18 Sep

Governments should support the work of human rights defenders, not undermine it. Yet in Burundi, the situation of human rights defenders remains alarming and still deserves the Human Rights Council’s full attention. In Burundi, defenders are systematically criminalised in a deliberate and continuous attempt to silence civil society voices.

19 Sep

Last week in New York and Geneva, nine candidate States publically spoke to their pledges as an incoming Human Rights Council member for 2019 – 2021, they also faced questions on pressing human rights issues.

19 Sep

ISHR is pleased to launch its updated Reprisals Handbook in six languages, an essential resource for all stakeholders concerned about intimidation and reprisals against those cooperating with international or regional human rights systems.

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18 Sep

Despite Chinese denials, the internment of Uyghur and Kazakh minorities in Xinjiang has been put firmly in the Human Rights Council spotlight, with statements from governments and NGOs, including ISHR, calling urgently for the closure of internment centres and the release of those detained. 

18 Sep

Without effective democratic institutions and no brake on impunity, the criminalisation of dissent in Venezuela deepens.  Describing this glaring human rights crisis, human rights defenders make an urgent call to UN experts  to keep demanding access to the country and accountability from the State.            

Second World Conference on Human Rights

ISHR facilitates global civil society engagement with the Second World Conference on Human Rights, which leads to the strengthening of women’s rights, the affirmation of universal rights, the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and the establishment of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Sessions of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee


A report on the 5th session, 2 - 6 August, 2010

A report on the 4th session, 25 - 29 January, 2010

A report on the 3rd session, 3 - 7 August, 2009

Analytical overviews earlier sessions are available here.

Human Rights Council: 9th session


Latest news 

The Human Rights Council (the Council) will hold its 9th session from 8 to 23 September 2008. The programme of work for the session is available here. Read our Council Alert on the 9th session.

Every day during the Council session, check our Daily Updates and sign up to receive them by e-mail. To see all our reports on the Human Rights Council, see the Council Monitor.


The Human Rights Council (the Council) was established on 19 June 2006 to replace the Commission on Human Rights (the Commission) by General Assembly Resolution 60/251. The establishment of the Council was accompanied by high rhetoric that promised, or at least looked to, a new era in the United Nation's (UN) human rights work. There was much talk of new beginnings, new starts, new chances. The truth, however, was that no one believed it was going to be easy to effect real change. The Council was conceived in the context of the destruction of its predecessor  and politically charged debates in the General Assembly between those States wanting a Council with no real teeth and those that argued for a body that was more effective than the Commission.

The Council is the main body of the United Nations dealing with human rights, and is mandated, among other things, to:

  • Promote universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind
  • Address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon
  • Undertake a universal periodic review (UPR), based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfilment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States

Resolution 60/251 also mandated the Council to review the mechanisms and mandates it has inherited from the former Commission. This process of review, the so-called 'institution-building' has come to a an end with the adoption of Human Right Council Resolution 5/1 (also called 'the institution-building package') on 18 June 2008. For more information on the Council's mechanisms, please use the menu on the left. 

After a year and a half, an initial assessment can be made: the Council is neither as good as it needs to be nor as bad as it could be. Indeed it is proving to be significantly better than many defenders and activists had feared, though it still has a long way to go before it can be said to be an effective protector and promoter of human rights.

Further reading

  • ISHR together with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung has produced a Handbook on issues of transition from the Commission to the Council. Even though it was published prior to the institution-building phase, it provides an overview of the issues involved. Downlaod the English version / Version française
  • ISHR's Human Rights Monitor reviews the international human rights system, including the Council, on an annual basis. It is available in English, and is disponible en français
  • During sessions of the Council, ISHR publishes a Daily Update, summarising the most important developments of the day. After each session, we also produce an analytical overview of the main debates and decisions. Please see the Publications section
  • Other analytical texts on the Council's first two years include:

The Human Rights Monitor and Other Monitors


ISHR produced and distributed the annual Human Rights Monitor to human rights defenders from 1988 to 2009.  The publication was replaced in 2010 by the Human Rights Monitor Quarterly.

The new Human Rights Monitor Quarterly also replaces the following analytical reports:

You can read previous edition of the annual Human Rights Monitor here.


