Event information

26 February 2021, 15:30-17:00


Flyer >

The US’ Return to the UN Human Rights Council

Human Rights Conversations

Human Rights Council Special Session on Cote D'Ivoire, Dec. 23, 2010 Human Rights Council Special Session on Cote D'Ivoire, Dec. 23, 2010

Join us online for our first Human Rights Conversation of the year to discuss what the United States’ return to the UN Human Rights Council means for the work of the Council and the overall promotion and protection of human rights.

On 8 February, United States (US) Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced that the US will ‘reengage immediately and robustly with the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council’, stating that ‘it is our view that the best way to improve the Council is to engage with it and its members in a principled fashion. We strongly believe that when the US engages constructively with the Council, in concert with our allies and friends, positive change is within reach’.

What does this return of the US as an observer to the Human Rights Council (HCR) mean for the work of the Council and the overall promotion and protection of human rights?

Back in 2018, we discussed the legal implications of the US’s withdrawal of the Council. Now, at a time when the global crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions are making strong stands on human rights even more necessary, we want to turn to the political and institutional questions about its re-engagement.

This panel discussion will look into the priorities of the US in the HRC, see what their re-engagement could mean for a number of substantive initiatives and resolutions, and the institutional importance of this reengagement, including the implications for the political weight of the UN’s main human rights organ. The discussion will also touch upon the impact that the US participation might have on the 2021-2026 HRC review process, to be undertaken by the UN General Assembly. With no country currently formally abstaining from the HRC, panelists will also discuss whether this is a moment to strengthen the understanding of, and agreement on the universality of human rights.


  • Felix Kirchmeier, Executive Director, Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP)


  • Mark Cassayre, Chargé d’Affairs, US Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva
  • Sarah Cleveland, Professor, Columbia University and member of the GHRP Advisory Board
  • Jürg Lauber, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN in Geneva

About the Human Rights Conversations

Human Rights Conversations are a series of events, hosted by the Geneva Human Rights Platform, aimed at discussing contemporary issues and challenges related to the promotion and protection of human rights in Geneva and beyond.


View of the conference room News

Annual Conference Underlines the Importance of Strong National Human Rights Systems

21 October 2021

With over 500 registered participants in Geneva and online and 24 partners, the conference focused on the capacity of domestic actors to mutually engage with each other and liaise with Geneva-based international human rights bodies in the context of implementation, monitoring and follow-up to UN human rights recommendations.

Read more

Olivier de Frouville, Chairperson of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance, addresses the 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council. Wednesday 6 March 2013 News

Professor de Frouville Joins the Geneva Human Rights Platform Advisory Board

21 October 2021

Olivier de Frouville, Professor of Public Law at the University of Paris 2 and Director of the Paris Human Rights Center, joined the Geneva Human Rights Platform Advisory Board.

Read more

Vote Event

GHRP Friday: Nominations, Elections and Membership

3 December 2021, 14:30-16:00

This GHRP Friday will focus on good practices and potential modalities to be introduced globally in the nomination and election process for new UN treaty body members.

Read more

Traditional dresses Event

Minority Issues and Universality

1 December 2021, 10:00-11:30

In this Human Rights Conversation, panelists will reflect on the principle of universality of human rights – and associated challenges – in specific relation to the advancement of minority issues at the UN.

Read more

Session of a UN Treaty Body Project

Treaty Bodies Individual Communications Procedures

Started in January 2019

Read more

Session of the UN Human Rights Committee Project

Treaty Body Review 2020 and Beyond

Started in January 2018

The Geneva Human Rights Platform contributes to this review process by providing expert input via different avenues, by facilitating dialogue on the review among various stakeholders, as well as by accompanying the development of a follow-up resolution to 68/268 in New York and in Geneva.

Read more

cover of the publication Publication

Promoting Quality Independent and Diverse Treaty Body Membership

published on November 2021

Claire Callejon

Read more

Cover Page of the publication Publication

The Work of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances

published on August 2021

Maria Clara Galvis Patiño

Read more