Participation in the Human Rights Council

All you need to know if your NGO is going to participate at a session of the Human Rights Council.

Accreditation for sessions of the Human Rights Council

For information about the accreditation procedure to other conferences, please refer to the section Consultative Status and Accreditation.


Accreditations are delivered by the Secretariat of the Council. See “How to proceed to obtain an accreditation for the Human Rights Council?” below to learn about the details to be observed when making an accreditation request.

Should you have any questions or problems regarding the accreditation procedure, please contact the Civil Society Section of the Office of the High-Commissioner for Human Rights:

Phone : +41 (0)22 917 96 56
Email:
civilsociety(at)ohchr.org

You may also consult this guide.

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If your NGO has the ECOSOC consultative status, you need to send an accreditation request to the Human Rights Council’s Secretariat:

  • for plenary sessions: before the session per fax to the number +41 22 917 90 11, and during the session by fax to +41 22 917 04 94
  • for UPR sessions: by Email to upraccreditation(at)ohchr.org

Regarding the content of your accreditation request, the latter should respect the following conditions:

  • It should be written on a medium with the official heading of the organisation,
  • It should clearly indicate the title and duration of the session the NGO would like to attend,
  • It should be signed by the President or by the main representative of the organisation,
  • It should indicate the complete name of the person that will represent the NGO at the Human Rights Council (names and surnames must be identical to the way they appear on the identity card and surnames have to be written in capital letters).

If you need a certificate in order to obtain you visa, please contact the NGO Unit of the UN in Geneva: Fax +41 22 917 05 83, Email: ungeneva.ngoliaison@unog.ch

For further information, please consult the practical guide of the OHCHR where you will find more details about the accreditation procedure as well as other useful information for delegates coming to attend HRC sessions.

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In principle, your NGO does need ECOSOC status in order to have your representatives accredited. Yet it is current practice that NGOs without ECOSOC status get an accreditation for their representatives in the name of another NGO which does have ECOSOC status. In order to explore this possibility, you could contact NGOs in ECOSOC consultative status which work on the same topics or regions as your organisation.


To access the database of NGOs in ECOSOC consultative status, click here. Organisations that hold ECOSOC status are labelled with "General", "Special", or "Roster" in the "Accreditation(s)" column.

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Yes, representatives of NGOs holding an annual or a temporary badge issued by the NGO Liaison Office of the UN Office at Geneva have access to Human Rights Council sessions. If they do so, they should however inform the Secretariat of the Council (fax +41 22 917 90 11 or hrcaccreditation(at)ohchr.org) of their intention to participate. The Human Rights Council's Secretariat establishes the list of participants (published together with the report of a session) on the basis of this information. If the Secretariat is not informed, your organisation may not be mentioned among the participants.

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A limited number of seats in the Public Gallery are available for persons wishing to observe the proceedings of the HRC without being accredited as participants (for instance students and academics). Individuals who wish to attend a session are required to send an email (24 hours before the desired date) to the HCR Secretariat at hrcaccreditation(at)ohchr.org for plenary sessions, and at upraccreditation(at)ohchr.org for sessions of the Working Group on the UPR.


The email should contain the following information:

  1. Date(s) of the visit,
  2. Purpose of the visit,
  3. Full name(s) of those wishing to attend the session.

Access to the public gallery is granted depending on the availability of seating and other circumstances.

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Once you are in Geneva, go to the ‘Pregny Gate’ of the Palais des Nations / UN building (next to the ‘Appia’ stop of bus number 8). Take with you a valid identity document as well as a copy of your accreditation request (letter). The security personal will then issue a badge for the duration of the session or for the ongoing calendar year.

Conference badges can be picked up from 2 pm. of the working day preceding the first day of a session. Be aware that on the first day of a session, many people will be picking up their badges. You may thus have to calculate 30 to 90 minutes of queue time.

Annual badges can be picked up on any date of the year they are vaild for.

The office is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., from Monday to Friday.

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Calendar of meetings

The annual programme of work is available on the Extranet of the Council (login "hrc extranet", password "1session"), under "Information on Meetings". It's an important tool to plan your year. It will show you which concrete issues will be discussed during which session.

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On the Human Rights Council's website, select "sessions", then the relevant session and "GO". The Programme of work is likely to change in the course of the session.

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The calendar of meetings of the Council is available on the Extranet of the Human Rights Council (login "hrc extranet", password "1session"), under 'Information on Meetings'.

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The annotated agenda is available on the Extranet of the Council (login "hrc extranet", password "1session"), under the relevant session. It's an important tool for you to prepare for a session and gives you the references of reports and other relevant documents that will be discussed during the session.

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Where can I find documents regarding the Human Rights Council?

The annual programme of work is available on the Extranet of the Council (login "hrc extranet", password "1session"), under "Information on Meetings". It's an important tool to plan your year. It will show you which concrete issues will be discussed during which session.

