United Nations Human Rights Council

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The Human Rights Council made up of forty seven (47) states constitutes the main inter-governmental body within the United Nations system, which is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations while making recommendations on them. The 47 Council seats aim to ensure equitable geographical representation: 13 members are elected from Africa; 13 from Asia; 6 from Eastern Europe; 8 from Latin America and Caribbean; and 7 from Western Europe and other states. Member states that compose the Council are elected by the United Nations General Assembly for three-year terms and meet at the UN Office at Geneva.

According to its mandate, the Human Rights Council has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that necessitate its attention throughout the year functioning as a forum for the aforementioned issues. The Council having as an objective to address human rights violations focuses on efficiently assisting member states meet their human rights obligations through dialogue, capacity building, and technical assistance and makes recommendations to the General Assembly for further development of international law in the field of human rights.

Human Rights Council replaced its “predecessor”, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 2006. More specifically, it was established by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251. Its first session convened from 19 to 30 June 2006, since the first members of the Council were elected on 9 May 2006.

On 18 June 2007 the Human Rights Council adopted its “Institution-building package”, in order to direct its work, as well as establish its procedures and mechanisms. Universal Periodic Review constitutes one of them, since it assesses the situation of human rights in all 193 UN member states. Furthermore, the Advisory Committee being a “think tank” provides expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues that pertain to all parts of the world, while Complaint Procedure allows individuals and organizations to bring complaints about human rights violations to the attention of the Council. Last but not least, it addresses specific country situations or thematic issues cooperating with special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts and working groups that monitor, examine, advise and publicly reports on the aforementioned matters.

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