Statement on improving working methods in the HRC

Cross regional statement

Mr. President,

I am honoured to make this statement on behalf of 71 Countries on the working methods in the Human Rights Council.

We all can be proud of the increasingly active and assertive Human Rights Council and its many achievements since 2006.

Notwithstanding this, there is broad agreement among members and observers of the Council that there is room for improvement in terms of strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of the body's work, and enhancing its relevance and impact beyond Geneva.

Over the past year the Council has started to initiate steps, in line with the institution-building package and the 2011 review outcome, to ensure that the widening of the Council's work in terms of issues covered, resolutions adopted, panels held and mandates created, is matched by a corresponding deepening of the Council's work through the mobilisation of adequate resources, and a greater focus on follow-up, implementation and impact.

The sponsors of this statement note that the majority of challenges identified in last year's cross-regional statement on working methods remain salient. These include: increased time pressure on the Council's agenda and programme of work; continued inflation in the Council's output; an insufficient focus on and allocation of resources to follow-up and implementation; the mandate-resource gap facing the Council, its mechanisms and the OHCHR; and continued duplication between the work of Geneva and New York.

Mr. President, to highlight some of these challenges, I would like to offer some telling facts and figures:

1)     2014 was another record-breaking year in terms of the output of the Council. A total of 112 texts were adopted, representing a 5% increase on 2013 – the previous record year – and a 160% increase over the number adopted in 2006.

  1. The budgetary implication of this record number of texts in 2014 – namely $19 million in new costs not already covered by the regular budget - was also the highest in the Council's history. This figure is roughly the same as the total cost of all texts adopted in 2012 and 2013 combined.
  2. The Council held 23 panel discussions in 2014, representing a 77% increase over the previous year. Furthermore, almost 500 side events were held during Council sessions last year.
  3. The Council considered 207 reports in 2014, an increase of 7% over the number considered in 2013, and a 10% increase over 2012.
  4. In this March session only, the Council will consider 96 reports and 30 to 40 draft texts and will host 9 panels as well as 16 Interactive Dialogues.

Mr. President,

The Council should not become a victim of its own success. It is important for all delegations to work together, in a spirit of compromise and consensus, to respond to these challenges, bearing in mind the institution-building package and the 2011 review outcome.

With that in mind the cosponsors to this statement share a common ambition to voluntarily take the following steps, without prejudice to the rights of states recognized in paragraph 117 of the annex to Council resolution 5/1.

  • To reconsider the necessity of annualised panel debates and to consider introducing biennualization or sunset-clauses for such recurring panels, limiting the mandate’s duration to three years, as is the case with resolutions renewing thematic Special Procedures mandates. 
  • In line with paragraphs 48 and 49 of the annex to Resolution 16/21, continue to show restraint in resorting to resolutions, and look to table recurring thematic resolutions on a biennial or triennial basis. Several co-sponsors to this statement have already announced biennualization of their traditional initiatives. We encourage others to follow this example. This is without prejudice to urgent issues and to scheduled mandate renewals.
  • In line with paragraph 117 of the annex to resolution 5/1 and paragraph 52 of the annex to resolution 16/21, notify delegations of draft texts before or at least during the first week of the session.
  • Shorten the text of resolutions and avoid repetition.
  • In line with paragraph 117 of the annex to resolution 5/1 minimize unnecessary duplication of initiatives with the General Assembly/Third Committee.
  • Take into account the capacity constraints of the Council when launching new initiatives or continuing initiatives.  
  • Make better use of the other, inter-sessional, work formats mentioned in paragraph 115 of the annex to resolution 5/1, such as seminars and round tables.

Thank you.

Statement delivered on behalf of:

Albania, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Monaco, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Yemen