Committees

Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a regular United Nations body whose mission is to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. The UNHRC investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states and addresses important thematic human rights issues such as: freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights and the right of racial and ethnic minorities. It basically has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. The UNHRC meets at the UN Office at Geneva and is made of 47 member states, which are elected by the majority of members of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Member States: Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, China, Croatia, Cuba, Czechia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay.

First Topic: Fighting Contemporary Forms of Slavery

Slavery did not end with abolition in the 19th century. The practice still continues today in one form or another in almost every country in the world and impacts across every level of society. More than 45 million people are living in modern slavery, with Asia accounting for two thirds of the victims. This is roughly equivalent to the population of Spain!
The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are 21 million victims of forced labour globally. 19 million of whom are exploited by criminals, and over 2 million by the State or several rebel groups. More than 20% of them are sexually exploited. Victims of sex trafficking include an estimated 1.8 million children. In Africa and the Middle East, children make up the majority of victims. In Europe and Central Asia they are outnumbered by adults, mainly women. Forces labour in the private economy generates 150 billion USD in illegal profits per year. That is more than the GDP of most African countries! Domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment are among the sectors most concerned.
Slavery takes different forms, from forced prostitution and labour to debt bondage. The common denominator is poverty. Victims are in need and thus vulnerable; they don’t know their rights. In some countries, people are still born into slavery.

Second Topic: Fighting Contemporary Forms of Slavery

Slavery did not end with abolition in the 19th century. The practice still continues today in one form or another in almost every country in the world and impacts across every level of society. More than 45 million people are living in modern slavery, with Asia accounting for two thirds of the victims. This is roughly equivalent to the population of Spain!
The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are 21 million victims of forced labour globally. 19 million of whom are exploited by criminals, and over 2 million by the State or several rebel groups. More than 20% of them are sexually exploited. Victims of sex trafficking include an estimated 1.8 million children. In Africa and the Middle East, children make up the majority of victims. In Europe and Central Asia they are outnumbered by adults, mainly women. Forces labour in the private economy generates 150 billion USD in illegal profits per year. That is more than the GDP of most African countries! Domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment are among the sectors most concerned.
Slavery takes different forms, from forced prostitution and labour to debt bondage. The common denominator is poverty. Victims are in need and thus vulnerable; they don’t know their rights. In some countries, people are still born into slavery.

UN High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR)

The Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, which was established in 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly, is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It also strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or resettle in a third country. Overall, in more than six decades, the agency has helped tens of millions of people to restart their lives.

First Topic: Strengthening the Capacity of Refugee Resettlement Countries

When neither return nor integration into host societies is a viable solution, resettlement of refugees to third countries is an alternative. According to the UNHCR, ‘resettlement is the transfer of refugees from an asylum country to another State that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grant them permanent settlement’.
The number of countries admitting refugees via resettlement has traditionally been small and the places provided largely insufficient compared to identified needs. According to its mandate, the UNHCR is in charge of identifying refugees in need of resettlement; once this has been done, it assists those who have been accepted for making the shift. The annual number of resettled refugees is only around 1% of the total number of refugees in the world. Refugees identified as being in need of resettlement are usually those in dangerous and vulnerable situations, who have particular problems that cannot be addressed in their host country.
The resettlement quotas provided by participating countries are lower than the number of persons proposed by the UNHCR for resettlement (in 2017, 75000 places were provided compared with an estimated 170000 needed). In 2017, there was also a 54% drop in resettlement places year on year, owing mainly to the fact that the US, which is the main recipient, significantly reduced its admissions of resettled refugees.

Second Topic: Strengthening the International Cooperation on the Integration of Refugees

Recent large-scale flows of refugees and migrants have brought to the world’s attention more forcefully than ever the plight of persons who are forced to flee their homes because of war, insecurity or persecution. They have also exposed how ill-prepared the international community has been to deal with this challenge and how uneven the distribution of the burden of caring for such people has been among countries.
In 2016, to enhance preparedness for refugee crises, improve the situation of refugees and relieve the burden on host societies, the United Nations (UN) member states convened in New York and adopted a declaration paving the way for a non-binding international compact on refugees. They annexed to this declaration a comprehensive refugee response framework that spelled out a series of short- and long-term measures to address refugee crises. The framework has been applied in several pilor countries and the lessons learnt fed into a global compact on refugees. The compact was drafted by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) following broad consultations with various stakeholders, and its definitive version was adopted by the UN General Assembly with a large majority on 17 December 2018.
The global compact focuses on international-, regional- and national level mechanisms for achieving a fairer distribution of the responsibilities related to refugees, and on areas where action can be improved. It has been criticised, among other things, for its non-binding character and for excluding victims of natural disasters from its scope.