54th session of the Human Rights Council

The 54th session of the Human Rights Council took place in hybrid format, in Geneva and online, from 11 September to 13 October

Reports by the High Commissioner for Human Rights 

Oral updates and country reports delivered by the High Commissioner on the work of his Office covered country situations including Afghanistan, Georgia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Yemen. 

The Public Defender’s Office of Georgia delivered a statement in response to the High Commissioner’s oral updates of the technical assistance provided by his Office to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights. 

Interaction with Special Procedures mandate holders 

The Human Rights Council engaged in interactive dialogues with a variety of Special Procedures mandate holders. Many NHRIs participated in these dialogues via oral and video statements, including: 

  • Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, to whom the NHRIs of Burundi, India, the Republic of Korea and Nigeria delivered statements. 
  • Working Group on arbitrary detention to whom the NHRI of Mongolia delivered a statement.  
  • Special Rapporteur on the right to development, to whom the NHRI of Burundi delivered a statement. 
  • Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, to whom the NHRI of Mauritania delivered a statement.  
  • Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, to whom the NHRIs of Canada and Burundi delivered a statement. 

Interaction with Human Rights Council-mandated investigative bodies 

The Council also addressed serious country specific human rights situations, including on Myanmar, Ethiopia, Syria, Burundi, Belarus, Ukraine and Venezuela. 

Several NHRIs engaged with these investigative bodies, including: 

  • The NHRI of Ethiopia delivered an oral statement in response to the report of the Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia. 
  • The NHRI of Burundi delivered an oral statement in response to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi.

Panels and Annual Discussions 

The 54th session of the Human Rights Council saw the continuation of panels and discussions taking place on the protection and promotion of human rights. NHRIs engaged in the following discussions: 

  • The NHRI of Morocco delivered a statement during the panel discussion on youth and human rights, which focused on young people’s engagement with climate change and global environmental decision-making processes. 
  • In addition, the NHRI of Morocco engaged during the Council’s panel discussion on cyberbullying against children. 

Adoption of UPR reports 

The Council adopted the UPR outcome reports on France, Tonga, Botswana, Romania, Mali, Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein, Serbia. The NHRIs of France, Luxembourg, Mali and Burundi delivered statements upon the adoption of the reports. 


GANHRI’s engagement with the Human Rights Council and support to NHRIs 

GANHRI delivered a statement at the 54th session of the Human Rights Council in response to the report of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons 

We noted with concern the Independent Expert’s findings on the pervasive and alarming instances of violence and neglect aimed at older persons, and particularly the insufficient national and international safeguards in place to protect them.  

GANHRI stressed on the role of NHRIs in advising, monitoring, and reporting on the rights of older persons and the Working Group on the Rights of Older Persons which provides NHRIs with a platform to advocate on international fora for comprehensive measures to protect the human rights of older persons.  

Finally, we acknowledged the important collaborative work that is being done at the UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing in New York and the Human Rights Council.  

 

During the general debate on Item 3, GANHRI delivered a statement urging States to renew their commitment to human rights-based action and fully implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as 2023 marks the midway point to its set deadline. 

We expressed concern over the slow progress in realising the SDGs and its disproportionate impact on the poorest and most vulnerable populations and urged all States to prioritise and to fully deliver on the 2030 Agenda’s central promise “to leave no one behind.” 

Further, GANHRI stressed on the important and unique role that NHRIs play in advancing rights-based implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is in line with SDG 16 that focuses on the promotion of peace, justice, and strong institutions at all levels.   

Finally, and most importantly, we urged governments to strengthen NHRIs, providing them with adequate technical and financial resources, and to establish independent NHRIs in countries where they do not currently exist. 

 

Lastly, GANHRI engaged in the interactive dialogue with the Assistant Secretary General in response to the report of the UN Secretary General on reprisals for cooperation with the UN. 

We expressed our deep concern about reported acts of reprisals against those who engage or seek to engage with UN bodies and mechanisms and firmly recalled the right of all human rights defenders, including NHRIs, to access, communicate and share specific information on human rights situations with the UN. 

