UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL (UN HRC)
Background information on the Human Rights Council
The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.
The Council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly. The Human Rights Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights
The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly
on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251
. Its first session took place from 19 to 30 June 2006. One year later, the Council adopted its "Institution-building package
" to guide its work and set up its procedures and mechanisms.
Among them were the Universal Periodic Review
mechanism which serves to assess the human rights situations in all United Nations Member States, the Advisory Committee
which serves as the Council’s “think tank” providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues and the Complaint Procedure
which allows individuals and organizations to bring human rights violations to the attention of the Council.
The Human Rights Council also works with the UN Special Procedures
established by the former Commission on Human Rights and now assumed by the Council. These are made up of special rapporteur, special representatives, independent experts and working groups that monitor, examine, advise and publicly report on thematic issues or human rights situations in specific countries.
Review of the Council
When creating the Human Rights Council in March 2006 the United Nations General Assembly decided that the Council’s work and functioning should be reviewed five years after it had come into existence at the level of the General Assembly. More information about the review and its 2011 outcome are available at HRC website.
Human Rights Bodies
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) works to offer the best expertise and support to the different human rights monitoring mechanisms in the United Nations system : UN Charter-based bodies, including the Human Rights Council, and bodies created under the international human rights treaties and made up of independent experts mandated to monitor State parties' compliance with their treaty obligations. Most of these bodies receive secretariat support from the Human Rights Council and Treaties Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
There are ten human rights treaty bodies that monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties
Charter bodies include the former Commission on Human Rights, the Human Rights Council , and Special Procedures. The Human Rights Council, which replaced the Commission on Human Rights, held its first meeting on 19 June 2006. This intergovernmental body, which meets in Geneva 10 weeks a year, is composed of 47 elected United Nations Member States who serve for an initial period of 3 years, and cannot be elected for more than two consecutive terms. The Human Rights Council is a forum empowered to prevent abuses, inequity and discrimination, protect the most vulnerable, and expose perpetrators.
The Human Rights Council is a separate entity from OHCHR. This distinction originates from the separate mandates they were given by the General Assembly. Nevertheless, OHCHR provides substantive support for the meetings of the Human Rights Council, and follow-up to the Council's deliberations.
Special Procedures is the general name given to the mechanisms established by the Commission on Human Rights and assumed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures are either an individual –a special rapporteur or representative, or independent expert—or a working group. They are prominent, independent experts working on a voluntary basis, appointed by the Human Rights Council.
Special Procedures' mandates usually call on mandate-holders to examine, monitor, advise and publicly report on human rights situations in specific countries or territories, known as country mandates, or on major phenomena of human rights violations worldwide, known as thematic mandates. There are 30 thematic mandates and 8 country mandates. All report to the Human Rights Council on their findings and recommendations. They are sometimes the only mechanism that will alert the international community on certain human rights issues.
OHCHR supports the work of rapporteurs, representatives and working groups through its Special Procedures Division (SPD) which services 27 thematic mandates; and the Research and Right to Development Division (RRDD) which aims to improve the integration of human rights standards and principles, including the rights to development; while the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division (FOTCD) supports the work of country-mandates.
Dr. Navi Pillay (
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)
The appointment of Navanethem Pillay as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was approved by the General Assembly on 28 July 2008. She took up the post on 1 September 2008.
Ms. Pillay, a South African national, was the first woman to start a law practice in her home province of Natal in 1967. Over the next few years, she acted as a defense attorney for anti-apartheid activists, exposing torture, and helping establish key rights for prisoners on Robben Island.
She also worked as a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and later was appointed Vice-President of the Council of the University of Durban Westville. In 1995, after the end of apartheid, Ms. Pillay was appointed a judge on the South African High Court, and in the same year was chosen to be a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she served a total of eight years, the last four (1999-2003) as President. She played a critical role in the ICTR's groundbreaking jurisprudence on rape as genocide, as well as on issues of freedom of speech and hate propaganda. In 2003, she was appointed as a judge on the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where she remained until August 2008.
