Created in 2006 by resolution 60/251, the United Nations Human Rights Council is a body within the United Nations system responsible for the strengthening and promotion of human rights around the world. The council seeks to address specific human rights violations as well as making recommendations to member states on human rights in general. The council consists of 47 Member States which are elected by UN General Assembly. The HRC was established to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights with a more effective mandate. The UNHRC sits in Geneva, Switzerland.
Topics of 2018
A: Humanitarian Visas
The use of a humanitarian visa scheme was recently proposed as a possible means of implementing of the principle of non-refoulement. The principle of non-refoulement is one of the most important considerations with regards to refugee matters. It dictates that a State shall not return refugees or asylum seekers back to their country if they are likely to face severe persecution and danger based on their religion, nationality, gender, race or membership of a particular social group. In certain instances, asylum seekers fail to satisfy the criteria to qualify, however their safety would likely be jeopardized if returned to their States. It is in light of these cases that member States are called upon to discuss the possible advantages and disadvantages of the incorporation of humanitarian visas as a means of tackling the question of non-refoulement.
b: Freedom of Speech and Privacy in the Digital Age
With the advancements in technology and the greatest expansion of access to information and communication in history, international human rights law remains relevant and applicable. In particular the provisions relating to the right to freedom of expression and privacy have become more important than ever. Both States and private actors have the power to cripple freedom of expression and violate privacy online through new technology. This raises questions on the rights and responsibilities of public authorities and private actors. The UNHRC needs to examine its position regarding this matter and consider what stance should be taken by the international community in order to maintain adherence to the universal human rights of freedom of speech and privacy.