We welcomed the good practices identified in the report. 

We shared the outcomes of our global survey conducted in April 2023 to assess the extent of threats and other acts of intimidation against NHRIs, which showed that NHRIs continue to experience reprisals in different forms for undertaking human rights work in accordance with their mandate, including as a result of their cooperation with the United Nations. Women, environmental, and LGBTQI+ human rights defenders were identified as particularly at risk.   

We called on States and the UN to enhance efforts in protecting and supporting NHRIs to exercise their broad mandates freely and independently without fear of reprisals.  We also called on all States to fully cooperate with the ASG and other UN human rights protection mechanisms and stressed the need to focus on both the protection and prevention of reprisals.  

Finally, we reiterated our commitment to work closely with the four NHRI regional networks to protecting the independence of NHRIs facing threats or reprisals for undertaking their work according to their mandate. 


Resolutions adopted by  the Human Rights Council at the 54th Session  

The Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted 36 resolutions; 10 were adopted by a recorded vote, including “the right to development”. 

The remaining resolutions were adopted by consensus, such as “Promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights within the context of addressing inequalities” and “Enforced or involuntary disappearances”. The text of the resolutions and the results of vote are available here.  

In the resolution on the human rights of older persons (A/HRC/54/L.20), the HRC took note with satisfaction the report of the Independent Expert, condemned in the strongest possible terms the persistence and pervasiveness of all forms of violence against and abuse and neglect of older persons worldwide, and reaffirmed that all older persons should be able to live free from violence, abuse and neglect. 

The HRC also expressed deep concern that all forms of discrimination and violence against older persons impair the full enjoyment by older persons of their human rights and fundamental freedoms and hinder their full, effective and meaningful participation in public and private life.  

The Council called upon all States to prohibit all forms of discrimination against older persons and to adopt and implement non-discriminatory policies, national strategies, action plans, legislation and regulations, including in response to violence, abuse and neglect. This includes the collection and analysis of disaggregated data, by age, gender, disability, marital status, area of residence and other relevant criteria, in order to identify and render visible inequalities and discriminatory patterns. It also includes the establishment and/or enhancement of effective redress mechanisms. 

The HRC also called on all stakeholders, including States, the entities of the United Nations system, civil society, national human rights institutions and the private sector to combat ageism as a root cause of violence, abuse and neglect, as well as to eliminate violence, abuse and neglect in all their forms and to adopt a human rights-based approach in all programmes, campaigns and activities relating to ageing and older persons. 

Finally, the HRC requested OHCHR to convene a meeting of human rights experts academia, national human rights institutions and civil society, including with the meaningful and effective participation of older persons and their representative organizations, to discuss and draw up recommendations on the human rights obligations of States regarding violence against and abuse and neglect of older persons in all settings. 

In its resolution on Cooperation with the United Nations, the Council reaffirmed the right of everyone individually and in association with others, to unhindered access to and communication with international bodies, in particular the UN, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights. To this end, the HRC strongly condemned all forms of intimidation or reprisal, both online and offline, by State and non-State actors against individuals and groups who seek to cooperate, cooperate or have cooperated with the UN in the field of human rights. 

The resolution urges States to take all appropriate measures to prevent the occurrence of acts of intimidation or reprisal, whether online or offline, including, where necessary, by adopting and implementing specific legislation and policies to promote a safe and enabling environment for engagement with the UN on human rights and to effectively protect those who seek to cooperate, cooperate or have cooperated with the UN. It also calls on States to combat impunity, including by conducting prompt, impartial and independent investigations and ensuring accountability for all acts of intimidation or reprisal by State and non-State actors. States must also ensure that legislation, policies and practices do not hinder the access, either online or offline, of individuals and groups to international bodies.  

Lastly, the HRC encouraged the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights to strengthen efforts to develop and implement at UN level a more comprehensive system for preventing and addressing allegations of acts of intimidation or reprisal as well as all UN entities to strengthen efforts to prevent and address acts of intimidation or reprisal. 

