30 November 2018, GENEVA – The Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue (“the Geneva Centre”) was invited by the Secretariat of the Human Rights Council (HRC) to participate in the fifth informal consultation session on the long-term efficiency of the HRC. The one-day consultation session was held on 29 November 2018 at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). Permanent Missions, national institutions, international organizations, NGOs and human rights bodies were present at the informal consultative session.
The Geneva Centre – represented by its junior project and communication officer Mr. Blerim Mustafa – attended the consultative session held at UNOG. In his statement to the participants - addressed on behalf of the Geneva Centre and the African Centre Against Torture -, concrete recommendations were provided to the Secretariat on how to enhance the long-term efficiency of the HRC.
Under agenda item one on improving the annual programme of work of the HRC, the speaker highlighted that the proposal to introduce a cap of 2 and 4 hours on individual and clustered dialogue respectively would not bring much saving of time as there are only few special cases that exceed this time limit. In order to efficiently gain and save time during the interactive dialogue sessions, the speaker recommended to the Secretariat of the Council to cluster thematic issues according to inter-relatedness and avoid plonking themes that are irrelevant to one another. “In that case, one could save some more time,” stated the speaker.
It was also stated that time-saving projected under this item would be futile in the long-run if “the number of Special Procedures Mandate Holders and therefore that of IDs continue to increase unabated” as this would take up the time being saved elsewhere. Therefore, the Geneva Centre and the African Centre against Torture suggested that a moratorium on the creation of new mandates be decided until the Council carries out the mandated review and rationalisation of thematic Special Procedures Mandate Holders in line with the provisions set forth in paragraph 6, Resolution 60/251, that directs the Council to, inter alia, “where necessary, improve and rationalize all mandates […] in order to maintain a system of special procedures […].”
With regard to speaking time, the speaker pleaded that the Council spare to individuals speaking from the floor the indignity of a time-limit of less than two minutes. This would enable the Council to avoid becoming “a lecturing hall rather than a debating house.” It was further added that “If time is still insufficient after the completion of the efficiency reviews, something else should be made to give, lest participation, dialogue and the desired cooperation become the flotsam and jetsam of Council sessions.”
In relation to agenda item two regarding rationalization of resolutions and initiatives, the Geneva Centre and the African Centre Against Torture welcomed point 12 that underlines that the process of rationalisation should apply to all resolutions as appropriate as this would enable all parties to “exercise self-restraint in regards to the tabling and adoption of resolutions whether country- or thematic-specific.”
Regarding the last agenda item on the introduction of technology measures, the co-signatories took note of the proposal to introduce online reservation for side events, but highlighted that this proposal would “will be harmful to small- and medium-sized NGOs as they do not have the resources and the capacity of larger stakeholders to make their reservations a long time in advance.”
To avoid this, the speaker recommended that there should be a fair rotation/distribution between stakeholders, with equitable representation of smaller- and medium-sized NGOs “carried out through close coordination between the Secretariat of the Human Rights Council and the NGO Liaison Office Unit of the United Nations.”
The joint position paper of the Geneva Centre and the African Centre Against Torture can be downloaded at: