesday, 14 March, with the presentation of an oral update by the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, as well as an oral update by the High Commissioner on the strengthening of the capacity of its field-based structure in Seoul in the context of the implementation of recommendations made by the group of independent experts on accountability in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and his oral update on progress in cooperation between Eritrea and his Office and its impact on the situation of human rights in this country. The Council will then hold a general debate on item 4: human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, which will be followed by an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, and a presentation of reports by the Forum on Minority Issues and by the Social Forum. At the end of the day, the Council will hear a report by the Chair of the Coordinating Committee of Special Procedures, and open a general debate on item 5: human rights bodies and mechanisms.

On Thursday, 15 March, the Human Rights Council will conclude its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, and then discuss outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of the following countries: Czechia, Argentina, Gabon, Ghana, Peru, Guatemala, Switzerland, and the Republic of Korea. The last day of the week will commence with a debate on promoting tolerance in the context of racial discrimination, and will be followed by the consideration of the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Benin, Pakistan, Zambia, Japan, Ukraine and Sri Lanka.

Week Four of the Session

The final week of the thirty-seventh session will start on Monday, 19 March with a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review. The Council will then hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories and discuss the reports of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, including a report of the OHCHR on a database of all business enterprises that have directly or indirectly enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Council will hold a general debate on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, and on the follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. In the afternoon, the Council will open item 9: racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. It will hear from the Inter-Governmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the Ad Hoc Committee, as well as from the High Commissioner, who will provide an oral update, which will be followed by a general debate on this agenda item.

Discussions under item 10: technical assistance and capacity-building will start on Tuesday, 20 March, with a high-level interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, to be followed by separate interactive dialogues, with the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali, and on the High Commissioner’s report on the situation of human rights in Libya.

The next day, 21 March, the Council will engage in an interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s oral update on Ukraine, and will hold an enhanced integrative dialogue on his oral update on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At 3 p.m., the Council will listen to the presentation of High Commissioner and Secretary-General country reports or oral briefings under item 2: annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General on Burundi, Colombia, Cyprus, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran and Sri Lanka, followed by a general debate on this agenda item. Later on Wednesday, under the agenda item 10: technical assistance and capacity-building, the Council will hear the presentation of other High Commissioner and Secretary-General country reports or oral briefings on Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti and Yemen, listen to the High Commissioner’s annual presentation on technical cooperation, and the presentation of the Report of the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation. At the end of the day, a general debate on technical assistance and capacity-building will be held. Finally, on Thursday, 22 March and Friday, 23 March, the Human Rights Council will take action on draft resolutions before closing its session.

Selection and Appointment of mandate holders

Before concluding its session, the President of the Council will appoint the following independent expert mandate holders: Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali; Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and three members 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 African States, Eastern European States and Latin American and Caribbean States.

The President will also appoint two independent experts of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples from the following indigenous sociocultural regions: Africa and North America.

At the end of its thirty-seventh session, the Human Rights Council will adopt ad hoc a report containing a summary of the proceedings of 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 thirty-seventh session is as follows: Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, and Venezuela.

The President of the Human Rights Council in 2018 is Vojislav Šuc, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations Office at Geneva. The Council’s four Vice Presidents are Antje Leendertse of Germany, François Xavier Ngarambé of Rwanda, Evan P. Garcia of the Philippines, and Marta Maurás of Chile.

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For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC18/003E