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Presidency & Membership
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Human Rights Council feature stories
Presidency & Membership
Human Rights Council feature stories
Syria: the most dangerous place for children?
Civil society actors give the Human Rights Council information on violations of children’s rights in Syria and recommendations on how to protect rights of these children.
16 March 2018
In conflicts and disasters, children's rights are among the worst hit
Tolerance for the abuse of children is so high that no matter what we learn of its scale, and the deep and long-lasting damage it causes, still we struggle to put our responsibilities to children front and centre.
05 March 2018
Syria crimes: Perpetrators must be held accountable – Zeid
Syria must be referred to the International Criminal Court, Zeid tells an urgent debate at the Human Rights Council, as civilians continue to be pounded into submission and death by airstrikes and shelling despite Security Council resolution.
02 March 2018
The universality and inseparability of human rights are key to peace
Governance which serves rather than silences, and economic systems rooted in dignity, are the responsibility of every government, and underpin the legitimacy of every government.
28 February 2018
High Commissioner calls to end pernicious use of the Security Council veto
“It has been the honour of my life to have come to know many human rights defenders – to have worked with them, and for them,” High Commissioner Zeid tells the high-level March session of the Human Rights Council.
26 February 2018
Efforts to build and sustain peace must uphold and promote human rights
Colombia, Mali and Myanmar exemplify how human rights measures can uphold peace – and the existential threats of violations.
26 February 2018
South Sudan: Possible war crimes and crimes against humanity
UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan calls for reparations for victims of human rights violations in the ongoing conflict.
23 February 2018
Human Rights Commission for South Sudan calls for end of impunity for perpetrators of violence
On the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan calls for an end to impunity for perpetrators of violence.
22 December 2017
Myanmar: systematic attacks on Rohingya require international response
High Commissioner requests Human Rights Council to take steps towards international criminal investigations.
05 December 2017
“Ghost Nets”- Aboriginal art meets human rights
An intriguing exhibition displaying the works of indigenous Australians alerts us to the plight of one of the last remaining wilderness areas in the world.
14 September 2017
Darker and more dangerous: High Commissioner updates the Human Rights Council on human rights issues in 40 countries
“I am inspired by people standing up in many countries in defiance of the indefensible. They seek, not power or personal profit, but justice”.
11 September 2017
Burundi - A knife or a steel bar? How would you prefer to be killed?
In 2015, President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for another term as head of state of Burundi. Since then, real or suspected government opponents have been hunted down, tortured or killed. The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi talks of crimes against humanity.
04 September 2017
UN human rights investigators decry targeting of civilians in Syria
“The only way to end civilian suffering is to end this war,” the Commission of Inquiry on Syria told the Human Rights Council, as the conflict rages into its seventh year.
16 June 2017
States that fail to engage on human rights betray their people - Zeid
High Commissioner Zeid tells Human Rights Council members they have particular responsibility to cooperate with human rights bodies.
06 June 2017
Protecting the rights of detainees in Syria
Protection of detainees and the disappeared in Syria was the focus of a recent panel discussion held during the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The discussion focused on the experiences of former detainees as well as providing some ways forward.
11 April 2017
Eliminating racial discrimination to build trusting societies
The UN Human Rights Council commemorates the International Day against Racial Discrimination with a debate on racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration.
21 March 2017
High Commissioner delivers his Global Update to the Human Rights Council
“All together – or fall together”: High Commissioner Zeid highlights countries where positive reforms are underway – and warns of others where escalating crises threaten men and women around the world .
08 March 2017
Attacks on Syrian civilians and aid workers in Aleppo were war crimes
“The scale of what happened in Aleppo is unprecedented,” the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said, issuing its new report. The Commission found war crimes were committed by government forces and opposition groups in the brutal battle to control Aleppo.
03 March 2017
“We have much to lose” High Commissioner Zeid tells Human Rights Council
Without commitment to fundamental human rights, to the dignity and worth of the human person and to the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, our world will become chaos, misery and warfare.
27 February 2017
South Sudan: serious risk of massive, ethnically targeted violence, warns High Commissioner Zeid
Killings, gang rape and massive destruction: "South Sudan teeters on the brink of a disaster even more terrible than the calamities its people have already endured."
