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18 March 2021, 14:00-15:30


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Lessons Learned from the Commission for the HRC Status Review

Human Rights Conversations

Kofi Annan at a session of the UN Human Rights Commission Kofi Annan at a session of the UN Human Rights Commission

Virtual Side Event to the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

At this side event, John Pace, Secretary of the former United Nations (UN) Commission on Human Rights will present his recent OUP book The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, a Very Great Enterprise, which provides a detailed account of the work of the Commission to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), from 1946 to 2019.

Starting from this input, panelists will discuss the lessons learned from the Commission that are useful in terms of the HRC functioning, including for the 2021–2026 status review by the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

One issue in this review is the proposal to reconstitute the Council from a UNGA body to a Charter body in which all States (contrary to the current 47) participate equally. Panelists will discuss whether is it time to move to a Charter body or else to enhance the connectivity between the HRC and UN treaty bodies (TBs). They will also address how the results of the HRC own efficiency process weigh in on those questions.

In a more immediate manner, panelists will also look at the functioning of the Universal Periodic Review – the next cycle will start in 2022 and while this mechanism surely was a great achievement in the HRC creation, it might be time to evaluate how to enhance its impact and use, for example by strengthening the links to the independent expertise provided by UN Special Rapporteurs and the TB system.


  • Felix Kirchmeier, Executive Director, Geneva Human Rights Platform


  • John Pace, Secretary of the former Commission on Human Rights, Coordinator of the Vienna Conference on Human Rights and author of ‘The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, a Very Great Enterprise’
  • Ambassador Yvette Stevens, Former Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the UN in Geneva and Chair/Rapporteur, UN HRC Experts' Group on Prevention (2019–2020)
  • Ambassador Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN in Geneva and president of the Human Rights Council in 2020
  • Eric Tistounet, Chief, Human Rights Council Branch, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Adrien-Claude Zoller, President, Geneva for Human Rights


Lessons Learned from the Commission for the HRC Status Review

At this online side event, John Pace, Secretary of the former UN Commission on Human Rights presented his recent book, which provides a detailed account of the work of the Commission to the UN Human Rights Council.

Human Rights Conversations

Human Rights Conversations are a series of events, hosted by the Geneva Human Rights Platform, aimed at discussing contemporary issues and challenges related to the promotion and protection of human rights in Geneva and beyond.


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