The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental space dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
At the same time, it is a space that is driven by a combination of national interests and civil society push.
✔ it’s political (you can play with that) ✔ States often care more about what other States say than what experts say ✔ it’s a high profile space and States care about the fact that other States are listening when they are criticised within this forum ✔ it’s empowering, especially for victims, to be able to raise their voice at the HRC ✔ it’s a mechanism which creates more useful and targeted mechanisms (for example, those that focus on specific country situations) ✔ you have very easy access to diplomats (including from your own country)
☒ it’s political (you have to work within that) ☒ it takes a lot of work and time to put a country on the agenda of the HRC ☒ it’s slow ☒ it’s hard to navigate without having a partner in Geneva ☒ it has limited obvious impact on the national level (it’s a ‘talk shop’) ☒ HRC resolutions are not really binding ☒ it has no enforcement mechanism - it’s up to each State themselves to implement the resolutions ☒ countries that are ‘politically sensitive’ can escape scrutiny ☒ some of its mechanisms are confidential and fully controlled by States, with no clear outcome (e.g. the Complaints Mechanism) ☒ some of its own mechanisms can be used to attack human rights (e.g. when States use the Advisory Committee – composed of States – to investigate an issue, rather than independent experts like the Special Procedures)
⚠ you would be put in too much danger
⚠ your country doesn’t care about international criticism
⚠ you have access to other spaces that you can use more effectively to influence your State
Test yourself on what you've learnt so far in the next section.