14 December 2016
Zeid tells Council siege and bombardment of Aleppo "constitute crimes of historic proportions"
The collective failure of the international community to protect civilians and halt the bloodshed should haunt every one, Zeid tells Human Rights Council.
21 October 2016
Zeid's Global Human Rights Update
Addressing the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner focused on trends that increasingly undermine the work of the United Nations – including attempts to block the scrutiny of his Office.
13 September 2016
Taking stock of the Human Rights Council at 10
Former presidents assess a decade of the Human Rights Council during a discussion on the 10th Anniversary of the Human Rights Council. The event was moderated by UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore.
15 June 2016
Hate is being mainstreamed - global update by the High Commissioner
In a wide-ranging update to the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner detailed concerns in more than 50 countries and situations, and outlined ways the Office can assist.
13 June 2016
Homelessness: surviving at the peripheries
Homelessness is not a personal failure but the consequence of the systemic denial of the rights of homeless people, says UN expert on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha.
21 March 2016
UN Human Rights Chief Zeid presents his annual report to the Human Rights Council
The UN Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein voiced concerns about the harassment and the violations of the rights of human rights defenders in the past year.
10 March 2016
High Commissioner calls for end to pressure on human rights
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on States and others to relieve the pressure and suffering on people caused by continued human rights violations.
29 February 2016
Out of sight, out of mind: deaths in detention in Syria
Syrian men, women, and children have been transferred to one of the dozens of official or secret Government-run detention facilities in the Syrian Arab Republic. Thousands of them have been killed while in custody.
15 February 2016
Criticism is no threat to sovereignty
“Sovereignty cannot be damaged by carefully evaluated commentary,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in his opening address to the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council, taking place in Geneva this month.
14 September 2015
More satellite images to assist human rights work
Satellite imagery plays a vital role in helping to substantiate and help corroborate other sources of information, including witness testimonies, of human rights violations. A recent agreement between the UN Human Rights Office and UNITAR’s Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT) hopes to expand the use of this technology for human rights work.
16 July 2015
Zeid to Human Rights Council: “Boko Haram retains capacity to cause significant harm”
UN Human Rights Chief Zeid warns that failure to uphold international humanitarian and human rights principles in the fight against Boko Haram may jeopardize the population’s trust in national authorities.
06 July 2015
UN Human Rights Office researches abuses of Boko Haram
The atrocities and human rights abuses committed by Boko Haram are the focus of a special investigation by the UN Human Rights Office. The investigation, authorized by the Human Rights Council earlier this year, will interview provide background information for an oral report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
01 July 2015
Message is clear: Human Rights Still Matter
“Let the message go out that we will defend the victim and the voiceless,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. The message was given during his opening statement of the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council, taking place in Geneva this week.
16 June 2015
Human Rights Council calls for the investigation of the atrocities committed by Boko Haram
The UN Human Rights Council calls for the investigation on the atrocities committed by the Boko Haram insurgent group and its effects on human rights in Nigeria and countries of the Lake Chad Basin.
08 April 2015
States must renew dedication to inalienable human rights
The near daily news of atrocities and needless human suffering at the hands of terrorists and others demands a stronger and more inspired leadership from Member States toward upholding human rights, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Zeid made his comments at the opening of the 28th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
02 March 2015
Protect the rights of people with albinism
Tanzania has witnessed a spate of brutal attacks and killings of people with albinism, linked to myths and witchcraft. To protect this vulnerable group, the East African nation has rounded up children with the condition and placed them in holding centres throughout the country.
04 December 2014
Mass surveillance: exceptional measure or dangerous habit?
Digital communications technologies have revolutionized the way human beings interact, but Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri warns of the very real impact that governmental surveillance of digital communications can have on a range of human rights.
13 November 2014
Armed drones: calls for greater transparency and accountability
The Human Rights Council brings the debate on the use of armed drones to the fore, urging States to be more transparent and to promptly investigate allegations of violations.
20 October 2014
The Long Road to Ending Impunity
The UN Human Rights Office and the UN Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO) enforce protection measures to enable victims and witnesses of alleged human rights violations to testify in court.
