New York, 26 October 2015
To: Member States candidates to the UN Human Rights Council
Cc: Member States of the UN General Assembly
Open Letter to candidates to the Human Rights Council
We are a diverse group of non-governmental organisations from all parts of the world working at national, regional and international levels who have contributed to the Human Rights Council (the Council) and its work since its establishment. We write to you regarding your candidacy for membership of the Council in 2016.
In establishing the Council in 2006, the General Assembly provided that Council members “shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and “fully cooperate with the Council” (GA Resolution 60/251).
We are concerned about the clear failure of some candidate countries to fully comply with these criteria. Failure by Council members to take effective measures to address violations of human rights for which they are responsible, particularly of a gross or systematic nature, or to fully cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms undermines the ability of the Council to promote and protect human rights and to demand full state cooperation with its mechanisms. While this letter focuses on three important requirements that help measure candidates’ suitability as a Human Rights Council member, a more detailed assessment of each candidate’s record in the promotion and protection of human rights and cooperation with the Human Rights Council must be made on a case-by-case basis by members of the General Assembly before they cast their votes.1 This should also include consideration of the level of ratification of core international human rights treaties.
We are also concerned at the failure of some candidates to respect and enable the important role played by civil society, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organisations and human rights defenders in the promotion and protection of human rights at the national and international levels, including in the Council (Article 38 of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, GA Resolution 60/251 and the Human Rights Council’s Institution Building Package).