UN General Assembly resolution 60/251 established the Human Rights Council (HRC) as the most prominent UN human rights body in the UN system, subsidiary body to the General Assembly. The Council is composed of 47 member States, elected by the General Assembly in a secret ballot and by an absolute majority. Candidates are selected on the basis of their "contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights and voluntary pledges and commitments". After two consecutive terms, members are not re-eligible for one year. Any member that commits gross and systematic violations of human rights can be suspended by the General Assembly by a two-thirds majority.
The HRC meets for a minimum of three sessions for a total of no less than of ten weeks per year, with the possibility to convene additional sessions at the request of any member and supported by one third of the membership of the Council.
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- Promote human rights education and learning as well as advisory services, technical assistance, and capacity building, to be provided in consultation with and with the consent of Member States concerned,
- Serve as a forum for dialogue on thematic issues on all human rights,
- Make recommendations to the General Assembly for the further development of international law in the field of human rights,
- Promote the full implementation of human rights obligations undertaken by States and follow up to the goals and commitments related to the promotion and protection of human rights emanating from UN conferences and summits,
- Undertake a Universal Periodic Review (UPR), based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensure universality of coverage and equal treatments with respect to all States. Find out all UPR statements by a simple online search on our Documentation Center »
- Contribute, through dialogue and cooperation, towards the prevention of human rights violations and responds promptly to human rights emergencies,
- Assume the role and responsibilities of the Commission on Human Rights relating to the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
- Work in close cooperation in the field of human rights with governments, regional organisations, national human rights institutions, and civil society,
- Make recommendations with regard to the promotion and protection of human rights,
- Submit an annual report to the General Assembly.
Pursuant to article 71 of the UN Charter, the participation of NGOs in the Human Rights Council is based on legal principles and allows ECOSOC to “make suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organisations, which are concerned with matters within its competence”. The Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 developed applicable practices for this consultative status and for participation rights of authorized NGOs.
NGOs are therefore entitled to take part in the Human Rights Council by:
- submitting written communications,
- presenting oral statements,
- supporting and facilitating the drafting of resolutions,
- participating in negotiations of draft resolutions,
- organizing parallel events.