10 October 2014
Out of many perspectives comes one history
History and memorials are not the spoils of the victor. In a panel discussion held during the 27th Human Rights Council, Human Rights special rapporteurs discussed with guests and Member States the best way to ensure that history teaching and memorialization processes are being used as a way of fostering mutual understanding between communities so as not to repeat past wrongs.
23 September 2014
Web resource gathers human rights education commitments of States in one place
A web resource called “The Right to Human Rights Education”, which was unveiled during a side event at the 27th session of the Human Rights Council, is a compilation of all the provisions of international and regional instruments that highlight commitments made by States to human rights education.
22 September 2014
UN Human Rights Chief Zeid addresses the 27th Human Rights Council session
In his first speech to the Human Rights Council, High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein addresses global human rights challenges and priority areas for his tenure.
10 September 2014
Syria’s brutal war threatens international peace and security
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic says the continuous influx of foreign fighters and the advances of extremist groups has contributed to a spill-over of violence affecting international peace and stability.
01 September 2014
An independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate the conflict in the occupied Palestinian territories
Meeting in Special Session to assess the situation in Gaza, the UN Human Rights Council votes to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territories from the start of the current military operation.
24 July 2014
The Human Rights Council holds a Special Session to discuss the current situation in the Gaza Strip
UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay, addressing a Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, reminds all parties to the conflict in Gaza that international law is not negotiable.
23 July 2014
The harms of gender stereotyping
Gender stereotyping is a form of discrimination against women and a contributing factor to many violations of their rights, say experts at the Human Rights Council.
20 June 2014
The conflict in Syria reaches a tipping point: violence at unimaginable levels
Warning of a regional war in the Middle East, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria foresees violent repercussions in Syria from events in neighbouring Iraq.
19 June 2014
Safety of journalists: States must act to end impunity
UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay says States must act to address impunity: that every act of violence against a journalist that goes uninvestigated and unpunished is an open invitation to further violence.
13 June 2014
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights delivers her final address to the Human Rights Council
In her final speech to the Human Rights Council, after six years as High Commissioner Pillay said the Human Rights Office had to be protected from financial and political constraints to enable it to operate with integrity and free of political influence.
10 June 2014
Everyone needs a place to call home
The UN human rights expert on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, presents new Guiding Principles on tenure security for the urban poor in her last report to the Human Rights Council.
17 March 2014
The Human Rights Council’s 25th session opens in Geneva
At the opening of the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay spoke of the daunting challenges, which lie ahead, for the full protection and promotion of human rights and highlighted the recent human rights achievements.
04 March 2014
The right to privacy in the digital age
UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay describes a ‘blurring of lines between the public and private sphere” brought about by modern communications technology and the challenges this poses to ensuring effective protection of the right to privacy.
01 November 2013
Assault on medical care: a distinct and chilling reality of the civil war in Syria
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, in a special report to the 24th Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva has focused attention on the assault on medical care of the sick and wounded, as one of the “most alarming features of the Syrian conflict.”
08 October 2013
“Unspeakable atrocities” reported by the UN Inquiry into the Human Rights Situation in North Korea
The chair of the UN inquiry investigating human rights in North Korea has called on the global community to respond to a situation which indicates a large-scale pattern of abuse that may constitute systematic and gross human rights violations.
17 September 2013
Human Rights Council’s 24th session opens in Geneva
At the opening of the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay expressed her distress over the current human rights challenges throughout the world starting with the catastrophic situation in Syria, and highlighted the Office’s recent achievements.
10 September 2013
Achieving equality for women in Tunisia
Women and men in Tunisia’s far-flung regions react positively to a campaign promoting the equal rights of women.
23 August 2013
The UN Human Rights Office honours staff members who have lost their lives in the service of human rights
A memorial ceremony is held at the UN Human Rights office in Geneva to honour staff members who lost their lives in the line of duty.
19 August 2013
A call for a moratorium on the development and use of lethal autonomous robots
UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns calls for a moratorium on the development and use of lethal autonomous robots.
