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…power imbalances and structural inequality between men and women are among the root causes of violence against women, and… effective prevention of violence against women and girls requires action at all levels of government, the engagement of civil society, the involvement of men and boys and the adoption and implementation of multifaceted and comprehensive approaches that promote gender equality and empowerment of women, and integrate awareness, education, training, political will, legislation, accountability, targeted policies and programmes, specific measures to reduce vulnerability, data collection and analysis, monitoring and evaluation, and protection, support and redress for victims.

Human Rights Council, Resolution 14/12 (2010)

The Human Rights Council was created by the General Assembly on 15 March 2006 to replace the former Commission on Human Rights (Resolution 60/251).

The Human Rights Council (the ‘Council’) is an inter-governmental body responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural, including the right to development. It consists of 47 member states elected by, and operating under, the General Assembly (GA) for three-year terms.

How does it help tackle violence against women?

Since its creation, the Council has adopted numerous resolutions to promote the elimination of violence against women and has adopted annual resolutions under the theme of ‘Accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women’. The Council’s work on violence against women is informed by multiple sources. However, among some of the more influential reports are those produced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and those prepared by special procedure mandate holders (independent experts). Thematic reports by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children have been particularly influential.

For example, HRC Resolution 29/14 (2015) on eliminating all forms of VAW addresses domestic violence and calls on states to take effective action to prevent domestic violence by adopting legislation to prohibit such violence; exercising due diligence to prevent, investigate and penalise domestic violence; taking action to protect victims; and addressing the structural and underlying causes of domestic violence. The text of the resolution draws from the reports of Special Rapporteur on VAW (HRC Resolution 29/27); the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice (HRC Resolution 29/40); and on the panel discussion on domestic violence held by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights during the annual discussion on women’s rights as mandated under HRC Resolution 6/30.

Note: the Human Rights Council is a different body than the Human Rights Committee – which is the treaty body responsible for overseeing states’ implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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iconStarCivil Society Engagement: Accreditation and Individual Complaints

There are two methods for civil society organisations to engage with the Human Rights Council on tackling violence against women:

1. Accreditation

CSOs interested in bringing issues of VAW to the attention of the Council must have consultative status under ECOSOC. With consultative status, CSOs can:

  • Attend and observe all proceedings of the Council, with the exception of the Council deliberations under the Complaints Procedure (see below)
  • Submit written statements to the Council
  • Make oral interventions to the Council
  • Participate in debates, interactive dialogues, panel discussions and informal meetings
  • Organise “parallel events” on issues relevant to the work of the Council

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2. Individual Complaints

The Council has established a complaint procedure, designed “to address consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested violations of all human rights and all fundamental freedoms occurring in any part of the world and under any circumstances” (Resolution 5/1).

The complaint procedure is kept confidential (in an effort to enhance state co-operation) and accepts communications from individuals, groups, or non-governmental organisations that claim to be victims of human rights violations or that have direct, reliable knowledge of such violations. There are, however, a few requirements for submitting a communication to the Council. Some of these include:

  • The exhaustion of domestic remedies, unless there is evidence to suggest existing State remedies would be ineffective or unreasonably prolonged
  • It provides a factual description of the alleged human rights violations, including which rights have allegedly been violated
  • It is not exclusively based on reports disseminated by mass media It does not refer to a case that appears to reveal a consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights already being reviewed by:
    • Other United Nations bodies or procedures
    • Similar regional complaints procedures

If a complaint appears to reveal a consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested human rights violations, it is transferred to a Working Group (of Situations). This Working Group then reviews the complaint and presents a report to the Council, making recommendations on how the Council should proceed.
Want more? A complaint procedure form and the contact information for the HRC is published at the bottom of this page. Otherwise, you can find more details on the complaints procedure on the Human Rights Council’s website



Contact Information

Complaint procedure form

Complaint Procedure Unit
Human Rights Council Branch
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: (41 22) 917 90 11
E-mail: CP@ohchr.org

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