About Us


GDH Experts Seminar on International Humanitarian Law (Sept 2010 and June 2011)


The 70th Anniversary of the United Nations (UN) was celebrated last year. In the field of development and human rights, landmark agreements in the framework of the UN marked 2015. A first momentous event took place with the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3), held on 13-16 July in Addis Ababa, as Governments adopted a new global framework for financing sustainable development.

On 25 September, the General Assembly adopted the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) launched in 2000 are now to be followed by the 2030 Agenda, ‘an agenda for people, to end poverty in all its forms – an agenda for the planet, our common home’ (Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN News, 25 September 2015) , which is composed of 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years. These global goals constitute a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.

And, on 14 December 2015, the so-called COP-21 Conference adopted the ‘Paris Agreement on climate change’, by which the international community rose to the challenge and took steps to curb emission and boost climate-resilient growth.

In Geneva, 2015 was also a fruitful year for the Human Rights Council, with an excellent President, Ambassador Joachim Rücker (Germany), who encouraged the 47 member States to adopt innovative steps, including a Panel to discuss the situation in a country, a lower number of Panels and of resolutions, and a voluntary calendar for thematic resolutions. At the beginning of his term, the President announced three priorities: to improve the efficiency, the effectiveness of the HR-Council and its relations with New York.

Thus, several informal meetings were convened with the High Commissioner, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in-between the ordinary sessions, and the HR-Council held Special meetings with the President of Palestine and of Venezuela.

At the request of the European Union, on the first day of the 29th session (15 June), the HR-Council held an enhanced interactive dialogue (EID) on the human rights of migrants. This new work format should allow the HR-Council to respond in a timely and substantive manner to important global human rights concerns.

At the same time, with the support of the Bureau, the President pursued a sustained and unprecedented action to oppose any reprisals against civil society organisations and defenders participating in the work of the HR-Council. Last but not least, more attention was paid in the deliberations on the follow-up, the implementation in the field.

In 2015, the HR-Council extended all the Special procedures which had to be renewed. It created two new procedures, on the right to privacy and on the rights of persons with albinism, established a forum on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and recommended that the Secretary-General establish a Forum on People of African Descent. In 2015, the HR-Council also held two Special Sessions, respectively on the crimes committed by Boko Haram (1 April), and on preventing ‘further deterioration of the human rights situation’ in Burundi (17 December).

However, at the same time, 2015 marked worsening crises around the world, especially the civil wars in Syria and Iraq, and the unprecedented refugee flows it caused, the most dramatic outflow in Europe since WWII. With massive human rights abuses and conflicts in Libya, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea, millions displaced persons totally depend on humanitarian assistance, which no longer can meet the needs. With desperate attempts to keep the power, widespread corruption, exacerbated inter-ethnic tensions and lack of political will by the regional and world powers, the number of victims is likely to increase. Not to speak of the millions of climate refugees who will soon have to join the mass of forcibly displaced.

2015 was also a year of horror. The terrorist attacks in Paris, in January and November, will be remembered. Extremism and terrorism affected many other societies, in Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Indonesia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Denmark, Belgium, the USA. These crimes change the perception of security and social harmony, and challenged the basic values of democracies. It is critical to counter the threats posed by these groups, in particular Da’esh, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, but it has to be done in the respect of the Rule of Law. A major risk is to gradually demonize and scapegoat people on the basis of their religion, ethnicity or country of origin.

Unfortunately, the gap between international (UN) agreements, decisions and values, and these realities is still increasing. Preventing should be prioritized. However, in the UN human rights institutions, States decide. In the HR-Council, the hardliner States do not attend to promote human rights, but to avoid scrutiny. Thus, Burundi succeeded to be elected in the HR-Council: it has a vote to oppose decisions which a large group of States would like to take to prevent further massacres.

January 2016

Adrien-Claude Zoller, President



Through training, study and protection, GHR aims to bridge the gap between international standards and realities and to empower all those involved in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Our Global Training Department conducts each year dozens of Courses and Seminars in Geneva and in the regions.

All GHR training activities are designed to contribute to Human Rights implementation in the countries. Moreover GHR has specific country programs.

Our Department of Human Rights Policy Studies monitors UN human rights meetings. It studies the main trends in the multilateral negotiations, and constitutes a basic support to our training activities. The department also convenes regularly experts seminars on priority issues for Human Rights defenders from the Regions.


GHR conducts Geneva Courses at each session of the Human Rights Council, and In-Country Courses in-between the Council’s sessions (on the proceedings and procedures of the Council and on implementation strategies in the countries).

Since December 2008, GHR also conduct training courses and briefings during each session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review.

In-Country and In-Region Courses regularly take place in the field. They are prepared together with partner organizations, and focus on the mandates, proceedings and developments in the Council and its mechanisms, the special procedures, the UPR, the Treaty Bodies, and the strategies. These Courses address the specific local, national and regional situations.


GHR has also a specific program to contribute to the realisation of human rights inside countries. Entitled ‘Strengthening national empowerment to facilitate the implementation of human rights at national level’, this programme’s main objective is, through training, mediation, advisory services and teaching strategies, to contribute to the national implementation process.


The Department HPS constitutes the hard core of GHR activities. It is an indispensable support to our training programs. It monitors international human rights negotiations and covers U.N. human rights meetings; it analyses the main trends and developments and quickly inform our trainers and our main partners in the field.


To sensitize actors at the HR-Council on such issues, GHR has convened many Experts Seminars in Geneva: on Caste Discrimination (during the Durban Review Conference, April 2009), International Humanitarian Law (Sept 2010 and June 2011), Trends in the HR-Council (March 2011), Transitional Justice (Sept 2011), Minorities (Nov 2011), Enforced Disappearances (Nov 2012 and Nov 2013), Religious Freedom (Dec 2012), Human Rights and Business (June 2013) and the 20th anniversary of the World Conference (June 2013).