17 Aug

ISHR joined a group of over 50 organisations calling on the UN Human Rights Council to renew and strengthen the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen. 

10 Aug

The International Service for Human Rights welcomes today's appointment of Michelle Bachelet as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and urges her to make the protection and promotion of human rights defenders a top priority. 

24 Jul

Following a request by ISHR and ACAT France, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) is urging Morocco to end reprisals against a leading Sahrawi human rights defender who submitted a complaint to the CAT.

08 Jul
Photo of participants of HRDAP18

We look back at all that the 14 dedicated human rights defenders participating in our 2018 Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme (HRDAP) achieved during their packed time in Geneva.

06 Jul

ISHR has published a ‘scorecard’ for Iceland that is seeking election to the UN Human Rights Council for 2018-2019.

Preparatory Committee of the Durban Review Conference


On this page you will find reports on the Preparatory Committee of the Durban Review Conference. For more information on the Durban Review Conference can be found in the Human Rights Council section of this website.

Analytical Session Overviews


This page contains analytical overviews of the regular sessions of the Human Rights Council. The session overviews analyse the main trends from the session, implications of the key discussions and decisions, and next steps that NGOs should be aware of for their advocacy and action.

The reports are listed in reverse chronological order and can be downloaded in PDF format (Acrobat Reader needed):

Council Alerts


Before most sessions of the Human Rights Council, ISHR publishes a 'Council Alert' outlining the major issues expected to come up during the session. It also provides information on the organisational meetings held before each session. 

  • Council Alert 3rd session
  • Council Alert 5th session
  • Council Alert 6th session
  • Council Alert resumed 6th session
  • Council Alert 7th session (21 February 2008) and the update of 25 February (selection of troikas)
  • Council Alert 8th session
  • Council Alert 9th session
  • Council Alert 10th session
  • Council Alert 11th session
  • Council Alert 12th session

 Other alerts: 

  • Council Alert special session on Darfur (December 2006)
  • Council Alert Working Group on Rules of Procedure (during the institution-building)

Daily Updates


Please note that from the 10th session of the Council, our reporting is no longer daily. The reports that are now published to keep you updated on the debates at the Council are the Council Updates.

9th session of the Human Rights Council, 8 to 23 September 2008 

Week 1

Week 2                      

8 September 2008 15 September 2008                          

9 September 2008

16 September 2008

10 September 2008

17 September 2008
11 December 2008: holiday (no report) 18 September 2008
12 September 2008 19 September 2008

Week 3 


22 September 2008

23 September 2008

24 September 2008

Browse previous sessions

  • 8th session
  • 7th session
  • 6th session, 2nd part
  • 6th session, 1st part
  • 5th session  
  • 4th session
  • Resumed 2nd  and 3rd sessions
  • 2nd session, 1st part 


8th session


Week 1

2 June 2008 9 June 2008
3 June 2008 10 June 2008
4 June 2008 11 June 2008
5 June 2008 12 June 2008

6 June 2008

13 June 2008

Week 3

16 June 2008  
17 June 2008  
18 June 2008  
 > top


7th session


Week 1

Week 2 

3 March 2008 10 March 2008
4 March 2008 11 March 2008
5 March 2008 12 March 2008  
6 March 2008 13 March 2008
7 March 2008 14 March 2008

Week 3

Week 4 

17 March 2008 24 March 2008*
18 March 2008 25 March 2008
19 March 2008 26 March 2008
20 March 2008 27 March 2008
21 March 2008*      

28 March 2008 and

extension on 1 April 2008


* UN Holiday

>  top


6th session (2nd part)

10 December 2007
11 December 2007
12 December 2007
13 December 2007
14 December 2007
 >  top


6th session (1st part)

Week 1

Week 2 

Week 3 

10 September 2007 17 September 2007
24 September 2007
11 September 2007 18 September 2007 25 September 2007
12 September 2007 19 September 2007 26 September 2007
13 September 2007 20 September 2007 27 September 2007
14 September 2007 21 September 2007 28 September 2007
 > top


5th session

Week 1

Week 2

11 June 2007 18 June 2007
12 June 2007 19 June 2007 - organisational meeting
13 June 2007 18-20 June 2007 (summary)
14 June 2007
15 June 2007**


** This report summarises developments on 15 June and on Sunday 17 June



4th session

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

12 March 2007 19 March 2007 26 March 2007
13 March 2007 20 March 2007 27 March 2007
14 March 2007 21 March 2007 28 March 2007
15 March 2007 22 March 2007 29 March 2007
16 March 2007 23 March 2007 30 March 2007
>  top


Resumed 2nd session and 3rd session

Week 1

Week 2

27 November 2006 4 December 2006
28 November 2006 5 December 2006
29 November 2006 6 December 2006
30 November 2006 7 December 2006
1 December 2006 8 December 2006
 > top


2nd session (1st part)

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

18 September 2006 25 September 2006 2 October 2006
19 September 2006 26 September 2006 3 October 2006
20 September 2006 27 September 2006 4 October 2006
21 September 2006 28 September 2006 5 October 2006
22 September 2006 29 September 2006 6 October 2006
>  top

To receive the Daily Updates by e-mail 

Please write to us at with 'subscribe' in the subject line, and you will start receiving them every day, free of charge. You will also receive other key reports from the Council Monitor Publication on a regular basis.

