Introduction to the Human Rights Council and the UPR

Introduction to the Human Rights Council and the UPR by Mr. Yves Lador, consultant and EarthJustice's representative ( at the United Nations, Geneva, and Mr. Joshua Cooper, chief exécutive, Hawaiian Institute of Human Rights, Hawaï.

Established in 1946, the United Nations Human Rights Commission aims to promote human rights around the world. Considered on one side as an important body, it is critizised on the other side for it’s highly politicized way of runnning. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General from 1997 to 2005, states in his report - In Larger Freedom : Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All - that the Commission shows a lack of credibility and a drop throughout the years of professional know how. These are the reasons why K. Annan suggest the idea of creating a human rights council which could become a full UN body rather than a subsidiarity one tied up to the Economic and Social Council. This new Council was created the 15 of march 2006 following the 60/251 Resolution of the UN General Assembly. This decision can be seen as a compromise in between the UN members states. One year of negociations will after be needed to set up the new Council rules of functionning which will be adopted in extremis the 18th of june 2007 on behalf of Resolution 5/1 and as a result of a settlement among different political tendencies.

The Human Rights Council is a political body. Its members are gathered together for at least 10 weeks throughout the year while the former Commission used to meet less. The Council is directly under the authority of the General Assembly. Therefore, its political weight is far more important given the fact it is a full UN body. The Council can also at any moment and rapidly hold an extraordinary session to deal with an amergency situation or a worldwide crisis such as the 2008 food crisis. Such session can be held provided an appeal signed by 13 members of the Council.

Click to download the introductory slides en PDF format
The human rights protection at the universal level (1,1Mo)
The Human Rights Council : a new body and a new challenge (863Ko)
The Human Rights Counicil and the Universal periodic review (1,4Mo)