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You can login to the Extranet of the Human Rights Council (login "hrc extranet", password "1session"). On the Extranet you will find plenty of usefull documents in relation with the Human Rights Council.

On the website of the Council, you will find reports relevant for a given session. Just click on "sessions", and then select the relevant session.

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On the official website of the UPR, select the SuR, click on "GO", then on footnote number 3 just above "Summary of Stakeholders Submissions".

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Written statements are available on the official website of the Council, by selecting the relevant session, then "Documentation" on the right.

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Each session of the Council follows the same sequence of 10 agenda items. This agenda has been established by the Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 and can be consulted here. The provisional annotated agenda for each session is put on the Council's webiste shortly before a session, by selecting the relevant session.

 

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You may find the order of the day online on the website of the Council by selecting the relevant session. "Order of the Day" displays then on the right.

Every morning during sessions, you can also pick up a printed version of the current Order of the Day at the UN's documentation centre, next to door 40 of building E.

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Click on the session you are interested in in order to see the resolutions and decisions adopted at this occasion.

The resolutions and decisions of the HRC are also published in the reports the Council submits to the UN General Assembly.

Before resolutions are adopted - aka during the session - they become available on the Extranet (login: HRC extranet, password: 1session): select the relevant session, and then click on "Draft resolutions" on the left.

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At the end of each cycle of the Human Rights Council (December), the latter adresses a report to the UN General Assembly. The reports are available in all six official languages here.

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Submission of written statements

In order to make a written statement, your NGO needs to have ECOSOC consultative status (General, Special or Roster). If this is not the case, you may still associate your NGO to the statement of an organisation that does have ECOSOC status (joint statements). In this case, the name of the NGO without ECOSOC consultative status should be added as a footnote to the title of the submitted text.

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The submission of written statements is done online through this form. Guidelines from the Secretariat of the Council are available in this booklet.

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Be careful to respect the deadline for submission of written statements. The deadline is 2 weeks before the start of a session.

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Written statements are available on the official website of the Council, by selecting the relevant session, then "Documentation" on the right.

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Making oral statements

First, your NGO must have obtained ECOSOC consultative status.

Then, your NGO must also get an accreditation for your representative to take part in the work of the Human Rights Council. More information on how to accredit your representatives is available in the section Accreditation.

Once you have fulfilled these conditions, you may register for an oral statement (see next question).

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In order to register, you need to fill in the online oral statement request form. The form opens on Friday before the beginning of a session, at 2pm (Geneva time).

All electronic pre-registrations made need to be confirmed in person at the list of speakers desk during the 24 hours preceding the meeting during which you wish to speak. Electronic pre-registration is now also possible and even a requirement for statements during the adoption of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) outcomes on a specific State under review. Given that only a small number of NGOs can speak in this segment, it is advisable to sign-up immediately when the online form opens.

Instructions published by the Secretariat are available here.

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The list of speakers opens Friday before the beginning of a session, at 2pm Geneva time.

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The List of Speakers Desk is located in room XX - the main meeting room of the Human Rights Council. Once you have past security at the entrance of the room, you will find two people handling the list of speakers at the right hand side a bit into the room. One person manages the list of speakers for NGOs, the other one the list of speakers for States.

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NGOs can only be registered on the speakers list by persons holding a badge of the very same organisation.

Where the speaker is not from the inscribing NGO, an authorized representative from the latter must authorize this in writing.

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In principle you may not make oral statements if your NGO does not have ECOSOC status. Yet some NGOs which do have ECOSOC consultative status sometimes accept that someone from another NGO speaks in their name. Such an arrangement requires the written consent of the NGO that holds ECOSOC status.

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Accredited NGOs may make oral statements under substantive items of the HRC agenda. This may be the case within an interactive dialogue, a general debate, a panel discussion or the adoption of UPR outcomes. Detailed information on NGO oral interventions are available in the Practical guide for NGO Participants or are also made available at the list of speakers desk.

Refer to the list of speakers desk for modalities such as speaking time arrangements, content of the statements, and priorities (this impacts the order NGOs speak in).

For further information about modalities, please consult the list of speakers desk or contact the Civil Society Section.
Phone: +41 (0)22 917 96 56
Email: civilsociety(at)ohchr.org

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An NGO may join other NGOs to submit together a joint oral statement. There are two main advantages in doing so:

  • Firstly, NGO joint statements with more than one co-signatory are given priority and placed at the beginning of the list of speakers. Since sometimes there are far too many organisations on the list of speakers for the time available, making a joint statement and thus being given priority will improve your chances to actually be heard within the Council.
  • Secondly, your statement may gain increased attention and weight since it is made in the name of various organisations.

Click here in order to download the NGO Oral Statement Co-sponsor Form.

