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3. Your opportunities to engage

3.2 Managing expectations

Managing expectations

The Human Rights Council is a political body, which means that you will need to use the information about the political space (in Chapter 2 of this module) to engage with the Council successfully.

It’s also important to remember that in order to get the biggest impact out of the Council, you have to invest time and energy in the process, including in following up on what happens at the Council.

In other words, you will not be able to convince a majority of States in the Council to adopt a resolution focusing on your country if you show up to the Council for two days. And once you do get the result you want from the Council, you have to put effort into making sure that translates into change back home.

When planning to engage with the Human Rights Council, you will need to keep in mind:

Timing of your action

Some forms of engagement require action before the session of the Human Rights Council, other actions take place during the session, and with others there is follow up after the session. When you take action depends on how you wish to engage.

For example:

  • If you plan to submit a written statement, deliver an oral statement or organise a side event, you need to sign up online (if your NGO has ECOSOC status – see ISHR Academy module Accessing the UN) approximately two weeks before the session starts.

  • If you are planning to advocate for States to deliver a joint statement or influence their national statements, you need to engage with them months in advance of the session.

  • If you are planning to influence the negotiation of resolutions, then you will engage before, but especially during the Council sessions.

  • You can also set up meetings with States during the session as all diplomats will be at the Palais de Nations during that time.


Every human rights defender and NGO has limited resources and you need to use them as efficiently and effectively as possible. In the context of advocacy at the Human Rights Council, this will mean picking and choosing when and how you engage, and also maximising your resources by building strong partnerships with Geneva-based NGOs who will be able to support you and your advocacy.

Similarly, travelling to and staying in Geneva is expensive. Where possible, you can include UN advocacy into grant proposals and budgets to help ensure you have the human and financial resources you need.


If you are coming to Geneva, you will need to have a badge to access the UN buildings - see ISHR Academy module Accessing the UN.

Role of the media

Journalists covering the UN are mostly interested in resolutions, rather than national or joint statements. News coverage of the negotiations of the resolution can help bring attention to the issue which can serve your advocacy.

You can also engage with media at home to bring attention to your advocacy. For example, you can share the video of your oral statement (all are available on UN WebTV).

Continue to find out more about the ways to engage with the Human Rights Council and why it might be useful to you, as well as our tips on how to do it most effectively.

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