31 May 2013
Syria: “an intolerable affront to the human conscience”
The Human Rights Council holds its twenty-third regular session from 27 May to 14 June 2013 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
28 May 2013
Combating child sex tourism
By 2030 the number of international tourists will reach an estimated 1.8 billion. Tourism, however, has a dark side and can be a potential vehicle for child abuse. Child sex tourism (CST) is a growing trend affecting millions of children around the globe.
10 April 2013
A move to raise a healthier generation of kids
Human rights and health experts participated in an interactive dialogue on the challenges in achieving the full realization of the right of the child to health during the full-day meeting on the Rights of the Child.
21 March 2013
Mistreatment in healthcare settings: when a carer becomes a torturer
The Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Méndez, analyses forms of abuse in healthcare settings which could constitute torture.
13 March 2013
Discrimination faced by rural women impacts negatively food security
The UN independent expert on the right to food deplores the negative impact of discrimination faced by rural women on food security, in his new report to the Human Rights Council.
12 March 2013
20 years working for human rights
Two decades on from the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, the international community recalls it as a ‘milestone’ in the development of the global human rights movement.
28 February 2013
The 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council opens in Geneva
At the opening of the 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council, the UN Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay, evokes the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and acknowledges achievements and challenges ahead.
25 February 2013
General Assembly elects 18 countries to serve on UN Human Rights Council
General Assembly elected 18 countries to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) for a period of three years beginning on 1 January 2013.
12 November 2012
Globalization – a paradox of perils and opportunities
The importance of people-centred development in an increasingly globalized world is the focus of this year’s Social Forum in Geneva.
10 October 2012
Mandela: an exemplary citizen with a steadfast belief in human rights
The UN Human Rights Council reflects on the protection and promotion of human rights through the values of reconciliation, peace, freedom and racial equality as espoused by Nelson Mandela.
28 September 2012
Commission of Inquiry on Syria: civilians bearing the brunt of the “unrelenting spiral of violence”
The Commission of Inquiry on Syria alerts the Human Rights Council on escalating levels of violence and renews its call for a diplomatic resolution of the conflict in Syria.
18 September 2012
Ending the recruitment of child soldiers
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict appeals to the Human Rights Council for greater protection of conflict-affected children.
12 September 2012
The 21st session of the Human Rights Council opens in Geneva
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay open the 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
10 September 2012
UN human rights colleagues honoured at a memorial ceremony in Geneva
A memorial ceremony is held at the UN Human Rights office in Geneva to honour colleagues who lost their lives in the line of duty.
17 August 2012
Impunity for violence against women is a global concern
Globally the prevalence of different manifestations of killings targeting women is increasing and a lack of accountability for such crimes remains a concern.
14 August 2012
Supporting women human rights defenders
“Although much progress has been made in realizing women’s rights, we must acknowledge that we still live in a world where women face serious inequalities in all spheres of life—at home, at work, in communities and in politics,”.
30 July 2012
Making it safer to express dissenting views through peaceful assembly and association
“It is astonishing how often States have violated the right of individuals to assemble peacefully, including by violating their rights to life and to be free from torture, rights which allow no limitation,” says Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai.
12 July 2012
Imprisoning migrants is not the answer, says UN expert
The detention of irregular migrants should be a measure of last resort, says the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.
04 July 2012
More human rights abuses in Syria as conflict escalates - Commission of Inquiry
The Commission of Inquiry on Syria presents its report to the Human Rights Council on the events in Al-Houla, amidst fears of further militarization of the crisis and worsening human rights violations in Syria.
28 June 2012
The right to send out “inconvenient” information
Journalists should not be intimidated, imprisoned, tortured or killed for telling “inconvenient” truths, notes the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, in his latest report to the Human Rights Council.
21 June 2012
Saying no to landmines and promoting the rights of landmines survivors
In addition to overcoming physical trauma, landmine survivors struggle to achieve social acceptance, gain meaningful employment, receive physical rehabilitation and psychological and social support and ensure that their rights are respected.
20 June 2012
The 20th session of the Human Rights Council begins
The Human Rights Council starts its 20th session in Geneva and hears the reports of independent human rights experts and the Commission of Inquiry on Syria.
