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1. Understanding the Human Rights Council

1.5 Resolutions – What does the Human Rights Council do?

The main outputs of the regular Council sessions are:

  1. Resolutions
  2. Government statements

Lets explore the first in detail:


Human Rights Council resolutions are texts that represent the position of the Council’s members (or the majority of them) on particular human rights issues and situations.

Resolutions focus on either country specific or thematic human rights issues, and can lead to actions that help address these issues.

For example, resolutions can:

  • call for investigations
  • call for reports by UN offices or officials
  • call for panel discussions or events to allow for debate and sharing of ideas
  • call for the appointment of independent experts (such as Special Procedures)
  • develop norms and standards

Sample resolution:

Human Rights Council resolutions are drafted and negotiated among States with the aim to advance and bring forward specific human rights issues. At the end of a session, the entire Council either adopts a resolution (by consensus or with a vote) or rejects it.

Resolutions are drafted by a “core group” of States (leaders of the resolution), with one or two States from the core group chosen to be the “pen holder”. The members of the core group are the “main sponsors” of the resolution, and countries that wish to show their strong commitment to the resolution can join as a “co-sponsor”.

Resolutions are negotiated during “informal meetings” or “informal consultations” – also known as “informals” – that are announced on the Council’s “Bulletin of Informal Meetings”. Each draft resolution must be discussed in at least one informal consultation that all States can attend.

During the informals, the core group presents the draft text of the resolution and States are invited to make comments on the entire text in chronological order, including suggestions to edit the language, and add or remove paragraphs. States also negotiate resolutions outside of the “informal consultations”.

Usually NGOs are allowed into the room for informals, and NGOs can also be invited to make comments – if the core group allows it.

States are responsible for implementing a Human Rights Council resolution in their countries.

For more information on Resolutions, including examples and how you can engage in the negotiating process, see ISHR Academy: Resolutions – Why are they useful?

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