Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Human Rights Council 2015-2017

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Portugal presented its candidature to the Human Rights Council (HRC) for the term 2015-2017 in January 2011.

Portugal participated in the establishment of the HRC and has ever since actively participated as an observer, while never been a member. Portugal was the first Western European and Other States Group (WEOG) country to present its candidature to one of the 47 seats of the Human Rights Council.

The election of Portugal is a strong bid in a country that fully supports a strong, independent and effective United Nations human rights system - one that contributes to improve the human rights situation worldwide.


Voluntary contributions and engagements in accordance with resolution A/RES/60/251

Portugal’s permanent commitment to Human Rights

Portugal is strongly committed to promoting and respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. This principle is enshrined in Portugal´s Constitution and is a key priority of our Government, both at home and abroad.

Portugal firmly upholds the values and objectives of the United Nations Charter. Accordingly, the defence of effective multilateralism and the primacy of the United Nations in international affairs is a pillar of Portugueses Foreign policy.

Portugal’s commitment to human rights has guided our mandates as non-permanent member of the Security Council and our work in the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee, in the former Human Rights Commission, and - since its creation in 2006 -, the Human Rights Council.

Portugal fully supports a strong, independent and effective UN human rights system – one that contributes to improve the human rights situation worldwide.

Portugal is party to eight UN core human rights treaties and all their optional protocols, which are directly applicable in our internal legal system, after publication in the Portuguese Official Journal, Diário da República.

We have signed and ratified, without reservations:

-        The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Optional Protocols;

-        The International Covenant on Economic, Civil and Cultural Rights and its Optional Protocol;

-        The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;

-        The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol;

-        The Convention on the Rights of the Child and all its Optional Protocols;

-        The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol;

-        The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol;

-        The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Portugal recognizes the full range of competences of the United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies, in all their scope, including the power to examine individual complaints, complaints between States and the power to carry out processes of inquiry.

Portugal is also party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and recognises its jurisdiction as compulsory.

At the regional level, Portugal actively supports and participates in the work of the Council of Europe and the OSCE in the field of human rights.

In the Council of Europe, Portugal is party to the European Convention of Human Rights and most of its Protocols., Portugal recognizes the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. We are also party to the majority of the Council of Europe’s Conventions on human rights and recognise the competence of the Committees established by these Conventions.

The Portuguese Ombudsman is our National Human Rights Institution, accredited with an A status in accordance with the United Nations Paris Principles. It is a well established independent institution, constitutionally and legally mandated to defend and promote citizens’ rights and fundamental freedoms.

At the international level, Portugal is committed to promoting the establishment and strengthening of National Human Rights Institutions.

In line with our longstanding commitment to the promotion and the protection of human rights and our support to the role played by the United Nations, if elected to the Human Rights Council Portugal pledges to:

I. Fully participate in the work of the Human Rights Council, by:

  1. Promoting and protecting the universality, indivisibility, inalienability and interdependence all human rights, be they civil, cultural, economic, social or political;
  2. Establishing an open dialogue and constructive cooperation with all States, both members and non-members of the Council, thereby improving the quality of the debates;
  3. Advocating an horizontal and inclusive approach to human rights issues in all the spheres of action of the United Nations and working for the improvement of the coordination and of the efficiency of the United Nations’ Human Rights instruments;
  4. Continuing to present its national initiatives on economic, social and cultural rights and on the right to education;
  5. Maintaining its standing invitation to the Special Rapporteurs and to all other Special Procedures to visit Portugal;
  6. Actively participating and supporting the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) as a key cooperative mechanism aimed at improving respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide;
  7. Supporting the participation of the NGOs in the work of the Council as a positive and important contribution to strengthening the dialogue between States and civil society;
  8. Supporting the participation of the National Human Rights Institutions in the work of the Council.

II. Support the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Treaty Bodies and the Special Procedures, by:

  1. Upholding their independence and efficiency, which are essential to ensure the implementation, by States, of their human rights obligations.

III. Promote and protect Human Rights at international level, by:

  1. Encouraging all States to become party to the main international Human Rights instruments and to fully implement their obligations in this field;
  2. Widely disseminating information regarding Human Rights obligations, thereby contributing to a greater respect and implementation of these obligations and to ensuring an appropriate response by the international community to human rights violations;
  3. Promoting the abolition of the death penalty in all countries;
  4. Promoting the elimination of all forms of discrimination, namely based on ancestry, gender, race, language, territory of origin, religion, political or ideological beliefs, education, economic situation, social status or sexual orientation;
  5. Promoting and protecting the rights of the child, always giving full priority to the child’s best interest;
  6. Promoting and protecting the rights of those most vulnerable in our societies;
  7. Promoting the respect for the economic, social and cultural rights, including through the promotion of  the universal ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
  8. Contributing, through our bilateral development aid and through the United Nations system, to strengthening democracy, good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  9. Promoting the inclusion of a human rights’ perspective in the post-2015 Development Agenda;
  10. Encouraging the setting up of National Human Rights institutions in accordance with the United Nations’ Paris Principles, as well as encouraging the cooperation between these institutions and their respective authorities.

IV. Promoting and protecting Human Rights at national level, by:

  1. Reinforcing Portugal’s recognition of the complaints procedures and the individual and inter State inquiries set up by the Human Rights’ Treaties;
  2. Continuing to cooperate fully with the Treaty Bodies, implementing their recommendations and respecting its reporting obligations in a timely manner;
  3. Implementing the Universal Periodic Reviews’ Recommendations accepted by Portugal;
  4. Continuing to make full use of the Portuguese National Human Rights Committee, an inter-ministerial body set up in 2010, responsible for intergovernmental coordination with the aim of promoting an integrated approach to human rights policies;
  5. Promoting the adoption of legislation, programmes and policies with impact on human rights;
  6. Reinforcing further cooperation with the civil society;
  7. Strengthening the protection and promotion of the rights of women and ensuring that a gender perspective is included in all policies and programmes adopted at national level;
  8. Improving the protection and promotion of the rights of the child and ensuring that a solid perspective of the promotion of the rights of the child is included in all relevant policies and programmes adopted at national level;
  9. Continuing to implement its international obligations, national legislation, as well as best practices and internationally agreed guidelines, to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all related forms of intolerance;
  10. Fully implementing its comprehensive human rights policy instruments, including, inter alia, its National Plan against Domestic/Gender-Based Violence, its Equality Plan, its National Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings, its Programme of Action for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation, its National Action Plan on the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 (2009-2014) and its National Strategy for the Integration of Roma  Communities;
  11. Developing national human rights indicators to effectively monitor and assess the implementation of its obligations;
  12. Remaining mindful that with an enhanced role abroad comes a greater responsibility at home in promoting and protecting human rights for all.