Albania in the HRC

When founded Human Rights Council

In the framework of a substantial reform in the United Nations (UN) system and in particular, in human rights area, the High Level Panel on "Threats, Challenges and Change" recommended the creation of the Council for Human Rights (here and after HRC) with a smaller membership, limited to countries with high standards of human rights, with the ability to meet throughout the year. On the basis of this proposal, the UN Resolution 60/251 was adopted in the Parliamentary Assembly (PA) in order to dissolve the Commission and to create the Council of Human Rights. HRC started its activities in June 2006, converted into the main organ of the United Nations for addressing issues of human rights. The basic principles for the future work of the HRC are set on June 18-the, 2007, and include the addition of new provisions and the revision of existing ones, such as:

  • Universal Periodic Review (UPR);
  • Special Procedures;
  • Advisory Committee on Human Rights;
  • Complaints Procedure.

HRC membership is renewed every year and consists of 47 countries, elected by the PA of UN for a three year mandate, in accordance to the provision for each regional grouping:

Regional Group

African Group

Asian & Pacific Group

Group of Eastern Europe

Latin & Caribbean Group

Group of Western Europe & Rest

Number of Seats

13

13

6

8

7

 

Albania's membership to the Council for Human Rights

In October 2009, Albania officially declared its candidacy for membership in the HRC for the period 2015-2017. In the elections which took place in the UN General Assembly in New York on October 21st, 2014, Albania was elected for the first time a member of the HRC, with 176 votes. Albania is serving in the HRC for a three-year period, 1 January 2015 - 31 December 2017. During the three years of HRC membership, Albania followed some of the priorities such as: combating the phenomenon associated with violent extremism and promoting tolerance and peaceful coexistence among communities; children's rights; the fight against domestic violence in women and gender equality and social support; non-discrimination; the abolition of the death penalty; strengthening the mandate of OHCHR; support for UPR universality; promotion of new democracies; the promotion of good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

The year 2017 was the last year of Albania's membership as a member of the Human Rights Council. During these years, Albania has played an active role in Council decision-making, not only with regard to the substance of HRC work related to the presentation or support of resolutions during Council sessions, but also for important issues related to the improvement of the way the HRC functions. Albania has held several important positions in the HRC mechanisms by representing our regional group of Eastern European countries actively throughout the three years of HRC membership. In 2015 the Ambassador of Albania in Geneva was elected Vice-President to represent our regional group at the HRC bureau.

This position has significantly increased the presence of the Albanian delegation in the HRC's work, qualifying our country to run a large number of HRC sessions and Universal Periodic Review sessions (UPR) meetings. In 2016 Albania was elected to the Consultative Group, a body of special importance in the selection of special procedural mandate holders approved by the HRC, creating the opportunity to be engaged in the important process of electing mandate holders. In 2017 it was elected to the Working Group of Situations, a body that addresses complaints of individuals or groups of individuals for human rights violations, which has also created a communication and influence opportunity in immediate impact decision making concrete issues in dealing with serious violations of human rights.

During these three years, the implementation of the proposals initiated by the Albanian delegation regarding the increased effectiveness of the HRC's work has been followed with priority, starting with proposals to improve time management through online registration of country declarations member and taking the floor in interactive debates. It is important to emphasize the continued demand of the Albanian delegation to avoid double standards and the implementation of transparent procedures, especially in the sponsorship of resolutions to respect the sovereignty and national policies of each country, as well as the provision of opportunities to countries that are not present at the Permanent Mission in Geneva and in the Council to express their views on their political positions.

All the initiatives regarding the reform and effectiveness of the work of the Council have been the basis of a one-day forum discussion, on December 1, 2017, organized by NGO "Universal Rights Group" in cooperation with the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The summary document of the discussions of this forum, which will include the proposals of the Albanian delegation, will be the basis for the drafting of a resolution in 2018 which will improve the HRC method of work in the future.