18 June 2012
UN Human Rights council holds a fourth special session to discuss the Syrian crisis
In a statement read on her behalf by Marcia V.J.Kran, Director at the UN Human Rights office, Pillay called for an “immediate end to all forms of violence and human rights violations by all parties.”
01 June 2012
Empowering women and girls through sport
Discrimination against women and girls in sport and physical education is widespread in several countries around the world.
29 May 2012
In the aftermath of disasters children are at great risk
International cooperation is necessary to protect the millions of children left vulnerable to abuse and exploitation following natural disasters.
30 March 2012
Right to food: the impacts of bad diets
In his new report to the UN Human Rights Council, Olivier De Schutter, the UN independent expert on the right to food, addresses the links between health and malnutrition.
28 March 2012
Children and the justice system
Addressing the Human Rights Council, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay says imprisonment of children should be considered only as a last resort.
26 March 2012
A global human rights map: The Universal Periodic Review goes into its second round
The UN Human Rights Council marks a historic milestone closing off the first round of its Universal Periodic Review, the assessment of States’ human rights progress.
21 March 2012
Human rights violations and war crimes committed by both sides – the latest report on Libya
The International Commission of Inquiry on Libya has found that serious human rights violations and war crimes were committed by both sides in Libya through 2011.
08 March 2012
A stain on our collective conscience
UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon calls on members of the Human Rights Council and “all people of conscience” to act now to put an end to violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
07 March 2012
A right to choose for persons with disabilities
States that have endorsed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities should ease the participation of all persons with disabilities in the political and public life of their countries.
06 March 2012
2011 was a year critical for human rights
UN Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay, presents her annual report to the Human Rights Council.
05 March 2012
The Human Rights Council calls on the Syrian Government to immediately end attacks on civilians
Condemning the continued widespread and systematic human rights violations in Syria, the Human Rights Council passes a resolution calling for an immediate end to all human rights violations and attacks against Syrian civilians.
01 March 2012
The Human Rights Council holds an urgent debate on Syria
UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay addresses the Human Rights Council urgent debate on Syria, describing the situation in the country as dire and calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to end the fighting and bombardments.
29 February 2012
The 19th session of the Human Rights Council opens in Geneva
The Human Rights Council convening for its 19th session immediately schedules an urgent debate on the human rights and humanitarian situation in Syria.
27 February 2012
Human Rights Council holds its 19th session
Human rights issues, from minority rights to juvenile justice, will be addressed during the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council, which takes place in Geneva from 27 February to 23 March 2012.
23 February 2012
The crisis in the Horn of Africa: a human rights perspective
The severe drought in the Horn of Africa has become an unprecedented human rights crisis, devastating the lives of millions.
26 October 2011
Solidarity for a globally sustainable future
The multiple crises currently facing the world could best be addressed by fostering international solidarity, says UN independent expert.
19 October 2011
Fighting extremism for the sake of human rights
States must protect vulnerable groups against extremist organizations, says expert on racism.
13 October 2011
Promoting the language rights of indigenous peoples
Experts discuss the importance of linguistic diversity for the protection rights and the survival of the cultures of 370 million indigenous peoples around the world.
30 September 2011
Bringing health-related rights home for older persons
The UN Special Rapporteur calls on the global community to better protect the right to health of older persons in a rapidly ageing world.
27 September 2011
No future for enslaved children working in mines and quarries
The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery presents her report on child slavery in the artisanal mining and quarry sector to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
23 September 2011
Breaking point in Somalia
The drought in Somalia takes the local people to breaking point: the Independent Expert on Somalia says the funds must be found to deal with the country’s famine and ongoing conflict.
15 September 2011
2011 - A defining geopolitical moment
The Human Rights Council considers the promotion and protection of human rights during peaceful protest movements.
14 September 2011
The 18th Session of the Human Rights Council
Opening this year’s final session of the Human Rights Council, High Commissioner Pillay sets out the many human rights challenges confronting the global community.
12 September 2011
The Human Rights Council meets for its 18th session
The right to express grievances and aspirations for political change through peaceful protests will be a central theme of the 18th session of the Human Rights Council meeting.
09 September 2011
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