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2. Preparing for Geneva

2.3 So… you are coming to the Human Rights Council

Before you come to the Human Rights Council, there are some practical steps you should take to prepare. By getting to know the information in the documents below, you will be able to hit the ground running, and focus your energy on your advocacy work as effectively as possible.

Illustration of the Human Rights Council

Key resources to help you navigate the Human Rights Council:

  • Calendar of yearly events at the Human Rights Council

    • Cross check the events calendar to help plan the dates of your trip, and to see what other opportunities and events you might be able to take advantage of.
    • Sample available here
  • Voluntary calendar of Human Rights Council resolution

    • Overview of the planned resolutions at each Council session. It focuses on resolutions that are recurring (i.e. that are presented every year or every few years and have the same general theme, but with specific content that changes each time they are presented). It is not exhaustive, as each year there are other resolutions, for example responding to particular crises or issues (thanks to civil society engagement!).
    • Sample available here
  • Human Rights Council Programme of Work

    • The Programme of Work changes slightly each time, but they give a good sense of when particular agenda items take place in March, in June and in September. For example:
      • what week (and in what session!) each Special Procedure is likely to present their reports
      • when the OHCHR will present reports from its country offices, etc.
    • During the Council session itself, updated Programmes of Work are published in the Extranet (see below).
    • Sample Programmes of Work:
      • March session available here
      • June session available here
      • September session available here

Top Tips

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Using the Programme of Work

  • The Programme of Work helps you to plan when you need to be in Geneva to deliver a particular meeting or deliver a statement.

  • Remember that some meetings (especially General Debates) take longer than planned, and so you should plan carefully.

  • For example, if you only give yourself one day in Geneva, it’s possible that you won’t get a chance to deliver the statement because that part of the agenda has been delayed till the next day.

  • Human Rights Council Annotated Agenda

    • The Agenda Items of the Council during its regular session. It helps you to understand the Council Programme of Work, and also helps you understand what you need to focus on your statement to ensure that it is relevant to the Item during which you are speaking.
    • Available here
  • Human Rights Council Seating Arrangement

    • The seating arrangement inside Room XX, where the main meeting of the Council takes place. The seating plan changes every year to reflect the membership. You can use this to help you know where to look for diplomats from a particular country. Country names are also on display in the Room XX, in French.
    • Sample available here
  • Bulletin of Informal Meeting

    • A sample of the Bulletin of Informal meetings, which gives information on the informal and side events taking place beyond the Council plenary meetings (in Room XX). Each day a new one is published to have the most updated information, and these can be found on the OHCHR website in the section dedicated to each Council session. It tells you the main sponsor of each side event, but not all the co-sponsors.
    • Sample available here
  • Human Rights Council Extranet

    • The Human Rights Council extranet contains a great deal of information on the Council, including statements delivered during the HRC, the most updated Programme of Work, the text of draft resolutions, etc. Access the Extranet here.
  • Human Rights Council sessions

    • Each HRC session has a separate webpage on the OHCHR website, where you can find for that particular session:
      • Order of the Day
      • Programme of Work
      • Agenda
      • Bulletin of Informal Meeting
      • Resolutions, Decisions and President’s Statement
      • Documentation, including all reports that will be presented at the session

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