International Humanist and Ethical Union
Organizational session for the 16th cycle of the Human Rights Council
6 December 2021
Thank you Madame President.
We join our civil society colleagues in expressing its concern that the Human Rights Council efficiency measures stand to be renewed for a third year in a row.
As civil society organizations have consistently made clear, these efficiency measures have been used to limit our participation in Council meetings. Increasingly, we find that it is civil society’s access that is deprioritized in an effort to save costs and promote efficiency, while our observer State counterparts do not suffer the same restrictions.
‘Efficiency measures’ have even been instrumentalised by some delegations, under the pretext of ‘saving meeting times’, in order to exclude civil society and to avoid effective scrutiny. 
We remind delegates that democracy and multilateralism requires inclusive participation and debate. There is no effective human rights system, nor is there a credible Human Rights Council, without the rich and diverse views of civil society, whose independent testimony functions as the eyes and ears of the Council.
Going forward, we call for any review of the efficiency measures to include proper consultation and regard for civil society’s concerns, to help ensure the Council is fit for purpose in years to come. We call for the reinstatement of General Debates in the June session, and for the removal of the de facto cap on participation during the General Debates in March and September. We also urge the Council to maintain the possibility for NGOs to engage remotely, even after easing COVID-19 related measures.
We would like to thank the current President for her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking forward, we also ask how the incoming President and Bureau plans to address these concerns, and to raise the bar on civil society participation next year.
'Statement in response to renewal of Human Rights Council efficiency measures', Humanists International