Feb 25 2020
Past event

Towards a more inclusive, representative and responsive Council

On Tuesday 25th February 2020, the Permanent Missions of the Maldives, the Netherlands, Armenia, Australia, and Switzerland, with the support of the Universal Rights Group organised a high level side event in the margins of the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council on ‘Towards a more inclusive, representative and responsive Council’.

If the Human Rights Council is to truly fulfil its mandate to promote ‘universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner,’ it must be accessible to and deliver for all UN member States (irrespective of size or level of development) and all ‘the Peoples’ of the United Nations.

Four interlinked means of achieving this goal are to:

  • Widen State participation at the Council so that all UN member States can access the body and engage in an informed and meaningful way;
  • Ensure that the Council delivers on all parts of its mandate in a comprehensive manner; 
  • Defend and widen civil society space, so that independent NGOs, human rights defenders and the victims of human rights violations have a voice; 
  • Promote a diverse and inclusive Council membership, in line with the criteria for membership set down in GA res. 60/251, to ensure the body is representative, legitimate and credible. 

Many of the efficiency and effectiveness reforms of recent years have been designed, in part, to respond to some or all of these goals. As have steps such as the creation of a LDC-SIDS Trust Fund, the opening of a ‘Commonwealth Small States Office,’ and, more recently, the opening of a Small States ‘help-desk.’ It was also in this spirit that in 2019, a group of States came together to create a ‘contact group on Council participation and membership.’ 

These efforts have scored some important successes. For example, over recent years, a number of SIDS have opened new Permanent Missions in Geneva, 153 delegates and fellows from 71 countries have benefited from the LDC-SIDS Trust Fund to participate in Council sessions, and the number of States that have served as members of the Council has increased from less than a hundred in 2018, to 116 today

The side event will sought to take stock of, and celebrate these positive developments, and also to consider how all relevant stakeholders can work together to drive further and deeper progress.



H.E. Ms. Monique van Daalen, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

HighLevel Panelists

H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Maldives

H.E. Mr. Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland

H.E. Mr. Barry Faure, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Blue Economy of Seychelles

H.E. Mr. Omer G. Ismail, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Sudan

H.E. Mr. Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia

Mr. Marc Limon, Executive Director Universal Rights Group

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