Dear Delegates

Welcome to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United Nations’ newest and most exciting council! Established in 2006 and consisting of 47 member-states, the Human Rights Council is tasked with championing the United Nations’ primary purposes of “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” To do so, the Human Rights Council makes recommendations to the United Nations General Assembly regarding how the United Nations should respond to situations of human rights violations around the world.

To do their life-saving work, the Human Rights Council meets at least three times a year for a minimum of ten weeks in regular sessions. The Human Rights Council can also meet for additional special sessions after a one-third vote to address time-sensitive human rights emergencies. In the past two years, the Human Rights Council has held special sessions regarding the Syrian civil war, human rights violations in Burundi, and the terrorist attacks conducted by members of Boko Haram, an extremist group based in Nigeria.

When the United Nations Human Rights Council meets in Hong Kong in January 2017, we will discuss two topics: human rights violations in North Korea and capital punishment internationally. Under the leadership of the Kim dynasty over the past twenty years, North Korea has become, arguably, the world’s most repressive regime, regularly restricting the basic freedom of its citizens and committing large-scale human rights abuses. Furthermore, despite a global movement spearheaded by the United Nations and Amnesty International to abolish capital punishment, 2015 had the highest number of recorded executions in the last 25 years. As delegates in the UN Human Rights Council, you bear the responsibility of both shaping UN policy towards North Korea and deciding whether the death penalty has a place in the 21st century.

You will learn how to debate effectively, think critically, and speak extemporaneously, and I cannot wait to see the creativity and intellect you will bring to the table. I am looking forward to meeting each of you soon!

Shing-Shing Cao
Chair, United Nations Human Rights Council, HMC Asia 2017

About Me

Shing-Shing Cao

UN Human Rights Council
Shing-Shing is a junior at Harvard concentrating in Economics with a secondary in Computer Science. She grew up in Newark, Delaware but now lives in San Diego, California. Outside of HMC, she works with refugees in an immigration law clinic, teaches statistics, and volunteers at a student-run youth homeless shelter. She’s a big fan of road trips, hiking, and brunch food, and she cannot wait to meet you all!

Pre-Conference Assignment

Each delegate will submit two one-minute speeches, one on each briefing topic. These speeches should written from the perspective of the delegate’s assigned role — for example, a delegate assigned the role of the United States should present arguments that the United States would be in favor of. The pre-conference assignments are due on December 22nd and should be sent to your committee chairs by email (see above). Delegates should use this opportunity to research their role and become familiar with the topics at hand in order to prepare for the conference. Committee chairs will provide feedback on these assignments before the conference.