UN Human Rights Council

CIVICUS at the UN Office in Geneva

The United Nations system in Geneva includes a large number of intergovernmental organisations, specialised agencies, programmes, funds, offices and research institutes as well as related organisations. Two thirds of the activities of the United Nations system takes place in Geneva, making it a key centre of international co-operation and multilateral negotiation. CIVICUS’ main focus currently concentrates on the human rights mechanisms, most notably the Human Rights Council and its subsidiary bodies such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and Special Procedures, but also on the Treaty bodies. CIVICUS also works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

For more information on our line of work at UN Headquarters, please contact susan.wildingATcivicus.org or renate.bloemATcivicus.org

UN Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) is the United Nation’s preeminent human rights body. Established in 2006, it is mandated to address all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention and make recommendations on them. The UN HRC, which is seated in Geneva, holds no fewer than three regular sessions a year including in March, June and September.

Operating under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council, the Universal Periodic Review requires the examination of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States every 4.5 years. Using international human rights law including the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights treaties to which the State is party as its benchmark, the primary objective of the UPR is to support States to improve the human rights situations in their country.

During UN Human Rights Council sessions, CIVICUS and its partners make and support interventions to address a diverse range of thematic and county specific recommendations to advance the causes and health of civil society. CIVICUS further organises a number of thematic and country specific side events to draw attention to acute restrictions on civil society, human rights defenders and fundamental democratic freedoms. In addition, CIVICUS issues several oral statements and advocacy letters calling on the Council to address persistent violations of basic human rights.

24th Session (September 2013) | 25th Session (March 2014) | 26th Session (June 2014) | 27th Session (September 2014) | 28th Session (March 2015) | 29th Session (June 2015) | 30th Session (September 2015) | 31st Session (March 2016) | 32nd Session (June 2016) | 33rd Session (September 2016) | 34th Session (March 2017) | 35th Session (June 2017) | 36th Session (September 2017) | 37th Session (March 2018) | 38th Session (June-July 2019) | 39th Session (September 2018) | 40th Session (February-March 2019) | 41st Session (June-July 2019) | 42nd Session (September-October) | 43rd Session (February, March, June) | 44th Session (June-July)


CIVICUS and partners produce a number of advocacy statements at the UN Human Rights Council on issues concerning the rights of civil society. See below newsfeed for full archive.

Letters to governments and UN officials

CIVICUS leads and supports joint letters urging the Council to take concerted action to address pressing civil human rights issues. These letters, typically endorsed by a broad range of national, regional and international groups, represent a crucial avenue to mobilize the Council to respond to pressing human rights concerns. See news feed below for latest letters.

Submissions for the Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

CIVICUS’ joint and stand-alone UN Universal Period Review (UPR) submissions on restrictions on the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression and persecution of human rights defenders (HRDs). The submissions, on over 60 countries, also provide a number of substantive recommendations to support the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society.

UPR submissions from the 2nd cycle (2012-2016)
Azerbaijan | Afghanistan |  Bangladesh |  Belarus | Bolivia | Burundi | Burkina Faso | Cambodia | Central African Republic | China | Colombia | Cote d’Ivoire | Democratic Republic of Congo | Egypt | Ethiopia | Eritrea | Honduras | Hungary | Iran | Israel | Jordan | Liberia | Kenya | Kuwait | Malawi |  Malaysia | Maldives | Mauritania | Mexico | Mozambique | Myanmar | Nepal | Nicaragua | Niger | Nigeria | Pakistan | Qatar | Oman | Russia | Rwanda | Serbia | Sierra Leone | Singapore | Somalia | Sudan | Swaziland | South Sudan | Syria | The Gambia | Tanzania | Thailand | Togo | Turkey | Turkmenistan | Uganda | United States of America | Uzbekistan | Venezuela | Vietnam | Yemen | Zimbabwe  

UPR submissions from the 3rd cycle (2017-2021)

