UN Human Rights Council (formerly UN Commission on Human Rights)
Last update of this source description: 14 November 2011.  
“The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 States responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. The Council was created by the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 with the main purpose of addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.
One year after holding its first meeting, on 18 June 2007, the Council adopted its “Institution-building package” providing elements to guide it in its future work. Among the elements is the new Universal Periodic Review mechanism which will assess the human rights situations in all 192 UN Member States. Other features include a new Advisory Committee which serves as the Council’s “think tank” providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues and the revised Complaints Procedure mechanism which allows individuals and organizations to bring complaints about human rights violations to the attention of the Council. The Human Rights Council also continues to work closely with the UN Special Procedures established by the former Commission on Human Rights and assumed by the Council.” (UN Human Rights Council Website, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/, accessed 14 November 2011)
Target group:
State members of the Human Rights Council, relevant UN bodies and agencies, general public
“the Council shall be responsible for promoting 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; [...] the Council should address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon. It should also promote the effective coordination and the mainstreaming of human rights within the United Nations system; [...] the work of the Council shall be guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive international dialogue and cooperation, with a view to enhancing the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development” (UN Human Rights Council Website, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/A.RES.60.251_En.pdf, accessed 14 November 2011)
“OHCHR receives about one third of its funding needs from the United Nations regular budget which is approved by the General Assembly every two years. […] The other two thirds of OHCHR’s budget needs are met from voluntary contributions by Member States and other donors.” (UN Human Rights Council Website, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/FundingBudget.aspx, accessed 11 May 2011)
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: worldwide and 8 specific country mandates. For detailed information see: (UN Human Rights Council Website, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/chr/special/countries.htm, accessed 14 November 2011)
Thematic focus: “Currently, there are 33 thematic and 8 country mandates covered by the Human Rights Council’s Special Procedure.” For detailed information see: (UN Human Rights Council Website, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/chr/special/, accessed 11 May 2011)
Reporting methodology:
Complaint Procedure:
“Pursuant to Council resolution 5/1, the Complaint Procedure is being established to address consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested violations of all human rights and all fundamental freedoms occurring in any part of the world and under any circumstances. […] Two distinct working groups - the Working Group on Communications and the Working Group on Situations - are established with the mandate to examine the communications and to bring to the attention of the Council consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” (UN Human Rights Council Website, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/chr/complaints.htm, accessed 14 November 2011)
Special Procedures:
“Special procedures are either an individual (called "Special Rapporteur", "Special Representative of the Secretary-General" or "Independent Expert") or a working group […] Special Procedures receive information on specific allegations of human rights violations and send urgent appeals or letters of allegation to governments asking for clarification. […] Mandate holders also carry out country visits to investigate the situation of human rights at the national level.” (UN Human Rights Council Website, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/chr/special/index.htm, accessed 14 November 2011)
Universal Periodic Review:
The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. […] It is a cooperative process which, by 2011, will have reviewed the human rights records of every country. (UN Human Rights Council Website, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRmain.aspx, accessed 14 November 2011)
Publication cycle:
Sessions are held three times a year.
“The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years.” (UN Human Rights Council Website, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRmain.aspx, accessed 14 November 2011)
English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Chinese
Navigation of website:
Reports can be found by selecting a session in the main menu on the left, then select Documentation > “Reports” or “NGO written statements”. Please note: Some NGO written statements are only available with access to the HRC extranet.
Additional references:
BBC Website, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4810538.stm, accessed 14 November 2011
All documents available on ecoi.net from this source