Albania has participated in the core group and has been the initiator of several important HRC resolutions, namely:

  • "Contribution of the Human Rights Council to the Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem 2016";
  • “OHCHR Mission to Improve Human Rights, Accountability, Capacity and Capacity in South Sudan”;
  • “Human Rights and the Fight to Prevent Violent Extremism”;
  • “Human Rights Situation in South Sudan”;
  • “Extreme Poverty and Human Rights”.

Albania's contribution during the negotiation process of various resolutions has been an added value to the proposed documents, expressing position and proposing linguistic changes. This commitment has been a maximally valued help from our partners. Interventions in national quality have been substantial and are combined with our support of "joint statements" by groups of states, thus creating an active participation and constant presence of our delegation in the plenary hall.

Albania is clearly positioned as a progressive country with predominantly Muslim populations that are recognized rightly about religious coexistence and the protection of the freedom of religion as well as the protection of equal universal rights guaranteed to every individual without discrimination. As a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Albania showed that it is possible to have peaceful coexistence between religion and respect for human rights throughout their dimension.

A valued role is related to issues of violence and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Our delegation has been active in the adopting the 32/2 Council Resolution on Creating a Special Mandate for Independent Expert on Violence and Discrimination based on SOGI and alongside the European Union and the United States. Our positions on this issue are an obvious sign of political integration in the EU and added value to our cultural identity and religious diversity gives the Union. This is also expressed through the accession of Albania in 2017 to the "Equal Rights Coalition" and "Core Group LGBT" at the UN General Assembly.

Close relations have been held with our strategic partners, the European Union, the United States and the Islamic Cooperation Organization. Since 2015, Albania and the United States have been the initiators of two statements against extreme violence, and have had several joint initiatives on topics specific to countries, as in the case of South Sudan resolutions (3 resolutions). Also in December 2016, our country and the US have been the initiators for organizing a special Session on South Sudan. Also a close co-operation has resulted in themes for freedom of expression and thought and the bilateral initiative for electronic sponsorship of HRC resolutions.

Albania has joined with EU declarations, with the exception of those who have had strong language against Turkey, Russia, and China. Cooperation with the EU has been focused on children's rights issues, civil society protection, freedom of assembly and meetings, death penalty, freedom of religion and belief as well as topics for specific countries respectively in Burundi, Belarus and Myanmar. In December 2015 we co-sponsored the organization of the special session initiated by the EU for Burundi.

With membership in the HRC began a radical change in relations between Albania in the HRC and the OIC. The participation in meetings, the active participation in the process of negotiating resolutions and declarations, as well as constructive cooperation at all levels, enabled the creation of a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. This spirit is also reflected in the influence of the language of the statements of the organization, taking into account Albania's positions in the OIC statements. In December 2017 we co-sponsored the organization of the Myanmar Special Session, initiated by Bangladesh with the consensus support of OBI.

However non-related human rights policies with countries such as China, Turkey and Russia, Albania have supported to maintain consensus, what makes Albania to have the reputation of the country without "enemies" and soft diplomacy. Our country has played an active role with interventions and recommendations during the sessions of the Universal Periodic Mechanism Working Group (UPR) on human rights situation in UN member states, and during the adoption of HRC sessions (UPR outcomes).

In fulfilling the commitments deriving from the international conventions on human rights, we have had a fruitful and constructive dialogue with the expert committees of the Conventions, such as the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Violence against Women (CEDAW).

During these years we have sponsored and co-organized several activities. We can highlight the activity of Amnesty International and International Service for Human Rights; "HRC Pledging Event", as well as the event "Youth for Human Rights and Common Benefits". In the annual event organized by Switzerland during the March session of the HRC "Multicultural Day", Albania has introduced folk costumes and traditional cuisine.

Upon termination of Albania's three-year term in the HRC, an important phase of the country's participation in the decision-making process of an important body for the protection of human rights promotion and promotion at the international level is successfully closed. Engagement and the results achieved during this period create opportunities for Albania's re-election to the Council, enhance the image of Albania's possible candidacies to the treaty or HRC bodies, as well as enhance Albania's credibility for further membership in most organs the highest in the UN.

 

HRC Candidacy of Albania 2015-2017

The Contribution of Albania in HRC