In South Africa, as a member of the Women's National Coalition, she contributed to the inclusion of an equality clause in the country’s Constitution that prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, religion and sexual orientation. She co-founded Equality Now, an international women's rights organization, and has been involved with other organizations working on issues relating to children, detainees, victims of torture and of domestic violence, and a range of economic, social and cultural rights.
Ms. Pillay received a BA and a LLB from Natal University South Africa. She also holds a Master of Law and a Doctorate of Juridical Science (دكتوراه في القانون) from Harvard University. She was born in 1941, and has two daughters.
There are nine core international human rights treaties
, the most recent one -- on enforced disappearance -- entered into force on 23 December 2010. Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, all UN Member States have ratified at least one core international human rights treaty, and 80 percent have ratified four or more.
There are currently ten human rights treaty bodies, which are committees of independent experts. Nine of these treaty bodies monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties while the tenth treaty body, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, established under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, monitors places of detention in States parties to the Optional Protocol.
The treaty bodies are created in accordance with the provisions of the treaty that they monitor. OHCHR supports the work of treaty bodies and assists them in harmonizing their working methods and reporting requirements through their secretariats.
There are other United Nations bodies and entities
involved in the promotion and protection of human rights.
The Human Rights Council holds no fewer than three regular sessions a year, for a total of at least ten weeks. They take place in March (four weeks), June (three weeks) and September (three weeks).
If one third of the Member States requests so, the Human Rights Council can decide at any time to hold a special session to address human rights violations and emergencies.
Regular Session (18-06-2006 to 30-06-2006)
Regular Session (18-09-2006 to 29-11-2006)
Regular Session (29-11-2006 to 08-12-2006)
Regular Session (12-03-2007 to 30-03-2007)
Regular Session (11-06-2007 to 18-06-2007)
Regular Session (10-09-2007 to 28-09-2007)
Regular Session (03-03-2008 to 28-03-2008)
8th Regular Session (02-06-2008 to 18-06-2008)
9th Regular Session (08-09-2008 to 26-09-2008)
10th Regular Session (02-03-2009 to 27-03-2009)
11th Regular Session (02-06-2009 to 18-06-2009)
12th Regular Session (14-09-2009 to 02-10-2009)
13th Regular Session (01-03-2010 to 26-03-2010)
14th Regular Session (31-05-2010 to 18-06 -2010)
15th Regular Session (13-09-2010 to 10-10 -2010)
16th Regular Session (28-02-2011to 25-03 -2011)
17th Regular Session (30-05-2011to 17-06 -2011)
18th Regular Session (12-09-2011to 30-09 -2011)
19th Regular Session (27-02-2012to 23-03 -2012)
20th Regular Session (18-06-2012to 06-07 -2012)
21th Regular Session (10-09-2012to 28-09 -2012)
22nd Regular Session (25-02-2013 to 22-03-2013)
23rd Regular Session (27-05-2013 to 14-06-2013)
24th Regular Session ( 09-09-2013 to 27-09-2013)
25th Regular Session (03-03-2014 to 28-09-2013 )
According to the Human Rights Council’s “institution-building package”, the Universal Periodic Review Working Group will hold three two-week sessions per year. During each session 16 countries will be reviewed, therefore 48 countries per year and 192 countries by 2011, or the entire UN membership over the course of the first UPR cycle (2008-2011). On 21 September 2007, the Human Rights Council adopted a calendar detailing the order in which the 192 UN Member States will be considered during the first four-year cycle. Each review is facilitated by groups of three States, or “troikas”, who act as Rapporteur.
The following is the list of sessions scheduled for the 1st four-year cycle, including the list of countries being reviewed during the session, as well as the timetables for each two-week session and the list of “troikas” for each review, where available.
(Please note: The order of review, timetables and list of troikas are only determined shortly before the respective sessions. All documents below are available in Pdf format)