Scales for Justice

Working towards peace and reconciliation

The Human Rights Council 

The Human Rights Council (HRC) is a body within the United Nations responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights. It is composed of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly for a three year term. The Human Rights Council meets at the UN Office at Geneva and holds three regular session per year (March, June and September). The Human Rights Council replaced the former Commission on Human Rights. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is the secretariat for the HRC.

Among the procedures and mechanisms of the Human Rights Council is the Universal Periodic Review, which serves to assess the human rights situations in all United Nations Member States, the Advisory Committee which serves as the Council’s “think tank” and the Complaint Procedure, which allows individuals and organizations to bring human rights violations to the attention of the Council.  Finally, the Human Rights Council also works with the UN Special Procedures. These are made special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts and working groups that monitor, examine, advise and report on thematic issues or human rights situations in specific countries. (Source: OHCHR)

NGOs in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSO) have the possibility to participate in the HRC sessions as observers. As a newly founded NGO Scales for Justice is not entitled to apply for the ECOSOC status, yet in collaboration with other NGOs regularly attends and participates in all relevant meetings.

How can NGOs participate in the Human Rights Council

As Observers, NGOs are able to:

Attend the sessions of the Council, which gives the NGO the possibility to observe the sessions and enter in direct touch with country missions in order to advocate and lobby for human rights causes. Attending the sessions of the Human Rights Council is a priority for S4J.

Submit written statements: Ahead of the sessions NGOs can write and submit written statements, which later become official part of the documentation of the Council and can be found on the UN website. Scales for Justice (S4J) regularly participats in drafting such reports.

Make oral interventions: As observer organizations NGOs can register for oral statements in the Council. These statements are live recorded and published on  the UN extranet . They are the perfect way of addressing human rights violations on an international level. In certain cases it is helpful to invite victims of human rights violations ot the Council to present their case in person, which may be a source of protection. S4J is experienced in drafting and delivering such statements.

Participate in debates, interactive dialogues, panel discussions and informal meetings, which are equally live recorded and published on the extranet and are great means for advocay work on an international level. S4J is experienced in drafting and delivering such statements.

Organize side events on issues relevant to the work of the Human Rights Council: Side events give NGOs the possibility to invite experts and human rights defenders to present their case at the UN. S4J is regularly participating in such events and presents its findings about specific human rights situations to a public. It is further highly important for S4J to actively search experts and defenders from the outside to attennd such events and give visibility to their cause.  

Source: OHCHR