Right Livelihood Foundation in cooperation with Article 19 presenting a side event at the 41st Human Rights Council

Highlights from the 41st Human Rights Council Session

News 15.07.2019

From 24 June to 12 July 2019, Right Livelihood participated in the forty-first session of the Human Rights Council. The session saw the presentation of a number of thematic reports on topics such as Summary Executions, Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Peaceful Assembly, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

The Council also considered various countries of concern, including the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Nicaragua, and the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review of Afghanistan, amongst others. The Foundation took the opportunity to highlight the exemplary work of its Laureates, and to draw attention to the risks and obstacles they face due to an increasingly restrictive environment for civil society around the world.

Here are some highlights from the 41st session:

Human Right Centre Memorial attended the Human Right Council Session

Tatiana and Glushkova and Sergei Davidis, from Human Rights Centre Memorial, visited Geneva to attend the 41st session of the Human Rights Council. During their stay, they spoke with different UN Special Rapporteurs, including the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur on Peaceful Assembly and Association, Clément Voule, the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Nils Melzer and the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz. They also met with a number of state delegations and discussed political prisoners and LGBTI rights, freedom of opinion and expression, and the overall situation of human rights in Russia. On 1 July, during the 41st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Foundation delivered an oral statement in partnership with Human Rights Centre Memorial which called on the Council to draw its attention to Russia’s continuous refusal to abide by its international obligations.

Mozn Hassan’s Travel Ban was brought to the attention  of the Human Rights Council

On the 3 July, the Right Livelihood Foundation voiced Nazra’s concerns and called on Egypt to immediately lift the unfair and prolonged travel ban imposed on Mozn Hassan since June 2016. Ms Mozn Hassan has filed a request to judiciary authorities to lift the unfair and punitive travel ban imposed on her. On 20 June, a judge from South Cairo Circuit was set to look at the request to lift the travel ban but postponed it to a session on 14 September. As Egypt heads into its Universal Periodic Review session next November, WHRDs, HRDs, and activists in case 173/2011, known as the foreign funding case, still face travel bans that are not only unfairly depriving them of their freedom of movement, but also preventing them from carrying out their duties as human rights defenders.

Right Livelihood Foundation in cooperation with Article 19 presenting a side event at the 41st Human Rights Council
Right Livelihood Foundation in cooperation with Article 19 presenting a side event at the 41st Human Rights Council

Responding To Threats To Journalists

The Foundation co-sponsored an event on what recent attacks on journalists have taught us about gaps in prevention, protection and prosecution, and how to enhance the UN’s response to impunity. Speakers also focused on the specific situation of freedom of opinion and expression in Saudi Arabia.

This event coincided with Dr Agnès Callamard’s presentation of her report into the killing of  Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Speakers at the side event included: Dr Agnès Callamard (UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial summary or arbitrary Executions), David Kaye (UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression), Pieter Omtzigt (Council of Europe), Rob Mahoney (CPJ), and Yahia Al Assiri (ALQST).

Human Rights Violations In Saudi Arabia

The Foundation joined 40 organisations calling on the Council to adopt a resolution to address ongoing human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. The request followed the joint statement signed by 36 states during the previous 40th session of the Council, calling for the release of detained human rights defenders.

The letter urged the government to initiate Council action by requesting the Saudi government to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release the detained women human rights defenders and all individuals detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms, drop all charges against them including those provisionally released, and remove travel bans against their family members;
  • Conduct prompt, effective and credible investigations into all allegations of torture, hold perpetrators accountable and provide victims with an effective remedy in line with international standards;
  • Immediately abolish the male guardianship system and repeal other laws that discriminate against women and girls;
  • Establish an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty with an aim towards its abolition;
  • Ensure that the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association are fully respected in law and practice in accordance with international human rights standards.

Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Dr Sima Samar, Head of Afghanistan’s Human Rights Commission,  addressed the Human Rights Council through a video statement during the adoption of Afghanistan’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).


The United Nations Human Rights Council gathers three times a year in Geneva to discuss human rights situations around the world. For further information about the work of the Council, please visit the OHCHR website.

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