Human rights council chamber

Resource/paper: introduction to the UN Human Rights Council

DefendDefenders regularly enga­ges with the UN Human Rights Coun­cil (HRC), including through its Geneva office. In a paper released today, “The UN Human Rights Council: What is it? How can it help human rights defenders? How to engage with it?,” we provide human rights de­­fen­­­ders (HRDs) and partners with basic information on the HRC, the ways in which it can help HRDs and streng­then their work at the national level, and how to engage with stakeholders and contribute to the work of the HRC.  

Section 1 presents basic information about the HRC, its mandate, responsibilities, membership, and functioning. It also discusses HRC elections, regional group dynamics, and the HRC’s own bodies and mechanisms, including the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), special procedures, and investigative mechanisms.  

Section 2 analyses how the HRC can help HRDs, including through its resolutions, investigations, engagement with States, and States’ statements and initiatives. The section also discusses civil society advocacy at the HRC – the Council is the UN body in which the space for civil society is the broadest.  

Section 3 provides insights as to how to engage with the HRC and contribute to meaningful outcomes. It discusses various advocacy objectives, interventions, and dimensions, as well as the tools HRDs can use to engage with the Council.  

The paper is also available in the “Resources” section of the website (Tools for HRDs > Resources). 


Human Rights Defender of the month: Kasale Maleton Mwaana

Kasale’s human rights activism precedes his years. The son of pastoralist parents from Ngorongoro district in northern Tanzania, he grew up seeing his parents and entire community having to defend their land and way of life against authorities who thought their lands could be put to better use. Now, at 25, Kasale is already one of the most recognizable advocates of his people’s cause, much to the ire of Tanzanian authorities.
“Our people’s struggle goes back many generations. It started with the pushing out of our forefathers from Serengeti to gazette Serengeti National Park in 1959, and then further evictions from the Ngorongoro crater to gazette the Ngorongoro conservation area in 1975. Since then, every generation has had to resist further evictions. It’s now my generation’s turn,” he says.