- CIDH AFRICA
An introduction to the Human Rights Council and its Mechanisms
The promotion and protection of human rights around the world, the United Nations have embodied the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), usually called the Human Rights Council. The UNHRC was established by the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights. This establishment has been done throught resolution A/RES/60/251.
The UNHRC investigates on allegations of breaches and violations of human rights within the UN members states only. This organ address crucial thematic human rights issues such as freedom of expression, LGBTQ rights, women´ rights, rights of racial and ethnic minorities, freedom of association and assembly.
During its differents sessions the Council debate and pass resolution on global human rights issues and human rights situations in particular countries, appoint independent experts (known as ´Special Procedures´) to review human rights violations in specific countries and examine and further global human rights issues.
The Council consists of 47 members eleceted yearly by the General Assembly for a three-year term. The seats are distributed along the following scheme : 13 for the African Goup ; 13 for the Asia-Pacific Group ; 6 for the Eastern European Group ; 8 for the Latin America and Carribean Group ; 7 for the Western European and Others Group. The UNHRC holds regularly three sessions a year : March, June and September. The Council can decide to holds a special session at any time to address a rising issue of emergency and human rights violations. This can be done at the request of one-third of the member states.
To ensure its work is done effectively, the UNHRC has established mechanisms and a fixed working structure. An important component of the UNHRC is the Universal Periodic Review Working Group. This group works at reviewing all the 193 UN member states. The reports reviewed come from different sources, even from non-governmental organizations.
There is the Human Rights Consultative Committee : the Advisory Committee, which works is toprovide advice to the UNHRC. It has been created in September 2007. This committee was suggested to be created by the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights that was the main subsidiary body of the Council of Human Rights. The Sub-Commission has been replaced by the UNHCR which embodies its mandate.
The complaints procedure is another mechanism of the UNHRC. It has been established on June 18, 2007 for reporting of consistent pattenr gross and reliable attested violations of human rights and fundamental freedom anywhere in the world. There is two working groups for the complaints procedures : 1) The Working Group on Communications – made up of 5 experts designated among the members of the Advisory Committee, one coming from each regional group. They work during a three-year term that could be renewed. They madate is to determine whether a complaint deserves investigation ; 2) the Working Group on Situations – also made up of 5 members, appointed by the regional groups for one year renewable once. They madate is to examine the communications transferred by the Working Group on Communications addressing the human rights violations to present a report to the UNHRC and make recommendations.
In addition to these mechanisms, the UNHRC has other subsidiary bodies : Expert Mechanisms on the Rights of Indigenous People, Forum on Minority Issues, Social Forum.
The core mechanism of the Human Rights Council is ´Special Procedures´ that gather experts observations and advice on human rights issues everywhere in the world. Special Procedures are categorized either on thematic mandates, focusing on major human rights violations in the world, or country mandate, which report on the situation of specific countries. Special procedures can be either individuals, in this case they are called ´special rapporteurs´ or ´ independents experts´ who are supposed to be expert in a particular area of human rights, or working groups of 5 members usually, each group are from one region of United Nations. This structure and organization of UNHRC´s mechanisms is a strategic development to monitor effectively human rights around the world. The Council has been able to resolve various conflicts, situations, crisis within UN member states. We hope that the work could be pursued and strenghtened on order to ensure and ehance human rights protection in any circumstances