Please contact if you have any questions about the use, reproduction or distribution of ISHR publications.

New York Monitor


This page includes reports and updates on what is happening within the United Nations (UN) in New York.

Reports on the following UN bodies' meetings are available:

For further information on these different human rights bodies and what they do, please visit Other UN Bodies.

To receive the New York Monitor reports

Please write to  with 'New York Monitor' in the subject line. You will start receiving our analytical reports and alerts on the bodies listed above, free of charge.

Security Council


Latest articles and developments

Please visit ISHR's main webpage on the Security Council for the latest articles and developments.  

In 2010 ISHR introduced a new periodic publication called Human Rights Monitor Quarterly. Here we will report on and analyse the latest developments at the Security Council from a human rights perspective. Sometimes this will be in the form of a dedicated article, other times it will be in the form of text box updates in related articles, such an article on the latest session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. In this way, ISHR intends to 'link up' the various UN organs that have a responsibility to protect and promote human rights. In so doing,  we will point out where there are gaps and lost opportunities, as well as openings for civil society advocacy, and achievements to be celebrated.

Archived reports from ISHR

  • For an analytical overview of what happened in 2009 at the Security Council in terms of human rights, please check the chapter dedicated to this theme in the Human Right Monitor 2009
  • For an analytical overview of what happened in 2008 and previous years at the Security Council in terms of human rights, please check previous editions of the Human Rights Monitor

For monthly forecasts, update reports, studies, and more information on the Security Council, visit the Security Council Report (an NGO dedicated to reporting on the work of the Council).

Previous Editions of the Human Rights Monitor

On this page you can find the Human Rights Monitor editions for 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Please note that prior editions of the Human Rights Monitor are not available online but you may contact to find out how to obtain hard copies from the 2004 edition backwards.

Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)


Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Reports


In this section you will find:

Further information on the UPR

  • More information on what the UPR is, how it works, and how NGOs can engage is available on this website's UPR page
  • Also check UPR-Info - the first website entirely dedicated to the UPR process providing detailed explanations of the mechanism, reports from States, NGOs and the OHCHR, summaries of every country's review, and final outcomes and recommendations
  • UPR-Info has recently developed an Issues Analysis in the form of tables that show what issue was raised by which State, and on what State under review

To receive ISHR's UPR Monitor reports by e-mail

Please write to us at with 'UPR Monitor' in the subject line, and you will start receiving our reports shortly after each session, free of charge.

UPR Analytical Overviews


This page displays the analytical overviews ISHR has put together regarding the UPR sessions so far:

  • Analytical overview of the UPR in 2008 (1st - 3rd sessions and Council adoption) 
  • Analytical overview of the UPR, April-June 2008 (1st and 2nd sessions)

  • Analytical overview of the 1st session, 7-18 April 2008 

Individual reports on the review of countries at the UPR's sessions can be found under browse by country or browse by session.

More information on what the UPR is, how it works, and how NGOs can engage is available on this our UPR page.



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:






ISHR commences work to develop an international Declaration on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders


ISHR publishes first Human Rights Monitor, connecting human rights defenders on the ground with international human rights systems and developments


ISHR facilitates global civil society engagement with the Second World Conference on Human Rights, which leads to the strengthening of women’s rights, the affirmation of universal rights, the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and the establishment of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights


ISHR provides training, technical assistance and support to its 1000th human rights defender


After 14 years of ISHR lobbying, advocacy and negotiation, the UN General Assembly adopts the landmark Declaration on Human Rights Defenders


UN Secretary-General appoints Hina Jilani as inaugural UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, strengthening protection of human rights advocates at risk worldwide.


ISHR leads a successful campaign for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights


ISHR co-founds and supports a range of international and regional human rights coalitions, including the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and the West African Human Rights Defenders Network


ISHR contributes to the establishment and institution building of a new global peak body for human rights issues, the UN Human Rights Council


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


ISHR’s sustained advocacy on the issue of reprisals and intimidation faced by human rights defenders leads to adoption of landmark UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning and strengthening protections against reprisals


Working with key NGO partners such as Amnesty International, ISHR leads civil society efforts to strengthen UN human rights treaty bodies, prevent their weakening and better connect their work with victims and human rights defenders on the ground


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