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Ireland at the Human Rights Council (HRC)

Ireland has been an active participant at the Human Rights Council (HRC) since its establishment and was elected a member of the HRC for the 3-year term of 2013-2015.

The Permanent Mission actively engages at the HRC by way of national statements on issues of concern as well as negotiation of resolutions on thematic issues and on the situation of human rights in individual States.

In our work at the HRC, Ireland has focused on key priorities including the human rights situation in individual States; creating and maintaining space for civil society; gender equality; violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; the rights of the child; Human Rights Defenders; and the fundamental freedoms of expression, opinion, religion or belief.

National initiatives

Ireland leads on two initiatives at the HRC, one on the promotion and protection of civil society space and the other on preventable morbidity and mortality of children under five.

Recent years have seen a disturbing trend in many countries where space for civil society is being reduced by legal, administrative and other restrictions. To address this emerging trend, in 2013 and 2014, Ireland led the drafting and negotiations on two resolutions on civil society space, in a cross-regional group together with Chile, Japan, Sierra Leone and Tunisia.  These resolutions focused on the need for States to create and maintain, in law and practice, a safe and enabling environment for civil society. The 2014 resolution requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a compilation of practical recommendations for the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society, based on good practices and lessons learned.  This report is due to be presented to the Council in June 2016, after which Ireland will again take the matter forward.

Reinforced by the belief that human rights and development are mutually reinforcing, Ireland has also presented resolutions on preventable morbidity and mortality of children under five in 2013 and 2014, leading a cross-regional group consisting of Austria, Botswana, Mongolia and Uruguay.  While huge improvements have been secured in the last decade to child mortality rates, 6.3 million children under the age of five die each year, mainly from preventable and treatable causes. These resolutions focused on how the Council can act in elaborating a human rights based approach to this issue and support the engagement of the human rights community in efforts to strengthen accountability for children’s health. As a result, technical guidance was elaborated by OHCHR in consultation with the World Health Organization, grounded in human rights principles, to help governments and other actors to design policies and programmes to reduce and eliminate under-five mortality.  This was successfully endorsed by the Council in 2014.