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Task Force on Secretariat services, accessibility and use of information technology

1. Mandate of the Task Force

The Task Force on secretariat services, accessibility and use of information technology was established in July 2011 pursuant to paragraph 61 of resolution 16/21 of the Human Rights Council.

It is mandated to study the issues contained in paragraphs 57-60 of the resolution, related to the improvement of the secretariat services to the Council and its mechanisms, the accessibility to the Council’s work for persons with disabilities and the feasibility of the use of information technology, and to present concrete recommendations thereon to the 19th session of the Council. See Council decision 19/119, and report of the task force contained in the annex. At the 21st session of the Council in September 2012, a progress report informing about the status of implementation of all Task Force recommendations was presented to the Council. See document A/HRC/21/CRP.1.

2. Composition of the Task Force

The Task Force is composed of the Bureau of the Human Rights Council and representatives of OHCHR and UNOG. Representatives of Member States and other stakeholders also contribute to the work of the Task Force.

3. Methods of work

On the issue of enhancing accessibility for persons with disabilities, the Task Force has held several meetings on how to enhance accessibility to the Human Rights Council, in terms of physical access to meeting rooms, as well as accessibility of o information and documentation. The taskforce regularly holds consultations with States, NHRIs, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders, to inform its work to promote equality and inclusion and to enhance accessibility for persons with disabilities to the Council and its work, in accordance with international standards on accessibility for persons with disabilities.

4. Activities

During the 22nd session of the Council in March 2013, additional measures were put in place to enhance accessibility for persons with disabilities to the Human Rights Council, such as improved signage to access room XX and accessible toilets, as well as a priority access lane for persons with disabilities to enter the Palais the Nations at the Pregny gate.

The annual interactive debate of the Human Rights Council on the rights of persons with disabilities is made accessible by providing English captioning and simultaneous sign language interpretation in international sign. In addition, another panel among those held by the Human Rights Council is made accessible at each session, through funds that are raised or identified on an ad-hoc basis. For a list of all Human Rights Council panels that have been made accessible so far with links to the webcast archives, please click here. In 2014, the task force held a consultation with States, stakeholders, as well as with UN staff, on existing practices on providing “reasonable accommodation” to persons with disabilities for their participation to meetings in the areas of information and communication technology, internet resources and documents, as well as access to buildings. The results of this consultation informed the work of the Task Force and fed into an awareness-raising training/workshop for UN staff members involved in the work of the Human Rights Council (Task Force recommendation, 30 e) in A/HRC/23/CRP.2). For a summary of the consultation, please click here.

Currently, the Taskforce on accessibility is holding a consultation to inform the elaboration and development of an accessibility plan.


Pursuant to paragraph 20 of the annex to Human Rights Council decision 19/119, the Council decided to endorse the view of the Task Force that an accessibility plan should be elaborated, to achieve improvements in accessibility to the Council and the work of its mechanisms.

The taskforce has launched a consultation through a questionnaire on what the Council’s accessibility plan should include. The questionnaire is available both in Word and online.

The results of the consultations will be used to inform the work of the Task Force in relation to the elaboration and development of the accessibility plan.

States, UN entities, specialized agencies, NHRIs, NGOs, persons with disabilities and other relevant stakeholders are encouraged to participate by submitting their written contributions to TFaccessibility@ohchr.org, or by filling the questionnaire online, by Monday 30 November 2015.

For any queries, you may contact us, preferably by email:


Human Rights Council Task Force on accessibility,
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
United Nations Office at Geneva,
CH-1211, Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 90 11

5. Documents