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Press Release

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold its thirty-eighth regular session from 18 June to 6 July 2018 in the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will open the session at 9 a.m. on Monday, 18 June, when he will update the Council on the situation of human rights worldwide and on the activities of his Office. This will be High Commissioner Zeid’s last session of the Human Rights Council before his mandate ends in August 2018.

During the three-week session, the Council will examine over 100 reports on a wide range of issues presented by 24 human rights experts and groups, including the report on return and reintegration of migrants by the Special Rapporteur on human rights of migrants; the report on the critical role of judicial councils in ensuring judicial independence by the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; the report on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by the Independent Expert on that subject; and the report on the impact of the International Monetary Fund on social protection by the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

The Council will hear, for the first time, from the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy, the Council’s newest mandate created at the thirty-fifth session in June 2017. It will also hold interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteurs on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, on the right to freedom of expression, on summary or arbitrary executions, on the right to health, on the right to education, on racism and racial discrimination, and on trafficking in persons. In addition, it will hear from the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations, and the Forum on Business and Human Rights.

The Council will discuss, inter alia, the human rights situation in Syria with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, which will comprehensively report on the situation in Eastern Ghouta, as requested by the Council during the urgent debate held on 5 March 2018. On Myanmar, the Council will hear the High Commissioner’s update on the situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities, and an update by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar. The Council will address the situation in Burundi during the discussion with the Commission of Inquiry, and will hear an oral briefing by the High Commissioner on the mission of his Office to Burundi in order to support the country in improving accountability and combatting impunity. Furthermore, the Council will examine the situations of human rights in Belarus and Eritrea during interactive dialogues with the respective mandate-holders.

The Council will also hear from a number of dignitaries during the session. On 18 June, there will be an address from Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, and Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of Qatar. These addresses will take place right after the High Commissioner’s update. On 20 June, the President of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, will address the Council, and later in the session, on 26 June, Karin Kneissl, Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria, will address the Council.

Gender equality and violence and discrimination against women and will be among the many issues featuring strongly at the thirty-eighth session. The Council will hear from the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; discuss the High Commissioner’s report on engaging men and boys in achieving gender equality as a way to eliminate violence against women; and hold its annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women which will focus on digital spaces and access to information and communication technologies.

The Council will commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement by holding a panel discussion on the human rights of internally displaced persons, and by discussing the progress achieved in its implementation with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons.

Other highlights of the session will include the High Commissioner’s oral update on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and a presentation of the findings of the team of international experts on the situation in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; an annual discussion on technical cooperation which will focus on enhancing capacity-building and cooperation to contribute to the effective and inclusive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and an oral update by the Independent Expert on the situation in the Central African Republic. Following the presentation of reports by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and his Office, the Council will discuss technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights in Haiti, Ukraine, Burundi and Georgia.

Final outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review for France, Tonga, Romania, Mali, Botswana, Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Lichtenstein and Serbia will be discussed and adopted.

The Council will hold nine general debates during the session: the general debate on the High Commissioner’s oral update will start on 19 June, and the general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights on 25 June. On 27 June, the Council will hold two general debates, on human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, and on human rights bodies and mechanisms. The general debate on the Universal Periodic Review will start on 29 June and conclude on 2 July, when the Council will also hold general debates on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, on follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and on racism and racial discrimination. The general debate on technical assistance and capacity-building will be held on 4 and 5 July.

The Council will take action on decisions and resolutions on 5 and 6 July before concluding the session.

The President of the Council will appoint the following independent expert mandate holders: Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment; Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; two members of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, respectively from African States and Eastern European States; and a member of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, from Western European and other States.

The detailed agenda of the session can be found here, further information on the thirty-eighth session here, and the reports to be presented are available here.

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system, made up of 47 States which are responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006 with the main purpose of addressing situations of human rights violations and making recommendations on them.

The composition of the Human Rights Council at its thirty-eighth session is as follows: Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America and Venezuela.

The President of the Human Rights Council in 2018 is Vojislav Šuc, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations Office at Geneva. The Council’s four Vice Presidents are Cristóbal González-Aller Jurado of Spain, François Xavier Ngarambé of Rwanda, Evan P. Garcia of the Philippines, and Juan Eduardo Eguiguren of Chile.

For further information and media requests, please contact Rolando Gómez (+ 41 22 917 9711 /, Cédric Sapey (+ 41 22 917 9751 / or Rachel Rivera (+ 41 22 917 9689 /

For use of the information media; not an official record