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Czechia in the UN Human Rights Council


The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) is the main UN body dealing with the state of human rights in the world. HRC monitors human rights in UN member states, speaks out against their violations, supports activities aimed at documenting and preventing such violations, responds to human rights crisis in the world, participates in the development of international human rights law and serves as a forum for dialogue on issues of support, protection and development of human rights.

The Human Rights Council (HRC) was formally created by a resolution of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) approved on March 15, 2006. The HRC consists of 47 member states that elect the UNGA for a three-year term. Therefore, a part of the HRC membership changes every year.

The Council holds regular and special meetings for at least 10 weeks a year. Regular meetings are held three times a year: in March for 4 weeks incl. segment at a high level, in June and September for 3 weeks. A special session usually responds to a crisis situation in a particular country. The consent of one third of the members (i.e. 16 states) is necessary for its convening.

The main form of accepted texts are HRC resolutions, which can be thematic (e.g. on women's rights, civil society, education, racism or climate change) or geographical (e.g. on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Venezuela, Belarus or Ethiopia). However, the HRC is also the first approval authority for the texts of newly drafted human rights conventions or declarations.

An important form of HRC activity are the so-called Special Procedures, which are, for example, special rapporteurs, independent experts or working groups. Mandates of Special Procedures are divided into thematic and territorial, relating to a specific country or territory. The mandate of the Special Procedures (according to the given resolution) usually includes visits to countries, negotiations on cases of human rights violations or reporting on their status. Representatives of Special Procedures present their findings and findings during HRC meetings in interactive dialogues with states and civil society.

An important mechanism of the HRC is also the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which is an intergovernmental procedure examining the state of human rights in UN member states. The UPR was established by the UN General Assembly in 2006. Each member country is subject to a broad human rights review by other member states on average once every four to five years. Through the UPR, countries that do not normally appear at HRC meetings for various reasons, but whose human rights situation would deserve this increased attention, will also repeatedly come into the center of attention. The last review of the human rights situation in the Czech Republic took place in January 2023.

Czech Membership and Activities in the HRC

The policy of active promotion of the principles of democracy, protection and development of human rights and the rule of law is one of the cornerstones of Czech foreign policy. The Czech Republic has promoted and continues to promote these principles in this international arena for a long time.

The Czech Republic was a HRC member until the end of 2023. In May 2022, it had been elected a member of the Council to fill the position vacated by the Russian Federation in connection with Russian aggression against Ukraine. In 2023 Czechia was also chairing the Council for the first time in its history. The 3 priorities of the Czech presidency were: progress in efficiency, early prevention of human rights violations and broad participation of relevant stakeholders.

The last membership of Czechia in the HRC was already its fourth. It was a HRC member in 2019-2021, 2011-2014 (Czechia was one of the 4 vice-presidents) and 2006-2007. The re-election of the Czech Republic to the Council testifies of the importance of human rights in the Czech foreign policy, as well as of the perception of the country as capable of contributing to the protection of human rights on the global stage. Czechia is strongly committed to a continued support of this policy also in the future. The country has already announced its candidacy to the Council for the term 2025-2027 with elections taking place in autumn 2024 in the UN General Assembly in New York.

The long-term thematic priorities of the Czech Republic in the field of human rights are:

- the support of international human rights mechanisms and the systematic consideration of human rights (so-called mainstreaming),

- the support of civil society, including human rights defenders,

- the support of freedom of expression and access to information, including the freedom of the media,

- the support of equal and broad political and public participation,

- the support of institution building regarding the rule of law,

- the support of equality and non-discrimination,

- and the support of human rights in topics related to employment and the environment.

At the Council meetings in 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2021, Czechia presented (together with Botswana, Indonesia, Peru and the Netherlands) proposals for a resolution on equal political and public participation, which were adopted by consensus and supported by a large number of states.

In 2019 and 2022, in cooperation with other states (namely Indonesia, Lithuania, Maldives, Mexico and the US), it successfully presented a resolution on the right to freedom of assembly and association.

Current information on the activities of the RLP and Czech activities in the Council can be found on the website of the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the United Nations in Geneva.