UN Human Rights Council

CIVICUS at the UN Office in Geneva

The United Nations system in Geneva includes a large number of intergovernmental organisations, specialised agencies, programmes, funds, offices and research institutes as well as related organisations. Two thirds of the activities of the United Nations system takes place in Geneva, making it a key centre of international co-operation and multilateral negotiation. CIVICUS’ main focus currently concentrates on the human rights mechanisms, most notably the Human Rights Council and its subsidiary bodies such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and Special Procedures, but also on the Treaty bodies. CIVICUS also works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

For more information on our line of work at UN Headquarters, please contact susan.wildingATcivicus.org or renate.bloemATcivicus.org

UN Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) is the United Nation’s preeminent human rights body. Established in 2006, it is mandated to address all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention and make recommendations on them. The UN HRC, which is seated in Geneva, holds no fewer than three regular sessions a year including in March, June and September.

Operating under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council, the Universal Periodic Review requires the examination of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States every 4.5 years. Using international human rights law including the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights treaties to which the State is party as its benchmark, the primary objective of the UPR is to support States to improve the human rights situations in their country.

During UN Human Rights Council sessions, CIVICUS and its partners make and support interventions to address a diverse range of thematic and county specific recommendations to advance the causes and health of civil society. CIVICUS further organises a number of thematic and country specific side events to draw attention to acute restrictions on civil society, human rights defenders and fundamental democratic freedoms. In addition, CIVICUS issues several oral statements and advocacy letters calling on the Council to address persistent violations of basic human rights.

24th Session (September 2013) | 25th Session (March 2014) | 26th Session (June 2014) | 27th Session (September 2014) | 28th Session (March 2015) | 29th Session (June 2015) | 30th Session (September 2015) | 31st Session (March 2016) | 32nd Session (June 2016) | 33rd Session (September 2016) | 34th Session (March 2017) | 35th Session (June 2017) | 36th Session (September 2017) | 37th Session (March 2018) | 38th Session (June-July 2019) | 39th Session (September 2018) | 40th Session (February-March 2019) | 41st Session (June-July 2019) | 42nd Session (September-October) | 43rd Session (February, March, June) | 44th Session (June-July)


CIVICUS and partners produce a number of advocacy statements at the UN Human Rights Council on issues concerning the rights of civil society. See below newsfeed for full archive.

Letters to governments and UN officials

CIVICUS leads and supports joint letters urging the Council to take concerted action to address pressing civil human rights issues. These letters, typically endorsed by a broad range of national, regional and international groups, represent a crucial avenue to mobilize the Council to respond to pressing human rights concerns. See news feed below for latest letters.

Submissions for the Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

CIVICUS’ joint and stand-alone UN Universal Period Review (UPR) submissions on restrictions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression and persecution of human rights defenders (HRDs). The submissions, on over 60 countries, also provide a number of substantive recommendations to support the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society.

UPR submissions from the 2nd cycle (2012-2016)
Azerbaijan | Afghanistan |  Bangladesh |  Belarus | Bolivia | Burundi | Burkina Faso | Cambodia | Central African Republic | China | Colombia | Cote d’Ivoire | Democratic Republic of Congo | Egypt | Ethiopia | Eritrea | Honduras | Hungary | Iran | Israel | Jordan | Liberia | Kenya | Kuwait | Malawi |  Malaysia | Maldives | Mauritania | Mexico | Mozambique | Myanmar | Nepal | Nicaragua | Niger | Nigeria | Pakistan | Qatar | Oman | Russia | Rwanda | Serbia | Sierra Leone | Singapore | Somalia | Sudan | Swaziland | South Sudan | Syria | The Gambia | Tanzania | Thailand | Togo | Turkey | Turkmenistan | Uganda | United States of America | Uzbekistan | Venezuela | Vietnam | Yemen | Zimbabwe  

UPR submissions from the 3rd cycle (2017-2021)
Afghanistan | Algeria | Angola | Armenia | AustraliaBangladesh | Benin (FR) | Bahrain | Brazil | Burkina Faso (FR) | Burundi | Cameroon | Chad (FR) | Chile | China | Colombia (ES) | Cote d’Ivoire | Cuba (ES) | Democratic Republic of Congo (FR) | Djibouti (FR) | Ecuador | EgyptEl Salvador (ES) | Equatorial Guinea | Eritrea | Ethiopia | FijiFrance | Gabon (FR) | Guatemala (ES) | Honduras (ES)India | Indonesia | IraqIsrael | Iran | Jordan | Kenya | KuwaitLao | LebanonMacedonia | Madagascar | Malaysia | Malawi | Maldives | Mauritania (FR) | Mexico (ES) | Morocco | Mozambique | Myanmar | NepalNicaragua (ES) | Niger (FR) | Nigeria | Pakistan | Paraguay (ES) | Peru (ES) | Qatar | the Philippines | Poland | Oman | Russia | Republic of Korea | RwandaSaudi Arabia | Senegal (FR) | Serbia | Singapore | South Africa | Sri Lanka | Togo (FR) | Timor Leste | Tunisia | Turkmenistan | UgandaUkraine (UK) | United Arab Emirates | Uzbekistan Venezuela (ES) |  Vietnam | Yemen | Zambia


CIVICUS organises a number of events, workshops and panel discussions to coincide with the sessions of the UN Human Rights Council. The 45th session is taking place in September 2020. We will provide an overview of events in this space closer to the time.

Papers & Resources

Enhancing the effectiveness of the UN Universal Periodic Review: A civil society perspective
CIVICUS examines the experiences of civil society groups from across the world in engaging with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The report, based on interviews with civil society leaders operating in diverse regions of the globe, provides a number of substantive recommendations to strengthen the UPR process to support the creation of a safe and enabling environment for civil society to promote and protect human rights.

Consultation Report: How to Create and Maintain Civil Society Space. What Works? Sub-Saharan Africa
As part of a series of regional consultations on the space and environment for civil society, CIVICUS, under the auspices of the Civic Space Initiative (CSI), convened a civil society consultation with a diverse coalition of civil society representatives from 26 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Civil Society Space Report
This submission includes CIVICUS´ view of how civic space can be enabled, created and maintained; a brief summary of some positive developments and trends related to civic space; some examples of how CSOs operate when space is limited.

Reporting human rights violations to UN Special Procedures: An introductory guide
Civil society representatives and human rights activists can interact directly with UN Special Procedures by: submitting individual cases of human rights abuses; providing information and analysis on specific concerns; working locally to advocate, disseminate and follow up on the work of UN Special Procedures; working closely with other civil society actors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the ground.

September 22, 2021

The Council must address arbitrary detention of human rights defenders

in Geneva

Statement at the 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council Delivered by Lisa Majumdar Thank you, Madame President. No one should be arbitrarily…
September 22, 2021

Myanmar: States must ensure that rhetoric at the UN translates to action on the ground

in Geneva

Statement at the 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council  Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Delivered by Lisa Majumdar We thank…
September 20, 2021

Malaysia: Government should respect human rights as it seeks UN Human Rights Council membership

in Geneva

#Malaysia: The government should respect human rights and implement a comprehensive program of reforms as it seeks UN Human Rights Council membership https://t.co/9lwz41q3TY #UNGA…
September 15, 2021

UN must address crises in Afghanistan and Cambodia, and commit to strengthening equal participation

in Geneva

Statement at the 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council Delivered by Lisa Majumdar Thank you, Madame President. We welcome that the High…
September 14, 2021

Cambodia Human Rights Crisis: The UN Human Rights Council Should Act Now

in Geneva

To Members and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council The undersigned civil society organizations are writing to draw your attention to…