Afghanistan | Algeria | Angola | Armenia | AustraliaBangladesh | Benin (FR) | Bahrain | Brazil | Burkina Faso (FR) | Burundi | Cameroon | Chad (FR) | Chile | China | Colombia (ES) | Cote d’Ivoire | Cuba (ES) | Democratic Republic of Congo (FR) | Djibouti (FR) | Ecuador | EgyptEl Salvador (ES) | Equatorial Guinea | Eritrea | Ethiopia | FijiFrance | Gabon (FR) | Guatemala (ES) | Honduras (ES) | HungaryIndia | Indonesia | IraqIsrael | Iran | Jordan | Kenya | KuwaitLao | LebanonMacedonia | Madagascar | Malaysia | Malawi | Maldives | Mauritania (FR) | Mexico (ES) | Morocco | Mozambique | Myanmar | NepalNicaragua (ES) | Niger (FR) | Nigeria | Pakistan | Paraguay (ES) | Peru (ES) | Qatar | Papua New Guineathe Philippines | Poland | Oman | Russia | Republic of Korea | RwandaSaudi Arabia | Senegal (FR) | Serbia | Singapore | South Africa | Sri Lanka | Tanzania | ThailandTogo (FR) | Timor Leste | Tunisia | Turkmenistan | UgandaUkraine (UK) | United Arab Emirates | Uzbekistan Venezuela (ES) |  Vietnam | Yemen | Zambia

UPR submissions from the 4th cycle (2022-2027)

Algeria | Brazil | Ecuador | India | Indonesia | Philippines | Poland | South Africa | Tunisia | United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | Benin (FR) | Guatemala | Pakistan | Peru | Sri Lanka | Zambia  



CIVICUS organises a number of events, workshops and panel discussions to coincide with the sessions of the UN Human Rights Council. The 45th session is taking place in September 2020. We will provide an overview of events in this space closer to the time.

Papers & Resources

Enhancing the effectiveness of the UN Universal Periodic Review: A civil society perspective
CIVICUS examines the experiences of civil society groups from across the world in engaging with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The report, based on interviews with civil society leaders operating in diverse regions of the globe, provides a number of substantive recommendations to strengthen the UPR process to support the creation of a safe and enabling environment for civil society to promote and protect human rights.

Consultation Report: How to Create and Maintain Civil Society Space. What Works? Sub-Saharan Africa
As part of a series of regional consultations on the space and environment for civil society, CIVICUS, under the auspices of the Civic Space Initiative (CSI), convened a civil society consultation with a diverse coalition of civil society representatives from 26 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Civil Society Space Report
This submission includes CIVICUS´ view of how civic space can be enabled, created and maintained; a brief summary of some positive developments and trends related to civic space; some examples of how CSOs operate when space is limited.

Reporting human rights violations to UN Special Procedures: An introductory guide
Civil society representatives and human rights activists can interact directly with UN Special Procedures by: submitting individual cases of human rights abuses; providing information and analysis on specific concerns; working locally to advocate, disseminate and follow up on the work of UN Special Procedures; working closely with other civil society actors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the ground.

August 18, 2022

Burundi: Extend the Special Rapporteur’s mandate

in Geneva

Ahead of the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council (12 September-7 October 2022), CIVICUS joins over 50 civil society organisations in calling the Permanent Representatives…
July 29, 2022

Joint Civil Society Letter to UN Member States: Appointment of the next UN High Commissioner…

in Geneva

Your Excellency, The post of High Commissioner for Human Rights is critical to the promotion and protection of human rights globally, particularly at a…
July 27, 2022

CIVICUS UN Universal Periodic Review submissions on civil society space in Benin, Guatemala, Pakistan, Peru,…

in Geneva

The United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of…
July 08, 2022

Joint NGO statement: key takeaways from the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

in Geneva

Joint  NGO statement from the end of the 50th Session of the United Nations' Human Rights Council   We welcome the resolution on discrimination against…