 

Watch the HRC54 UN Webcast


HRC54 NHRIs and GANHRI Statements

Biennial panel discussion on youth and human rights

  • Morocco: Conseil National des Droits de l’homme, Speaker: Ms. Malak Benseghir, Chargée de l’interaction avec le SNU

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Panel discussion on cyber bullying against children

  • Morocco: Conseil National des Droits de l’homme, Speaker: Mr. Khalid Hanefioui, Chargé des droits de l’enfant
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ITEM 3: ID with SR water and sanitation

  • India: National Human Rights Commission, Speaker: Mr. Bharat Lal, Secretary General
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ITEM 3: ID with SR on truth, justice and reparation

  • Burundi: Commission nationale indépendante des droits de l’homme, Speaker: Dr. Sixte Vigny Nimuraba, Président
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ITEM 3: ID with IE on older persons

  • GANHRI, Speaker: Carolina Casotti D. B. Crittin, Human Rights Officer
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  • Burundi: Commission nationale indépendante des droits de l’homme, Speaker: Dr. Sixte Vigny Nimuraba, Président
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  • India: National Human Rights Commission, Speaker: Dr. Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay, Commissioner
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  • Republic of Korea: National Human Rights Commission of Korea, Speaker: Mr. Doohwan Song, Chairperson
  • Nigeria: National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria, Speaker: Tony Ojukwu, Substantive Executive Secretary
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ITEM 3: ID with WG on arbitrary detention

  • Mongolia: National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia, Speaker: Mr Batzeveg Enkkhbold, Commissioner
    Country mission report

ITEM 3: ID with SR on slavery

  • Mauritania: Commission Nationale des Droits de l’Homme de Mauritanie, Speaker: Maitre Ahmed Salem Bouhoubeyni, Président
    Country mission report

ITEM 3: ID with WG on enforced disappearances

  • Honduras: Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, Speaker: Ms. Blanca Izaguirre, Comisionada
    Country mission report

ITEM 3: ID with SR on right to development

  • Burundi: Commission nationale indépendante des droits de l’homme, Speaker: Dr. Sixte Vigny Nimuraba, Président
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ITEM 3: General Debate

  • GANHRI, Speaker: Mr. Daniel Bekele, Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission
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Item 4: ID with Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia

  • Ethiopia: Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, Speaker: Mr. Daniel Bekele, Chief Commissioner
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Item 4: ID with SR on Burundi

  • Burundi: Commission nationale indépendante des droits de l’homme, Speaker: Dr. Sixte Vigny Nimuraba, Président
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ITEM 3: ID with SR on rights of indigenous peoples

  • Canada: Canadian Human Rights Commission, Speaker: Charlotte-Anne Malischewski, Interim Chief Commissioner
    Country mission report
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  • Burundi: Commission nationale indépendante des droits de l’homme, Speaker: Dr. Sixte Vigny Nimuraba, Président
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ITEM 5: ID on SG report on reprisals

  • GANHRI, Speaker: Ms. Ameera Alhedfa, Director, National Human Rights Committee of Qatar
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  • Qatar: National Human Rights Committee, Speaker: Mr. Sultan Hassan Al Jamali, General Secretary
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ITEM 6: UPR outcomes

  • France: Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme, Speaker: Ms. Magali Lafoucarde, Secrétaire Générale
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  • Luxembourg: Commission consultative des droits de l’Homme, Speaker: Ms. Rossler Fabienne Nitya, Secrétaire Générale
  • Mali: Commission nationale des droits de l’homme du Mali, Speaker: Mr. Aguibou Bouaré, Président
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  • Burundi: Commission nationale indépendante des droits de l’homme, Speaker: Dr. Sixte Vigny Nimuraba, Président
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ITEM 7: General Debate

  • State of Palestine: Independent Commission for Human Rights, Speaker: Mr. Issam A. Abualhaj, Commissioner General

ITEM 10: Presentation of HC/SG country reports and oral updates (Cambodia, Georgia, Yemen) followed by General Debate

  • Georgia: Public Defender’s Office, Speaker: Mr. Levan Ioseliani, Public Defender of Georgia
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