Human Rights Council

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is a global nonprofit organization representing and coordinating a membership of over 100 national United Nations Associations.


The UN Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council (HRC) is the main UN intergovernmental body responsible for the strengthening and promotion of human rights worldwide. It was established by the General Assembly (Res/60/251) on 15 March 2006 to replace the former Commission on Human Rights. Its mandate is to:

1. Promote universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner;

2. Address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations; and to make recommendations thereon;

3. Promote the effective coordination and the mainstreaming of human rights within the UN system.

The HRC is a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly. Its 47 Member States are elected for three-year terms by an absolute majority of the General Assembly in a secret ballot. The members are regionally allocated with a third of them being elected each year. HRC members are ineligible for re-election after two consecutive terms, therefore preventing de facto permanent membership. If a member of the HRC is found to commit gross human rights violations, the General Assembly, may vote to suspend their membership (with two-thirds majority of members present).

The HRC holds a minimum of three sessions each year, for a total of no less than 10 weeks. It can also convene Special Sessions at the request of a member of HRC with the support of a third of its members.

An innovative and important part of the HRC's machinery is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, through which the HRC periodically reviews the fulfillment by each of the UN's 192 Member States of their human rights obligation and commitments. In addition to the UPR, the HRC also has various mechanisms, including the Special Procedures, the Complaint Procedure, as well as the Open-ended Working Group on the right to Development, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of indigenous Peoples, the Forum on Minority Issues, the Social Forum, and a number of mechanism related to the Durban Declaration and Program of Action adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. An Advisory Committee provides expert advice to the Council on ad hoc issues.


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