Highlights from the 42nd Human Rights Council Session

News 14.10.2019

From 9 September to 27 September, Right Livelihood participated in the forty-second session of the Human Rights Council. The session saw the presentation of a  number of thematic reports on topics such as Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-recurrence, Indigenous Peoples, Arbitrary Detention, and Cooperation with the UN, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights.

The Council also took into consideration various countries of concern, including Myanmar, Venezuela, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review of the Democratic Republic of Congo, 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 three-week session:

Detention of Saudi Activists
On 13 September, Right Livelihood delivered a statement during the interactive dialogue with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, calling on the Council to draw its attention to the detention of Saudi activists including Laureates Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammed al-Qahtani and Waleed Abulkhair.

Mozn Hassan’s Travel Ban and Impending Trial
The Foundation delivered a second statement on 13 September echoing the concerns of Nazra and called on Egypt to lift the unfair and prolonged travel ban imposed on Laureate Mozn Hassan since June 2016, as well as the unfair freezing of her assets. Ms. Hassan has filed a request to judiciary authorities to lift the 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 the session has been postponed twice, the next trial date set for 17 November. As Egypt heads into its Universal Periodic Review session in 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. 

Impunity and Corruption in Guatemala
During the presentation of the Secretary-General’s report on reprisals on 19 September, Right Livelihood delivered its third statement in response to the shutdown of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) by President Jimmy Morales. The Foundation urging the Council to closely and continuously monitor and protect human rights defenders and former staff of CICIG in Guatemala, including Laureates Helen Mack and Iván Velázquez respectively.

Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
Following the submission of a joint shadow report on sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo to the CEDAW Committee in July, Right Livelihood and partners Dr. Mukwege Foundation, the Lutheran World Federation, the Panzi Foundation, and the Survivor movement in DRC delivered a joint statement during the UPR adoption of the DRC on 19 September. They collectively called for crucial institutional reform and strengthened efforts in prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence crimes that are taking place within the state.

Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
On 19 September, the Foundation co-sponsored an event parallel to the Council on the practices of enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and executions in Saudi Arabia, and the roles they play in broader efforts to suppress legitimate calls for reform. In addition to a video statement from Dr Agnès Callamard (Special Rapporteur summary executions), speakers at the event included: Tyler Pry (ADHRB), Yahya Assiri (ALQST), Inés Osman (MENA Rights Group), Ali Adubisi (ESOHR), and Areej al-Sadhan (sister of Abdulrahman, a victim of enforced disappearance in Saudi Arabia).

SDG Goal 16: Democracy and Justice
Right Livelihood co-hosted an event on 23 September by Laureate Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC) on the development of inclusive institutions by way of undeniable access to justice, and in upholding respect for democracy and the rule of law. Speakers at the event included: Ambassador Ji-ah Paik (Republic of Korea Mission to UNOG), Anghkana Neelapaijit (former Commissioner, National Human Rights Commission of Thailand), Fernando Basil (ALRC), Lee Kwangsu (May 18 Memorial Foundation), Sanjeewa Liyanage (IBJ), and Susan Wilding (CIVICUS).


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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