Human Rights Council: Hearings for the 2016-2018 Term

16 June 2015

Yesterday, candidates for the Human Rights Council responded to questions from member states, civil society, and the general public in an open session held at UN headquarters in New York. 

During the session, candidates responded to questions posed on Twitter as well as in person. The topics ranged from the national human rights records and mechanisms adopted in each country as well as the candidates' priorities and vision for membership on the Human Rights Council.  Gender equality and the plight of migrants and refugees were top concerns during the session. The use of torture; LGBTI rights; protection of human rights defenders; and the rights of indigenous populations were also addressed. 

Eight candidates participated in these hearings: Belgium; Georgia; Germany; Kyrgyzstan; Panama; South Korea; Slovenia; and Switzerland. Currently, there are twenty two known candidates.  

In the African group; Latin American and Caribbean group; and Western European and Others group, the total number of known candidates is equal to the number of seats allotted to the region during the next election, suggesting that these regions may be running a "clean slate" in the fall.  A lack of competition in Human Rights Council elections has been a persistent issue. Charles Radcliffe of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, serving as moderator of the hearings, observed yesterday that the elections have been less competitive than one would hope.   

At least six countries have issued voluntary pledges, as suggested by General Assembly resolution 60/251: Belgium, Georgia, Germany, Panama, South Korea, and Switzerland.  Notably, all of these states participated in yesterday's hearings.  

 The hearings were organized by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and Amnesty International for the fourth consecutive year. They were co-sponsored by the permanent missions of Botswana, Brazil, and the Netherlands to the United Nations.  

The entire event can also be found on UN webcast.