The 35th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) started in Geneva on Tuesday this week and will continue through the 23rd. At the June session, there’s normally a greater focus on women’s rights in the HRC debates and outcomes (see further).

The session was opened with a powerful statement by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which called for an end of the half-century long occupation of the Palestinian territory stressing that “the sine qua non for peace – the end of the occupation – must now be brought about, and soon”. In condemning “in the strongest of terms the cowardly and sickening attacks perpetrated against innocent people by callous terrorists operating in many parts of the world” he reminded that “counter-terrorism must be prosecuted intelligently: that is, while preserving the human rights of all.” He then focused on the refusal by several UN Member States to grant access to his Office or UN human rights mechanisms, and reminded HRC members of their particular responsibility to cooperate with UN human rights bodies.


As usual, WILPF is participating in the HRC session. We will monitor some of the debates and attend some side events and negotiations of resolutions. We will focus our advocacy activities on the gendered impacts of: arms transfers, corporate abuse, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, austerity measures in Ukraine, and the armed conflict in Syria.


On the first day of the session, we made a statement in the interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. We plan, among others, statements on Syria and Ukraine. We have submitted a written statement on Ukraine and issued a blog post welcoming two reports to HRC35 that remind states that human rights matter in arms trade.

Side events

We are co-organising side events on “Women challenging corporate power” (Friday, 9 June 1.30-3pm, room XXVII, Palais des Nations), and on:

Violence against Women: The Case of Palestinian Women under Occupation” (Friday, 14 June 1-2PM, room XXVII).

For an overview of WILPF activities at the previous HRC session, click here

#HRC35 | What to expect at the session?

Some of the HRC35 reports, debates and resolutions relevant to gender, women, peace and security are the following:

UN Special Procedures

Reports of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, including on her missions to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory; Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (theme: a gender-sensitive approach to arbitrary killings); Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (this is his first report); Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, including on his mission to Saudi Arabia.

Reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

OHCHR reports on: Impact of arms transfers on the enjoyment of human rights; Impact of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls (strong focus on the situation of poverty, ethnicity and migration status); Expert workshop to address child early and forced marriage; Realisation of the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl; Ways to bridge the gender digital divide from a human rights perspective.

Click here for the full list of reports.

Panel debates

Among other panels, there will be the annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women, whose two themes will be engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against women girls, and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with a special focus on health and gender equality (Tuesday, 13 June); and the panel discussion on unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents and human rights (9 June).


These are some of the resolutions that are being negotiated at this session. The HRC will take action on them on the last two days of the session.

Violence against women (main sponsor: Canada; focus: engaging men and boys in preventing violence against women); Child and forced marriage (Sierra Leone, Netherlands, Argentina, Canada, Ethiopia, Honduras, Italy, Maldives, Montenegro, Poland, Switzerland, Uruguay, United Kingdom, Zambia; focus: humanitarian settings); Girls’ right to education (UAE); Protection of the family (Bangladesh, Belarus, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, El Salvador, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia; focus: elderly persons); Elimination of discrimination against women (main sponsors: Colombia and Mexico); right to education (main sponsor: Portugal); protection of human rights while countering terrorism (main sponsor: Mexico); right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (Main sponsor: Brazil); Trafficking in persons, especially women and children (Germany, Philippines).

For more information about this session, see Sexual Rights Initiative “What to expect at HRC35” and the ISHR preview of key issues at HRC35;

Stay up-to-date: Follow @WILPF and #HRC35 on Twitter. Watch the HRC debates on the HRC webcast