Human Rights Council
The Human Rights Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251, to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights. It is an inter-governmental body within the UN system, based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. It is made up of 47 UN Member States, which are elected by the UN General Assembly for a three (3) year term. Botswana is currently a member of the Human Rights Council.
To guide its work, the Council created special procedures and mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which is responsible for assessing the human rights situations in all UN Member States; the Advisory Committee, which serves as the Council’s “think tank” providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues; the Complaint Procedure, which allows individuals and organizations to bring human rights violations to the attention of the Council; as well as Special Procedures, which the Council inherited from the former Commission on Human Rights, and are made up of special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts and working groups that monitor, examine, advise and publicly report on thematic issues or human rights situations in specific countries. These special procedures and mechanisms are clearly spelt-out in the Council’s institution-building package, which the Council adopted at its first Session in June 2006.
The Human Rights Council meets in three (3) regular sessions a year, which take place in March (four weeks), June (three weeks) and September (three weeks). At the request of one third of its 47 Member States, the Council may also decide, at any time, to hold a special session to address urgent human rights violations and emergencies.Both the Member States of the Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights can bring up issues for discussion at the Council. Accredited Non-Governmental Organisations can also participate in discussions of the Council.
Botswana’s Membership to the Human Rights Council
Botswana was a member of the former Commission on Human Rights from 1988 to 1990 and from 1998 to 2000. It was elected to the Human Rights Council for the term commencing June 2011 to December 2014. This was the first time Botswana became a member of the Council since its creation in 2006. Members of the Council serve for a period of three (3) years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms. Membership is based on equitable geographic distribution of seats among the five (5) regions of the United Nations. Seats are distributed as follows:
1. African States: 13 seats2. Asia-Pacific States: 13 seats3. Latin American and Caribbean States: 8 seats4. Western European States and other States: 7 seats5. Eastern European States: 6 seats Current members of the Human Rights CouncilBotswana considers her membership to the Council as a significant step in her quest to demonstrate her commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights at the national and international levels.
During her membership, Botswana has supported and continues to support many initiatives aimed at protecting and promoting the rights of human rights defenders, accountability for human rights violations, women’s rights, children’s rights, racism and racial discrimination, self determination, country specific cases, civil and political freedoms and rights.
… on Syria at the Council
In November 2011, Botswana joined many other members of the Council to call for a Special Session on the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria. That led to the holding of the 18th Special Session of the Council on the Human Rights Situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, on 2 December 2011.
The Council adopted a resolution on the Human Rights Situation in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Following the massacre that took place in the town of El-Houleh, Syria, on 25th and 26th May 2012, which left around 108 people dead, mostly women and children, and hundreds others seriously wounded, Botswana worked with many other Council members to call for another special session of the Council on Syria. As a result, the Council held its 19th Special Session on 1st June 2012, to discuss the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria, with specific focusse on the El-Houleh massacre.
The Council adopted a resolution entitled “The deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the recent killings in El-Houleh”.
In February 2012, Botswana and other countries took advantage of the High Level segment to call for an Urgent Debate on the human rights situation in Syria. Hon. Minister Dikgakgamatso N. Seretse participated in the Urgent Debate. Statement by Minister Seretse during the Ugernt Debate on the human rights sitution in Syria at the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council, in Geneva, Switzerland, on 27 February 2012.Minister Seretse also made a Statement during the High Level Segment of the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council.
Statement by Ambassador Palai during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on Torture and on Human Rights Defenders, at the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council, held in Geneva from 27 February to 23 March 2012
Botswana Statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic during the 20th Session of the Human Rights Council, in June 2012.
Botswana Statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic at the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council, in September 2012.
Statement by Ambassador Palai during the Urgent Debate on the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria, and the recent killings in Al Qusayr, at the 23rd Session of the Human Rights Council, in June 2013.
Statement by Ambassador Palai during the Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria at the 23rd Session of the Human Rights Council, in June 2013.
Statement by Botswana during the Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria at the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council, in September 2013.