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An NGO that wants to make an oral statement must provide 25 written copies of its statement to the list of speakers desk at the beginning of the relevant meeting. Photocopiers are available near the plenary room. These copies will be given to interpreters as well as to the Presidency of the Council. They will not be distributed in the conference room

Additional copies of NGOs oral statements for people to take may be placed by NGOs themselves on the tables at the back of the plenary room, after delivery of the relevant statement.

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NGOs are not permitted to distribute documents, pamphlets or any other material within the UN Building.

Yet you may place copies of your oral statements on the tables at the back of the plenary room, after delivery of the relevant statement. Tables are also available outside the plenary room for displaying documentation, clearly attributable to NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC.

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Yes, this possibility exists for NGOs which are not based in Geneva. They do though need to have ECOSOC consultative status.

The registration process is the same as for statements delivered in person (online registration - see question above). In addition, a letter on official paper needs to be sent to the Civil Society Section (civilsociety@ohchr.org), indicating the exact name of the speaker, the item and format of debate as well as a phone number where a representative of the NGO can be reached at the time the statement is being delivered. A colour copy of the speaker's passport also needs to be enclosed, and the letter needs to be signed by the President, Chief admin officer or the Main Representative of the NGO.

More information is available here.

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Room booking for parallel events

NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC and accredited to the session may organise so-called "side events", "parallel events" or "informal meetings" of relevance to the work of the HRC.

NGOs wishing to organise side events should fill in the NGO Parallel-Event Room Request Form.

Room bookings must be done at the latest 24 hours before the event. It is though recommended to book the room as soon as possible since the number of rooms is limited and rooms are attributed on a first-come first-served basis.

Further information is available in the Practical Guide for NGOs.

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Yes, an event which is organised by an accredited NGO may be co-sponsored by other NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC. This should be communicated to civilsociety(at)ohchr.org

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The Secretariat of the Council can provide you a with a beamer connected to a computer. Any orders have to be done at the time of room booking.

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No, the Secretariat does not provide interpretation for NGO parallel events. NGOs may bring their own interpreters if they so wish, but must inform the Secretariat.

If you are interested in getting contact details of interpreters, you may contact Ricardo Espinosa at the NGO Liaison Office at Geneva.

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For the duration of your event, you may invite guests who are not holding a badge to access the UN. In this case, you are requested to provide the HRC Secretariat (civilsociety(at)ohchr.org), with a complete list in Excel format of its guests at least 48 hours prior to the day of the meeting. Accordingly, "Parallel Event" photo-badges will be issued on the day of the scheduled event, at the "Pregny Gate" security entrance, upon presentation of a valid ID.

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Taking pictures during a side event is allowed if participants to the event have been asked for permission.

The use of video cameras in UN premises is in principle not allowed. Only journalists and cameramen accredited as such with UNOG are allowed to use them. This rule has been established in order to protect individuals (victims of abuses or human rights defenders) for whom the publication of images of them participating in a human rights meeting could constitute a severe personal danger.

For side events, however, an exception can be made. If you wish to film your side event, you should request approval from the Secretariat (civilsociety(at)ohchr.org) prior to the event.

 

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Advocacy

The Place des Nation is a square, which belongs to the City hall of Geneva. The rights and duties of the users are thus identical to those of other public places.

To organise an event or a demonstration on the public domain, whether it is an individual or grouped action, you must obtain a permission delivered by the Department of Safety and of public places.

The request has to be made through this form at least 30 days before the planned date. The municipal and cantonal authorities will examine your case, and will get back to you regarding the license fee (a minimum of 60CHF).

For more information on the calculation made by the authorities, refer to the by-laws and to the conditions for exemption.

For more information, please contact:

Service de la sécurité et de l'espace publics
Boulevard Helvétique 29
1207 Genève
Tél. +41 22 418 6100
Fax +41 22 418 6101
manifestations.seep@ville-ge.ch

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Respect for the official regulations of the City of Geneva:

The organisers of the events are responsible for respecting the regulations of the city of Geneva, in particular the regulations on public tranquility.

Other regulations are at your disposal to insure you to be in order.

In certain cases, such as the installation of tents, big tops or other temporary infrastructures, watch out for the indications on the prevention of the risk of fire.

During the demonstration or the event, the organiser is responsible for maintaining the public path in good condition (see the regulations concerning the sorting of waste, as well as the obligations of the organizer and the penalties in case of failure to respect them). They are also responsible for its restoration after the event, otherwise running the risk of a refusal of future licenses, and of finding themselves charged the cleaning fees.

 

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Useful contacts

United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)
NGO Unit
Mr. Ricardo Espinosa
Office of the Director-General
Room 153
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: + 41 (0)22 917 21 27
Fax: +41 (0)22 917 05 83
Email: ungeneva.ngoliaison@unog.ch

More information on the NGO Unit in Geneva is available on their website.

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Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Civil Society Section
Palais Wilson
1211 Geneva 10
Tel. +41 (0)22 917 96 56
Email : civilsociety@ohchr.org

Websites :
- Civil Society Section
- NGOs within the Human Rights Council

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