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1. Civil society engagement with the UN

1.2 Accessing the Human Rights Council

This section looks at the different opportunities to engage with the Human Rights Council and identifies when you need ECOSOC accreditation, and what you can do without it.

Illustration of the Human Rights Council

Attending regular and special sessions (public gallery, events)

To attend sessions of the Human Rights Council, you need ECOSOC accreditation.

  • If your organisation does not have ECOSOC accreditation, you can contact a partner organisation that does. They may be able to give you accreditation as a representative of their NGO. They can grant you three kinds of access:
    1. Access to the public gallery
    2. Access to a specific side event of the Council
    3. Access to the plenary of the Council
  • With Passes 1 and 2, you are not able to enter Room XX (where the Council plenary meetings take place), but you are able to enter the UN building and observe the meetings from the public gallery of Room XX. Passes 1 and 2 will let you attend and be a panellist in side events at the Council, and you can also attend ‘informals’.
  • With Pass 3, you have full access to the meetings of the Council and can enter Room XX, as well as attend and participate in side events and attend ‘informals’.
  • If you are not able to access the UN, you can watch the sessions of the Human Rights Council on UN Web TV, either live or afterwards.

Registering to deliver an oral statement (registering for a ‘speaking slot’)

If you are delivering an oral statement at the Council on behalf of your NGO, you must first register under a specific agenda item (registering for a ‘speaking slot’) usually one week in advance of the Council session. Only organisations with ECOSOC accreditation can register.

  • If your organisation does not have ECOSOC accreditation, you should contact a partner organisation that does and see if they are able to register for a speaking slot that you can use.
    • The statement will be made in the name of the organisation registering for the speaking slot, so they will most likely want to work on the statement with you, to ensure that it is in line with their priorities and positions as an organisation.

Delivering an oral statement

To deliver an oral statement at the Council, you need ECOSOC accreditation.

  • If your organisation does not have ECOSOC accreditation, you should contact a partner organisation that does. They may be able to deliver the statement for you, or give you accreditation as a representative of their NGO (see ‘Attending regular and special sessions’).
    • If the organisation that registered for the speaking slot is different from the organisation that gave you access to attend the Council session, you will have to ensure that the NGO that has registered for the speaking slot has given you authorisation to speak - a signed letter from the NGO must be sent to the OHCHR secretariat at hrcngo@ohchr.org.

Organising a side event

To request a room for a side event, you need to have ECOSOC accreditation. To ‘co-sponsor’ an event, you do not need ECOSOC accreditation.

  • If your organisation does not have ECOSOC accreditation, you should contact a partner organisation that does. They may be able to ‘sponsor’ the side event and request the room for you. Alternatively, you can contact a State and see if they are willing to ‘sponsor’ the event and request the room. As a ‘co-sponsor’ of an event, you can put your organisation’s logo on the flyer, as long as the logo of the ‘sponsor’ is also on the flyer.
    • As the side event will be registered in the name of the ‘sponsor’, that organisation or State will most likely want to work with you to ensure that the event (e.g. title, concept, panellists) is in line with their priorities and positions as an organisation.

Participating in a side event

To attend a side event at the Council, you do not need ECOSOC accreditation, but you do need to have access to the UN (see ‘Attending regular and special sessions’).

  • You may be able to watch side events from home, if they are live streamed. Side events are only live streamed if the sponsors of the side event organise it themselves.
  • If you are a panellist at a side event, you can either participate in person if you have access to the UN (see above), or you can speak on the panel using a video-conferencing system (e.g. Skype). The UN conference services will need to be warned about this need when the room is requested for the side event, to ensure that the room assigned has the facilities to make this possible.

Meeting with governments

To meet with governments, you do not need ECOSOC accreditation.

  • However, if you are trying to meet with governments during a session of the Human Rights Council, they will most likely only be able to meet at the UN, and so you will need to have access to the UN (see ‘Attending regular and special sessions’ Hyperlink to above section?). If you can enter Room XX this means that you can also approach diplomats directly to organise meetings or have very quick meetings on the spot.

Influencing Government statements

To lobby governments to make statements, you do not need ECOSOC accreditation.

Negotiating resolutions (participating in ‘informals’)

To participate in an informal, you do not need ECOSOC accreditation, but you do need to have access to the UN (see ‘Attending regular and special sessions’ above).

  • ‘Informals’ are not live streamed and you cannot participate remotely.

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