Council Updates


Here you will find archival coverage from the 10th to 12th sessions of the Human Rights Council (the Council). Updates for more recent sessions can be found here.

You may also wish to subscribe to receive ISHR updates on the Council and other matters, according to your preferences, here.

Deadline: nominations for experts on Syria and Sudan


The nomination process for two special procedures mandates of the UN Human Rights Council will be closing shortly, and applications by qualified individuals are still being encouraged.

If you or anyone you know has a working knowledge of the Arabic language, combined with an expertise in the human rights situation in either Syria or the Sudan then please read on.

The first position (closing 12 January) is Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Syria, a new role established by Human Rights Council Resolution S-18/1 in December 2011.

The second position (closing 23 January) is that of Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan. The mandate was established in June 2009 by Human Rights Council Resolution 11/10. It is currently held by Mr Mohamed Chande Othman who has recently resigned from his position.  

Both positions are to commence in March 2012

A fuller description of the duties of the special procedures mandates and candidate eligibility criteria is available here. Applications can be sent by individuals, States, NGOs, and UN entities. Self-nomination by interested experts is also allowed. Application forms for both positions are available on the OHCHR website.

Please feel free to forward this information to anyone who you feel meets the criteria above.

UN releases ground-breaking report on sexual orientation and gender identity


Human rights organisations are welcoming the release of the first ever United Nations (UN) report on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Entitled 'Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity', the report documents widespread discrimination and violence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people around the world.

It highlights the duty of governments to implement their commitments and obligations under international law, by protecting the rights of all persons, regardless of their sexuality, gender identity or expression. The report also calls for decriminalisation of same-sex relations between consenting adults, and the granting of asylum to LGBT individuals at risk. It emphasises the importance of freedom of expression and assembly, and non-discrimination in accessing economic, social and cultural rights.

The mandate for the report was established at the 17th session of the Human Rights Council (the Council) (June 2011), by the UN's first ever resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution was led by South Africa and supported by a majority of the Council, including countries from all UN regions.

It requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare the report, which will be presented to the Council at its 19th session in March. It also called for a panel discussion to be held at the Council to address the findings of the study in a constructive and transparent manner, and to consider appropriate follow-up. This discussion is expected to take place on Wednesday 7 March, 2012.

The panel will be the first time the issue of human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity receives such focused attention by the Council. When the report is presented, it will be important that discussion is informed by the understanding that human rights standards are universally applicable, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

ISHR works to improve access to international and regional human rights systems by all human rights defenders, including those working on LGBT issues. A clear acceptance of the universality of human rights is a necessity for such access to be fully realised.

ISHR welcomes the progress made in 2011 at the UN on the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity, including the recent release of the High Commissioner's report. The report can be downloaded in English,Spanish, Russian and Arabic.

Historic decision: Council passes first-ever resolution on sexual orientation & gender identity


Joint NGO News Release 

(Geneva, June 17, 2011) In a groundbreaking achievement for upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a resolution on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity (L9/rev1).

The resolution,presented by South Africa along with Brasil and 39 additional co-sponsors from all regions of the world, was passed by a vote of 23 in favour, 19 against, and 3 abstentions.  A list of how States voted is below.

In its presentation to the Council, South Africa recalled the UDHR noting that “everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind” and Brasil called on the Council to “open the long closed doors of dialogue”.

Today’s resolution is the first UN resolution ever to bring specific focus to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and follows a joint statement on these issues delivered at the March session of the council. It affirms the universality of human rights, and notes concern about acts of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This commitment of the Human Rights Council sends an important signal of support to human rights defenders working on these issues, and recognises the legitimacy of their work.

“The South African government has now offered progressive leadership, after years of troubling and inconsistent positions on the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity. Simultaneously, the government has set a standard for themselves in international spaces. We look forward to contributing to and supporting sustained progressive leadership by this government and seeing the end of the violations we face daily”. (Dawn Cavanagh, Coalition of African Lesbians)

The resolution requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a study on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and calls for a panel discussion to be held at the Human Rights Council to discuss the findings of the study in a constructive and transparent manner, and to consider appropriate follow-up.

