#HRCpledging | Event wrap up


Following a recent event in New York, ISHR and Amnesty International hosted a public discussion in Geneva with States seeking election to the UN Human Rights Council.

The event provided an opportunity for States to present their candidacies for the period 2017-2019 and to be subject to questions and scrutiny, consistent with ISHR's commitment to enhancing transparency in Human Rights Council elections and promoting adherence to Council membership standards. All participating States were represented at the Ambassadorial level, other than the United Kingdom, which was represented by their Minister for Human Rights, Baroness Anelay. 

While the event, which was held for the fifth year in a row in New York in July has become an established feature of the annual election process for candidates to the Council, this was the first time this event was held in Geneva.

Facilitated by Peggy Hicks from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, candidates used the event to elaborate on the pledges they have made in connection with their candidacies, and were questioned on how they would work as members to address human rights violations and to strengthen the work of the Council.

Questions to candidates came from within the room, as well as via Twitter using the #HRCPledging hashtag.

Participating candidate States included Brazil, Croatia, Guatemala, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Tunisia, United States and the United Kingdom.

Disappointingly, eight candidates – China, Cuba, Egypt, Malaysia, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and South Africa – either did not respond to the invitation, or declined, to participate.

Candidate State were questioned on the situation of migrants; discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; restrictions on civil society space, free expression and assembly and human rights violations in detention.

Questions were also raised on issues such as cooperation with the UN human rights system and States’ plans to ratify core human rights treaties.

Among the many responses:

  • Brazil acknowledged the horrific human rights violations taking place around the world, and referred to its national council mandated to address these issues at home
  • The United Kingdom confirmed that ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances is under 'active consideration' and committed to full cooperation with all Special Procedure mandate holders, regardless of whether they voted in favour of their establishment or not
  • Japan indicated that they are carefully considering concerns expressed by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, David Kaye, in relation to the alleged use of excessive force against protesters in Okinawa
  • Guatemala confirmed its strong support for combating discrimination and violence on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity and welcomed the establishment of a new Independent Expert in that regard
  • Hungary committed to strongly supporting the participation of civil society at the Council and ending intimidation and reprisals against those who cooperate with the UN
  • Tunisia updated attendees on the establishment of a national human rights institution in the country
  • The United States committed to using its term to strengthen the Council's preventative functions and to respond more rapidly and effectively to human rights emergencies and crises, including through the development of 'trigger' criteria and mechanisms
  • Iraq reflected on the ways in which it has benefited from cooperating with the UN Human Rights Council, encouraging other States to do the same
  • Croatia pledged to strengthen synergies between human rights, security and development at the UN

Coinciding with the event, ISHR developed 'scorecards' for each candidate. 'These criteria should be carefully considered by States when it comes to casting their votes at the General Assembly in New York to determine who is worthy of a seat at the world's human rights high table,' Mr Lynch said.

You can watch the event on Periscope via the ISHR twitter account here.

Big thanks again to the missions of Canada, Albania and Mongolia for co-sponsoring the event.


  • United Nations
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • Albania
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Guatemala
  • Hungary
  • Iraq
  • Japan
  • Mongolia
  • Tunisia
  • United Kingdom
  • United States