High-Level Thematic Debate on Human Rights

Logo of HLTD on Human Rights


As part of his new commitment to action, the President of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, will organise a high-level Thematic Debate of the UN General Assembly focused on Human Rights on 12-13 July 2016.

At the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as a series of UN reviews and action plans in the area of peace and security lies a demand for a stronger focus on human rights across all aspects of society. These developments demonstrate the ever-increasing linkages between the three pillars of the UN but they also highlight the need to ensure that each pillar is given equal prominence.

The event takes place in the context of the 50th anniversary of the International Human Rights Covenants, the 30th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development and the process to select and appoint the next United Nations Secretary-General. It will be an opportunity to take an overarching view of the human rights situation in our world today, reinforce the foundations for human rights and how action to realize human rights can contribute to progress on peace and security and sustainable development and vice-versa, as well as highlight ways to strengthen the United Nations’ role in this area and identify actions to unleash rapid improvements in the realization of human rights globally.

High-level representatives from States, the UN-system, regional organisations, human rights bodies and mechanisms, civil society, think tanks and private sector will participate. Declared candidates seeking to become the next Secretary-General will also be invited.

This event will comprise an opening segment, a plenary debate with ministerial participation and interactive segments on three areas of focus. Moderators for each interactive segment will draw on expert contributors and engage member states in an open discussion on these issues.

On the margins of the HLTD, an event is planned on 12 July to solicit the views of candidates for the position of UN Secretary-General on the challenges and opportunities facing the UN in the field of Human Rights.

High-level representatives from States, the UN-system, regional organisations, human rights bodies and mechanisms, civil society, think tanks and private sector will participate.

Note: Member States who will have Ministers in attendance are asked to contact the Office of the PGA to discuss possible lead discussant roles in one of the interactive sessions.

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Tackling discrimination and inequalities

Non-discrimination is a central principle of international human rights law and indispensable to realizing all human rights. Yet people continue to be directly and indirectly discriminated against on a number of grounds   In addition, inequalities and discrimination are among the major drivers of poverty, exclusion and disenfranchisement which must be tackled to prevent conflict and realize the 2030 Agenda. How can we mobilize greater action at global and national levels to address issues of discrimination and inequalities?

Strengthening governance, the rule of law and access to justice

Human Rights will not be realized without access to justice, the rule of law and effective, transparent, accountable and inclusive institutions. Making progress at the national and global levels on these issues is also central to global peace and security and realizing the 2030 Agenda . These issues however are often among the most challenging areas for governments and other actors to tackle. How can actors work together to overcome these challenges?

Enabling active participation in society

Progress on global issues in the 21st century is increasingly dependent on the ability of actors – governments, the private sector, civil society, human rights defenders, and international organizations – to work together. Yet to do so, the rights of these actors to engage, to advocate and to criticize must be respected. How can we create environments that facilitate positive inter-action, protect civil society space and fundamental freedoms?

Note: Member States who will have Ministers in attendance are asked to contact the Office of the PGA to discuss possible lead discussant roles in one of the interactive sessions.

Member states who wish to inscribe in the list of speakers for the plenary debate to contact poliakova@un.org

UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs NGO Branch (UN-DESA/NGOB) are facilitating a process to identify two civil society speakers, and all civil society attendees for this event.

UN-NGLS will facilitate a civil society Selection Committee for the evaluation and short-listing of candidates for the speaking roles, to be presented to OPGA for their consideration. The Committee will ensure regional and gender balance, and diversity of age and expertise in the overall set of candidates. The President of the General Assembly will make the final selection of the speakers for this event.

The application process is closed.

The two civil society speaker selected through above process are Ms. Agnes Leina Ntikaampi from Kenya, representing Illaramatak Community Concerns for the Opening Session and Ms. Diakhoumba Gassama, from Senegal, representing Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice (RESURJ) for the Interactive segment on “Combatting discrimination and inequalities”.

Registration for Global Townhall Event with United Nations Secretary-General Candidates on 12 July 2016

Event description:

In the margins of his High Level Thematic Debate on Human Rights, the President of the General Assembly will organize and host an event, in partnership with Al Jazeera Media Network, entitled: “Leading the United Nations: A Global Townhall with UN Secretary-General candidates” on Tuesday, 12 July 2016, from 6.00p.m – 9.00p.m.
This event seeks to enhance public interest in the work of the United Nations and its next Secretary-General.
It is distinct from the UN General Assembly mandated informal dialogues with candidates that have taken place over the past few months and that will continue to be held if further candidates are presented.
Attending candidates will be engaged in an open discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing the next Secretary-General. The event will begin with an initial focus on Human Rights but will proceed to address a broad range of relevant topics.


The event will be broadcast live across the world by Al Jazeera media network, made available free of charge to all broadcast media and simultaneously streamed live on UN-WebTV.
It will consist of two debates with professional moderators and a number of candidates. Each debate will run for a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes.

6.00pm-6.30pm: Pre-live setting the stage

6.30pm-7.45pm: Segment 1 with the following candidates: Mr. Vuk Jeremic; Ms. Vesna Pusić; Ms. Natalia Gherman; Ms. Susana Malcorra; Mr. António Guterres

7.45pm-9.00pm: Segment 2 with the following candidates: Mr. Danilo Türk; Ms. Irina Bokova; Mr. Igor Lukšić; Ms. Christiana Figueres; Ms. Helen Clark


Participation in this event will be open to Member States, Observers, Civil Society and UN Staff. The deadline for registration is Sunday, 10 July.
In order to assist OPGA in managing the high level of interest in
this event, delegates/observers are kindly asked to register online.
UN Staff and Civil Society who wish to attend should also register on the same webpage (bearing in mind the limited number of seats available).

Only those who have registered online will be allowed to enter the event (bearing in mind the limited seats available).


The GA Hall will be accessible from 5.30pm. A pre-event which will set the scene for the live debates will begin at 6.00p.m. Those who arrive after 6.10p.m. will not be able to enter until there is an intermission in the event.

Register here for Global Townhall Event

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