24 January - 2 February 2018
Application start 12 May 2017
Application end 23 January 2018
Fee: 1150 Swiss Francs


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Leading in the UN Human Rights Council

25th Session of the Human Rights Council, 25 March 2014 25th Session of the Human Rights Council, 25 March 2014

Skills for Personal Effectiveness

Preparing for intense and high-level engagement during the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) requires a deep understanding of HRC 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 short 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.


The course is structured around three main themes:

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

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

Leadership in the HRC

  • Leading through a negotiation and lobbying techniques
  • Chairing formal and informal multilateral meetings
  • Navigating unexpected and spontaneous opportunities
  • Optional pre-session reading materials are made available two weeks prior to the training, for background, context and introduction of key concepts


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


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.


This course forms part of the Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict. It is designed for professionals who already have some experience with the HRC: diplomats and experts from diplomatic missions and foreign ministries; staff from international and regional organizations working in the field of human rights; employees of governmental and non-governmental organizations, journalists or representatives of National Human Rights Institutions.


  • Wednesday 24 January 2018, 15:30-19:15
  • Thursday 25 January 2018, 15:30-17:30
  • Friday 26 January 2018, 13:15-15:15
  • Thursday 1 February 2018, 15:30-20:00
  • Friday 2 February 2018, 13:15-15:15


Participants obtain a certificate at the end of the course (no ECTS credits are gained).


Participants can request on-campus accommodation via the online application form. Due to the limited places available, accommodation is not guaranteed. Participants seeking on-campus accommodation are encouraged to request it as soon as possible.

How to Apply

Applications for this short course must be submitted via the online form. If you encounter problems with your application, do not hesitate to contact us.

Your application will need to include:

  • A short motivation letter (no more than one page)
  • Your curriculum vitae
  • Proof of your competence in English (a certificate or statement highlighting your solid background in English)
  • A valid copy of your visa or residence permit (only applicants who require a visa to enter the Schengen area)

Once admitted to the course, participants receive instructions on how to pay. Proof of payment is required before you begin the course.

Professors and Lecturers

Picture of Thomas Unger

Thomas Unger

Researcher and Co-Director of the Master in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Thomas Unger has more than 15 year of expertise in the field of transitional justice, notably as the former Senior Adviser to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

Picture of Kamelia Kemileva

Kamelia Kemileva

Executive Manager

Kamelia Kemileva is Executive Manager of the Geneva Academy and Co-Coordinator of the Treaty Body Review 2020. She is also a visiting programme director at Wilton Park.

Picture of Sophie Huber

Sophie Huber

Director of the Continuing Education and e-Learning Centre at the University of Geneva

Picture of Marc Limon

Marc Limon

Executive Director, Universal Rights Group (URG)

Picture of Christan Strohal

Christian Strohal

Ambassador, Former President of the UN Human Rights Council

Picture of Roland Chauville

Roland Chauville

Executive Director, UPR Info


Villa Moynier 120B Rue de Lausanne Geneva


Public Transport

Tram 15, Direction Nations - tram stop Butini

Bus 1 or 25, Direction Jardin Botanique - bus stop Sécheron

Access for people with disabilities

Villa Moynier is accessible to people with disabilities. If you have a disability or any additional needs and require assistance in order to participate fully, please email


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