Towards 2026 – Perspectives on the future of the Human Rights Council (Glion VI)
Universal Rights Group
The sixth Glion Human Rights Dialogue (Glion VI), organised by Switzerland and the Universal Rights Group (URG), in partnership with the Permanent Missions of Botswana, Fiji, Iceland, Mexico and Thailand, was held on 27-28 May 2019 and considered the topic: ‘Towards 2026 – Perspectives on the future of the Human Rights Council.’ In particular the Glion VI retreat and its four preparatory policy dialogues held in Geneva and New York looked at the 2021-2026 review of the Council’s status; implementation support and follow-up by the international human rights system; and emerging human rights issues and developing effective responses.
The Human Rights Council (Council) has secured a number of significant achievements since its establishment in 2006. It has continued much of the important work of the former Commission on Human Rights by, for example, providing a forum for debate; maintaining a system of Special Procedures; and widening the global framework of human rights norms and standards. At the same time, it has taken further steps to strengthen the relevance and delivery of the UN’s human rights pillar. These include: building a powerful new peer review mechanism (the Universal Periodic Review – UPR); focusing to a greater degree on supporting and following-up on the domestic implementation of States’ human rights obligations and commitments; contributing to the effective prevention of human rights violations and crises; promoting accountability for serious violations through the creation of fact-finding missions, commissions of inquiry and, in the case of Myanmar, of an investigative mechanism; and forging strengthened links with the UN’s other two pillars – the development pillar and the peace and security pillar.
Yet, the Council also faces challenges to the effective delivery of its mandate as set by the General Assembly (GA) in resolution 60/251.
The GA’s review of the Council’s status, due to take place between 2021 and 2026, offers an opportunity for States and other stakeholders to reflect on these achievements and challenges, and to consider how the body might strengthen its effectiveness and impact, both in its own regard and in combination with the other two pillars of the UN. Moreover, the 2021-2026 review offers a chance to look ahead and reflect not only on how the international community might better respond to today’s human rights challenges, but also on how it should respond to the challenges of tomorrow.
Glion VI provided a platform for UN member States, the President of the Human Rights Council, senior UN officials (including the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination), Special Procedures mandate-holders, NGOs, human rights defenders, academics and others, to consider these issues. The retreat adopted a bottom-up approach, focused on identifying ways to strengthen the on-the-ground impact of the international human rights system, and then ‘working backwards’ to consider how to strengthen the UN’s human rights machinery to better secure that impact. Importantly, Glion VI was premised on an understanding that the human rights pillar can only secure such improvements in cooperation with the other two pillars of the UN. Finally, Glion VI sought to complement and contribute to existing processes, including the Council President’s consultations ahead of the 2021-2026 review, and the Council’s on-going efforts to strengthen its efficiency.
Other relevant documents to the Glion process can be found below:
- Concept note (version française)
- Consolidated report of the four preparatory policy dialogues
- Background paper for breakout group I – ‘The General Assembly’s 2021-2026 review of the Council’s status’ (version française)
- Background paper for breakout group II – ‘Implementation support and follow-up by the international human rights system’
- Background paper for breakout group III – ‘Emerging issues and developing effective Council responses’
- List of participants
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