Statement by Norway 30.11.06
Human Rights Council. Agenda and Methods of Work
In the debate today on the agenda, as in the debates we had on the framework for a programme of work for the first year of the Human Rights Council, many delegations underlined the necessity to strike a balance between predictability to allow all relevant stakeholders to be able to prepare and participate, and flexibility, so that the Council can at any moment effectively deal with relevant issues and situations.
Contrary to the Commission on Human Rights that met once a year, the Human Rights Council will hold at least three sessions every year, of which one should be the main session. Thus, it will be necessary to combine as we have for the first year of the Council both an agenda that might be simple and generic and a programme of work for each of the sessions. While a sufficient level of flexibility should be retained through the agenda, the programme of work should provide predictability.
The first year of the Council is a transitional year. The programme of work should therefore evidently not set a precedent for the subsequent years. However, there are in our view certain lessons that can be drawn from the experience so far and that could give some directions for the future. In particular, we view that three core elements should be included in each of the future sessions of the Council:
First, an update by the High Commissioner followed by an inter-active dialogue. The experience we have had to date in this regard is very encouraging, including the most interesting debates we had with the High Commissioner yesterday.
Second, a consideration at each session of a number of reports of the special procedures to be organised in an orderly manner. We very much valued the quality of the inter-active debates at the Second session of the Council that constituted good precedents both with regard to time management providing for one hour for each mandate holder, as well as with regard to the participation of all relevant stakeholders in the dialogues, including NGOs. The special procedures have a central role to play in the Council. To quote the Secretary-General message to the Human Rights Council yesterday, they are “the crown jewel of the system”. The special procedures should be systematically integrated into the work of the Council, including through participation in debates on specific issues.
Third, the possibility to take up at every session what we now call “other issues” regarding protection and promotion of human rights. This includes both the possibility at each session to consider proposed decisions as well as general statements on issues of priority to delegation. This would allow the Council to respond adequately to priority issues both thematic and country-specific.
On the issue of methods of work, we would like to express our appreciation to the Asian group for their proposal that we consider constitutes a very good basis. Let me highlight in particular the emphasis given to openness, transparency and inclusiveness in all aspects of the work of the Human Rights Council allowing the active contribution and participation of all stakeholders.