“That we are celebrating the passage of a UN resolution about human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation is remarkable, however the fact that gender identity is explicitly named truly makes this pivotal moment one to rejoice in,” added Justus Eisfeld, Co-Director of GATE.  “The Human Rights Council has taken a step forward in history by acknowledging that both sexual and gender non-conformity make lesbian, gay, trans* and bi people among those most vulnerable and indicated decisively that States have an obligation to protect us from violence.”

"As treaty bodies, UN special procedures, and national courts have repeatedly recognised, international human rights law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.” (Alli Jernow, International Commission of Jurists)

The resolution is consistent with other regional and national jurisprudence, and just this week, the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS recognised the need to address the human rights of men who have sex with men, and the Organization of American States adopted by consensus a resolution condemning violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Earlier in this 17th session of the Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, reported to the Council that: “[Contributory factors for risk of violence include individual aspects of women’s bodily attributes such as race, skin colour, intellectual and physical abilities, age, language skills and fluency, ethnic identity and sexual orientation.”

The report also detailed a number of violations committed against lesbian, bisexual and trans women, including cases of rape, attacks and murders.  It is therefore regrettable that a reference to "women who face sexuality-related violence" was removed from the final version of another resolution focused on the elimination of violence against women during the same session.  

"Despite this inconsistency, we trust the UN resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity will facilitate the integration of the full range of sexual rights throughout the work of the UN." (Meghan Doherty, Sexual Rights Initiative)

A powerful civil society statement was delivered at the end of the session, welcoming the resolution and affirming civil society’s commitment to continuing to engage with the United Nations with a view to ensuring that all persons are treated as free and equal in dignity and rights, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Now, our work is just beginning”, said Kim Vance of ARC International. “We look forward to the High Commissioner’s report and the plenary panel next March, as well as to further dialogue with, and support from, those States which did not yet feel able to support the resolution, but which share the concern of the international community at these systemic human rights abuses.” 

ARC International

Amnesty International

CAL – Coalition of African Lesbians

COC Nederland

Council for Global Equality

GATE - Global Action for Trans* Equality

Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights

Human Rights Watch

IDAHO - International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

IGLHRC - International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

ILGA- the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

International Campaign Stop Trans Pathologization STP 2012

International Commission of Jurists

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

Sexual Rights Initiative

Thailand's Sexual Diversity Network

Transgender Europe (TGEU)

Records of Vote and Co-Sponsorship

States supporting the resolution: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Thailand, UK, USA, Uruguay

States against the resolution: Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Moldova, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Uganda.

Abstentions: Burkina Faso, China, Zambia

Absent: Kyrgyzstan, Libya (suspended)

Co-Sponsors of the resolution: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania,  Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, and Uruguay.

Human Rights Council creates Special Rapporteur on Syria at special session on the ongoing crisis


On 2 December 2011, the Human Rights Council (the Council) held its 18th special session and third successive special session on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic. The special session had been requested by the European Union, with the support of 28 member states of the Council, to respond to  the report of the Commission of Inquiry (the Commission), which found that members of the Syrian military and security forces have committed ‘crimes against humanity’ in 2011.

The special session, supported by fellow Arab States Qatar, Kuwait, Libya, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, was also backed by 40 observer States. It concluded with the adoption of resolution A/HRC/S-18/L.1 entitled ‘the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic’. The resolution was adopted by majority, with 37 votes in favour, 4 against, and 6 abstentions. Of the Arab States, all voted in favour. The resolution, which condemns the increasingly grave human rights violations in Syria, includes the decision to establish the mandate of a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Syria. The mandate holder will be appointed at the March 2012 session of the Council, coinciding with the end of the mandate of the Commission.  The mandate holder is requested to monitor the implementation of the recommendations from the Commission and of the Council’s resolutions.

As expected, Syria expressed strong opposition during the session both to the findings in the Commission’s report and to the draft resolution. Its main point of concern was that the resolution was policitised and that it therefore breached both the UN Charter, particularly with respect to the goal of strengthening constructive dialogue and international cooperation, and the Council’s mandate to address situations non-selectively and objectively. Moreover, the text of the resolution was described as ‘not objective’ and as based on the same misjudgement and ignorance towards ongoing reforms in the country that the Commission had allegedly displayed in its report.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navanethem Pillay, along with most of the States on the speakers' list, showed dissatisfaction with Syria's lack of cooperation with the international community and expressed concern over the increasingly violent situation in Syria as well as the continuous violations of human rights, not only against protesters. Violence against children was one of the main areas of concern mentioned by many States. Additionally, sexual violence against detainees and enforced disappearance were repeatedly mentioned. Syria was asked to cooperate with the international community and with the League of Arab States and frequently criticised for its refusal to stop the violence. Many States emphasised the urgency of the matter referring to the findings of the Commission that many acts of violence amounted to 'crimes against humanity' (Romania, the Maldives, Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and the Netherlands). However, India stated that the Commission's report went beyond its mandate by using this description and by calling for referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Reference to 'crimes against humanity' was removed from the final draft of the resolution, and there is no call for referral to the ICC. This is despite those calls being reiterated by Ms Pillay and endorsed in a joint statement by special procedures, which was delivered through videolink, by Ms Farida Shaheed, Chair of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures.

