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3. Your opportunities to engage

3.4 How to deliver an oral statement

This section provides tips on how to prepare and deliver an impactful oral statement at the Human Rights Council.

Oral statements

Steps:

Strategic Tips:

ECOSOC accreditation requirements

Only an organization with ECOSOC status can register for a slot to deliver an oral statement. If your organisation does not have ECOSOC status, you will have to ask an NGO that does, to reserve the slot. The statement will be delivered in the name of their organisation, so the NGO will most likely work with you to ensure that the statement is in line with their policies.

An organization with ECOSOC status will need to provide you with a letter of accreditation in order for you to access the UN buildings to deliver an oral statement during a Human Rights Council session.

If your organisation does not have ECOSOC status, you will have to ask an NGO that does to provide that accreditation letter. If that organisation is different from the one that has registered the speaking slot, you will also need to ensure that you have been authorised as a speaker. See ISHR Academy: Accessing the UN

Timing and pace of your statement

Keep in mind the number of minutes you have to deliver your oral statement – and make sure you don’t run over! Timing varies according to the type of debate/agenda item during the HRC session.

  • General Debates

    • 1 min 30 secs – Approx 250 words max
  • Everything else

    • 2 mins – Approx 300 words max

Top Tips

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Some things to bear in mind for a statement

  • The number of words you're able to include depends on the pace at which you read

  • If you take too long, you will be cut off by the person moderating the session (President of the Council or a representative). The time limits are strict!

  • If you read too quickly, no one will be able to follow what you say – including the interpreters

  • Practice reading the statement slowly and clearly, in the tone you wish to convey and with appropriate pauses

  • Bear in mind that you can deliver / read out a slightly shorter version of your statement than the document that you have uploaded onto the website

  • If you do deliver a shorter version, share that shorter text with the Council secretariat in Room XX so that they can give it to the interpreters

Live streaming and recording of all Human Rights Council sessions

You can watch sessions of the Council, along with special sessions and Universal Periodic Review sessions, as they happen or afterwards on UN WebTV.

Media attention

The recorded video of your oral statement can be uploaded to your website and shared on social media in order to raise awareness of the issue and/or build the profile of your NGO. You can share the video and text of your statement with the media.

Joint NGO oral statements

You don't have more time to make your oral statement if you make a joint statement. However, you might join a statement or seek other NGOs to join your statement for solidarity and to show wide support or concern regarding an issue, or if you want to make a statement on other issues than the focus of your individual statement.

Each organisation can register for only one speaking slot in a particular debate, but they can join an unlimited number.

Less is sometimes more – Don’t flood the HRC!

It is more strategic for your organisation to deliver one targeted statement at the most appropriate time during an HRC session, rather than make numerous statements on the same issue wherever it can be squeezed in.

Avoid being silenced

You should ensure your statement is linked to the HRC Agenda Item, otherwise States can call a ‘Point of Order’ and stop you finishing your statement.

If a country wants to make a point of order, they will inform the President of the Council (or representative) by raising their placard (the paper showing the name of their State), and the President will interrupt the statement and give the State the floor to explain why they are calling a point of order.

States can rely on one of three justifications:

  1. the statement is off topic
  2. the speaker is not representing that organisation (has not been authorised by the ECOSOC NGO that registered for the speaking slot)
  3. the statement violates the Rules of Procedure - the Council uses the rules of the UN General Assembly.

You will be required to end the statement at this point, if the HRC President agrees that the point of order is valid. If the President does not agree, they will give the floor back to you, the speaker. In rare cases, the Council votes to decide if a point of order is valid.

If you think your statement is so controversial that there might be a point of order called, warn ‘friendly’ states (for example, States who publicly commit to protection of civil society space and human rights defenders – e.g. EU, Switzerland, Norway, Canada – and countries that are supportive of the content of your statement). They can then prepare themselves to argue against the point of order if necessary.

Example:

ISHR faced a point of order challenge when we declared that we would use time allocated to a statement to observe a moment of silence to remember the death of a Chinese human rights defender and all those who lose their lives struggling to defend human rights:


See the next sections on how you can engage with the Human Rights Council in other ways, including through side events, meetings with States, resolutions and Government statements.

Learn more

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