19 February 2020
The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold its forty-third regular session from 24 February to 20 March 2020 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, 24 February under the presidency of Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger of Austria. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, President of the General Assembly Tijani Muhammad-Bande, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, and the Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis will deliver keynote statements.
Following the session opening, the Council will hold a three-day high-level segment, during which senior officials from more than 90 States and international and regional organizations will highlight human rights issues of national and international interest and concern. On 27 February, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights will update the Council on the activities of her Office and the situation of human rights around the world.
In its annual high-level panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming on 24 February, the Council will review the 30 years of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The following day, a high-level panel will celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action addressing the rights of women. In its annual debate on the rights of persons with disabilities on 6 March, the Council will explore awareness-raising to foster respect for the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. On 13 March, in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Council will hold a debate on a midterm review of the International Decade for People of African Descent.
During the session, the Council will review over 100 reports on a wide range of human rights issues and situations of concern and will engage with nearly 30 human rights experts, groups and mechanisms.
Regarding the situation of human rights in Palestine, Ms. Bachelet will discuss with the Council her report on the implementation of the recommendations by the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the occupied Palestinian territory. She will also present the report on Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and the report on a database of business enterprises engaged in certain, specific activities in the occupied Palestinian territory that are either explicitly linked to Israeli settlements.
In an interactive dialogue on Eritrea, the Council will hear an oral update by the Special Rapporteur and an oral update on progress made in the cooperation between Eritrea and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and its impact on the human rights situation in the country.
In a dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council will examine the root causes of the human rights violations and abuses against the Rohingya Muslim minority and other minorities in Myanmar. It will also discuss the involvement of the United Nations in Myanmar with the Secretary-General and review the human rights situation in the country in a dialogue with the Special Rapporteur.
Also under its agenda item on reports by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council will examine reports on the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner in Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia, and oral or written updates or reports on the human rights situation in Nicaragua, Yemen, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, Iran and Cyprus.
Under its agenda item on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, the Council will address the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in a dialogue with the Special Rapporteur. It will also hear the High Commissioner’s oral update on the progress in the implementation of recommendations made by the group of independent experts on accountability in this country. It will review the human rights situation in Myanmar after hearing the presentation of a report by the Special Rapporteur. It will hold a dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan presenting its latest comprehensive report. On Iran, the Council will engage in a dialogue with the Special Rapporteur and will examine the Secretary-General’s report on the human rights situation in the country. It will hold an interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi following their oral update. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic will present its report to the Council and discuss the human rights situation in the country, as well as their thematic study on child rights in the country. The Council will also hear oral updates by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Venezuela.
Under technical assistance and capacity building, the Council will hold an enhanced interactive dialogue to discuss the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during which it will hear from the team of international experts on the situation in Kasai and from the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Council will hold an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on Mali; hear the oral report of the High Commissioner on Ukraine followed by an interactive dialogue; hold an interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report on Libya; and hold a high-level interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic, which will place special emphasis on preventing the recruitment and use of children in the armed conflict. It will also discuss the High Commissioner’s country report on Afghanistan.
As for thematic human rights issues, the Council will engage with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities on the issue of ableism in medical and scientific practice; Special Rapporteur on human rights and environment on good practices of States in recognizing the right to live in a safe and clean environment; and Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt on human rights violations in the context of the rising private indebtedness.
The debate will also encompass the questions of cultural rights defenders, human rights defenders operating in conflict and post-conflict situations, the situation of women and children impacted by albinism, as well as the guidelines for the implementation of the right to adequate housing.
The Council will hold interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteurs on the right to food; the right to privacy in the digital age; torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, including a focus on foreign fighters; freedom of religion; and on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material.
Further, it will consider the report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the High Commissioner’s report on the implementation of the action plan to combat intolerance, stigmatization, discrimination and violence against persons based on religion or belief.
The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee will present a study on the role of technical assistance and capacity-building in fostering mutually beneficial cooperation in promoting and protecting human rights, and a study on utilizing non-repatriated illicit funds with view to supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Council will consider the recommendations on education, language and the human rights of minorities that emerged from the November 2019 session of the Forum on Minority Issues; the Social Forum’s report on its 2019 meeting on the promotion and protection of the rights of children and youth through education; and the report by the open-ended intergovernmental Working Group on progress in drafting a legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights.
The Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights will present their annual report, while Ms. Bachelet will update the Council on successes, best practices and challenges in technical assistance and capacity-building efforts.
The Council will consider and adopt the final outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of 14 States (Italy, El Salvador, Gambia, Bolivia, Fiji, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Angola, Iran, Madagascar, Iraq, Slovenia, Egypt and Bosnia and Herzegovina).
At the end of the session, it will appoint Special Procedures mandate holders as follows: five members of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development and two members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and two country-specific mandate holders, on the situation of human rights in Somalia and on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.
The Council will further appoint 10 thematic mandate holders: on foreign debt, on human rights of older persons, on adequate housing, on contemporary forms of slavery, on extreme poverty, on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures, on the right to food, on the rights of indigenous peoples, on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, and on the situation of human rights defenders.
The Council will hold nine general debates during the session: the general debate on the High Commissioner’s oral update will start on 27 February and the general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights on 6 March. On 10 March, the Council will start the general debate on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention and will hold the general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms on 11 March.
The general debate on the Universal Periodic Review will take place on 13 March, and on 16 March, the Council will hold general debates on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, on the follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and on racism and racial discrimination. On 18 and 19 March, the general debate on technical assistance and capacity-building will take place.
On 19 and 20 March, the Council will take action on decisions and resolutions and will then conclude the session.
Further information on the forty-third session can be found here, including annotated agenda, detailed programme of work, and the reports to be presented.
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 forty-third session is as follows:
Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Libya, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Slovakia, Somalia, Spain, Sudan, Togo, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The President of the Human Rights Council in 2020 is Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva. The Council’s four Vice Presidents are Nasir Ahmad Andisha of Afghanistan,
Socorro Flores Liera of Mexico, Juraj Podhorský of Slovakia and Yackoley Kokou Johnson of Togo.
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