Opposition to the resolution was voiced by a number of States for various reasons. Although the Russian Federation called upon Syria to end the violence, it agreed that the report was one-sided and strongly opposed any outside intervention in Syria. It also stated that the crisis was instigated from the outside and served foreign interests. China too expressed deep concern with the situation but believed that the resolution went too far and paved the way for intervention. Furthermore, the Chinese delegation insisted on peaceful political dialogue as the only way to solve the issue and warned of using human rights abuses as a pretext to undermine territorial integrity. Cuba’s main criticism was linked to the report and the alleged manipulations which led to the ‘fragmented and inaccurate’ conclusions of the Commission. It feared that further intervention would lead to an escalation of the situation and reiterated its confidence in the Syrian Government and people to solve the issues on their own. Finally, Ecuador urged all parties involved to find a peaceful solution but criticised the alleged selectivity tolerated by the international community (illustrated by the Council’s failure to take action on the situations of impunity in Iraq and Afghanistan). Its refusal to vote in favour of the resolution was based on its assumption that the resolution was a politicised attack on Syria and therefore a breach of the Council’s mandate of non-selectivity. The States which abstained from the vote were Angola, Bangladesh, Cameroon, India, the Philippines, and Uganda.

With the adoption of the resolution, a Special Rapporteur will be established. Earlier calls for the situation to be referred to the General Assembly and Security Council were replaced by a more vague recommendation that 'the main bodies of the UN' should urgently consider the report of the Commission and take appropriate action.

Human Rights Council to hold third successive special session on Syria


On 2 December 2011, the Human Rights Council (the Council) will hold its 18th special session on ‘The situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic in the light of the report of the Commission of Inquiry’. Despite two previous special sessions on the situation in Syria the violence has continued. , The request for the special session, submitted by the European Union (the EU), was signed by 28 member States of the Council, including fellow Arab States Qatar, Kuwait, Libya, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, and 40 observer States.

The call for this special session follows the release, on 28 November, of the report of the Commission of Inquiry (the Commission), which found that members of the Syrian military and security forces have committed ‘crimes against humanity’ in 2011. The Commission of Inquiry was set up through a resolution adopted by the Council at its 17th special session in August, to investigate all allegations of human rights violations committed by Syrian authorities. The Commission was to be dispatched to Syria but was refused permission to enter the country by the Syrian authorities. As a result, the Commission was not able to base its report on direct observation. However, it concluded that gross human rights violations amounting to crimes against humanity had indeed been committed by the Syrian military and police and called upon the Syrian Government to immediately stop the violence against protesters and to allow independent investigation into all allegations. In addition, it regretted that the Government had repeatedly refused to cooperate with the Commission.

At the time of submission of the request for the special session, the EU also submitted a draft resolution. Informal negotiations were held on 30 November to discuss the draft, and are continuing at present. As expected, there was strong opposition both to the calling of the special session and to the draft resolution, not only from Syria, but also from China, Cuba, and the Russian Federation. Opposition centred around the timing of the special session, which these States considered is premature, arguing that there has not yet been time to study the Commission’s report; and around the draft resolution, which was described as ‘biased’ and ‘aggressive’. Particular criticism was directed towards the resolution’s lack of condemnation of attacks by opposition groups, the perceived failure to balance the call to the Government to end the violence with a call to the opposition groups to do likewise,   and the omission of reference to the positive steps that Syria had been.  The Russian Federation added that the draft should explicitly rule out military intervention and include reference to principles of State sovereignty and integrity.

The special session will be held on 2 December from 10am in room XX of the Palais des Nations. ISHR will provide a report on its website. You can also follow the special session on Twitter.



By Nicolas Agostini, Representative to the United Nations, DefendDefenders 

The world’s top human rights body needs members with a genuine commitment to protecting human rights. Electing States should ensure that candidates with a record of systematically violating rights and failing to cooperate with the Council receive no support in the ballot.

Browse our articles:






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ISHR leads and coordinates the development of the Yogyakarta Principles on sexual orientation and gender identity, strengthening legal recognition and protection of LGBT rights worldwide


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Working with supportive states and NGOs, ISHR advocacy leads to adoption of historic Human Rights Council resolution calling on all States to review and amend national laws to respect and protect the work of human rights defenders