Extracurricular Course

General view of the room XX and delegates during of the High Level Segment of the 31st Session at the Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland, February 29, 2016 General view of the room XX and delegates during of the High Level Segment of the 31st Session at the Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland, February 29, 2016

Participants enrolled in the Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict have the opportunity to participate in an extracurricular course (no ECTS credits) on the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC). This course is also open to external participants.

Entitled ‘Optimizing the Human Rights Council: At the Interplay Between Law and Politics’ it focuses on the functioning and the mechanisms of the UN HRC, as well as on the dynamics at play in this major human rights body.

An interactive way of teaching empowers participants – both those who already know the HRC from inside and those who are not familiar with this multilateral world of negotiations and politics – to better understand the HRC.

Skills for Personal Effectiveness

Preparing for intense and high-level engagement during the HRC requires a deep understanding of its rules, functioning and practice. The ability to negotiate, advocate, lobby and push for issues in such a complex environment also requires a sound knowledge of the different actors and dynamics at play, as well as strong communication skills.

This course, ahead of the main HRC session, allows participants to develop their network and acquire the necessary skills to lead and perform effectively in this major forum for human rights diplomacy. It also allows them to grasp the main issues and challenges at stake.

Programme

The programme follows a strong logic of sequence and ends up with a huge Q&A session, led by a special guest. It is structured around four main themes:

1. The Functioning of the HRC

  • The functioning, rules and practice of HRC
  • The various HRC mechanisms (e.g. special sessions, commissions of inquiry, special procedures, universal periodical review)
  • The dynamics at play
  • The role and influence of individuals
  • The role, functions and influence of other actors: who does what? How does this play out in concrete terms?
  • The role of ‘satellite’ factors, such as unexpected political situations or external pressures

2. The Phenomenon of Working within and Across ‘Groupings’

  • HRC regional groups and their dynamics
  • Coalitions
  • Serving in one or more groupings
  • Tensions between bilateral/multilateral policies and HRC diplomacy, and the challenges of ensuring cohesion between these
  • Best practices and tools for juggling a complex agenda

3. Leadership in the HRC

  • Who leads what and when?
  • Is there a place for a personal leadership or group dynamics takes it all?
  • What role states, NGOs and representatives of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights play?

4. The HRC Positioning in the Overall UN Architecture

  • What position does the HRC occupy in the organigram of UN political bodies such as the General Assembly and Security Council?
  • What are the pros and cons of this position?

Optional pre-session reading materials, including links to key Geneva Academy's events on the HRC, are made available two weeks prior to the training, for background, context and introduction of key concepts.

Benefits

This course allows participants to acquire:

  • A deeper understanding of the functioning, rules and practice of the HRC
  • Key leadership skills in human rights negotiations, advocacy and lobbying
  • First-hand insights into HRC dynamics, in an informal and non-partisan environment
  • Enhanced knowledge of the various actors intervening in the HRC and its different mechanisms (e.g. special sessions, commissions of inquiry, special procedures, universal periodical review)

Lecturers

Lecturers include Geneva Academy experts, renowned academic scholars, as well as senior professionals from international organizations, NGOs and governments.

Methodology

The course is composed of interactive lessons, using case studies of real situations in the HRC from the last three sessions. These help participants to acquire the required knowledge, take part in discussion forums and engage with practical examples and case studies. The various sessions are designed to address cross-cutting issues and build participant skills through simulation exercises, small group breakouts and role-playing.

Throughout the course, participants interact with their peers, key HRC actors, as well as academics and experienced practitioners.

 

Schedule for the 2018–2019 Academic Year

  • Wednesday 23 January 2019, 15:30 – 21:00
  • Thursday 24 January 2019, 15:30 – 17:30
  • Friday 25 January 2019, 13:15 – 15:15
  • Wednesday 30 January 2019, 15:30 – 17:30
  • Thursday 31 January 2019, 15:30 – 17:30
  • Friday 1 February 2019, 13:15 – 15:15