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The Human Rights Council and Universal Periodic Review

The Human Rights Council (HRC) is a United Nations (UN) body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world. While there have been a limited number of resolutions that are directly relevant to tobacco control, there are many others that could support a human rights based approach to health, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and tobacco control.

Human Rights Council Sessions Supporting Human Rights and Tobacco Control

Thirty-Seventh Session: Official Observer Status

2018 – Promotion and protection of human rights and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Asks the Convention Secretariat to communicate with various bodies about becoming official observers, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Read more…

Thirty-Fifth Session: Health and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

2017- The right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Read more…

Eighth Session: Anchoring the Business and Human Rights Debate

2008- Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development protect, respect and remedy: a framework for business and human rights. This report presents a conceptual and policy framework to anchor the business and human rights debate, and to help guide all relevant actors. Read more…

Submissions to the Human Rights Council

As tobacco is a human rights issue, ASH and partners often answer calls for input to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The head of this office is the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who acts as the secretariat of the Human Rights Council.

Submissions from ASH and Partners

Input on HRC Resolution 43/19: Tobacco, Development and COVID-19 Recovery

January 2021

The Human Rights Council issued a call for written input on what is being done to implement the 2030 Agenda in the context of COVID-19 recovery as part of Human Rights Council Resolution 43/19. ASH and partners took this opportunity to highlight tobacco in the human rights context, given that tobacco is included in the SDG’s (target 3.a), and given the negative impact that tobacco has on COVID 19.

Response to a Request for Input from the OHCHR on Systemic Racism

December 2020

Response to an open call from the OHCHR on systemic racism. ASH and our partners at the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) responded with a written submission on menthol cigarettes, which pose special challenges to the health and human rights of people of African descent, particularly in the United States.

Letter to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing

November 2019

A letter on the threat of secondhand smoke exposure in housing urging the Special Rapporteur to include the prevention of exposure to tobacco smoke in the guidelines for the implementation of the right to adequate housing.

Letter on Children's Rights and the Environment

October 2019

A letter to The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on children’s rights and the environment.

Letter on Tobacco and the SDGs

February 2019

ASH submitted a letter highlighting the link between tobacco control, implementation of the WHO tobacco treaty, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). ASH promoted tobacco control as an example of “effective methods to foster cooperation between local government and local stakeholders for the effective promotion and protection of human rights.”

ASH Submission to OHCHR


*Link not yet available.

Cape Town Declaration Submission

March 2018

After the Cape Town Declaration on Human Rights and a Tobacco-Free World was passed by the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH), it was submitted to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Statements at the Human Rights Council

ASH Statements at the HRC

ASH Oral Statement- HRC Session 41, June 2019

Click here to read the ASH’s Oral Statement to the HRC on Target 3.a of the SDGs.

ASH Written Statement- HRC Session 41, June 2019

Click here to read ASH’s written submission on the tobacco industry and the Right to Health.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

One of the primary Human Rights Council mechanisms is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR assess human rights situations in all UN Member States with the goal of improving the human rights situation in all countries and addressing all human rights violations. To conduct this assessment, the UPR Working Group reviews the country’s national report, information from independent human rights experts, and information from other stakeholders including non-governmental organizations. ASH and partners submit information to be considered during the review process for specific countries and make statements at the regular session of the Human Rights Council when country reviews are considered. For more information on the UPR, please visit the learning resources page.

Submissions from ASH and Partners

Spain UPR Shadow Report


A UPR report (in Spanish/ en español) on “Tobacco Control in Spain: Unresolved Matters for the Protection of Women’s Health in Spain”

United States UPR Shadow Report


A UPR shadow report on “Tobacco Control in the United States: Failure to Protect the Right to Health.” Our report provides key facts and statistics to substantiate that tobacco is a human rights issue and should be considered as part of the government’s human rights obligations. Tobacco, and the actions of the tobacco industry, prevents citizens of the United States from enjoying the highest attainable standard of health and disproportionately impacts people of certain races and economic and social conditions.

Our work on the U.S. report was featured in this article in the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Journal

Upcoming Submissions
















South Africa






United Kingdom