Source description last updated:
8 March 2019
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC), formerly known as the UN Commission on Human Rights, is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system working to promote and protect human rights across the world.
Coverage on ecoi.net:
Documents relating to the Universal Periodic Review (Periodical Report), reports of UN special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent Experts and working Groups of experts (Special or Analytical Report), reports of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) (Periodical Report), state reports and considerations of state reports by council members (Special or Analytical Report) etc.
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“The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. […]
The Council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly. […]
The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251. Its first session took place from 19 to 30 June 2006. One year later, the Council adopted its ‘Institution-building package’ to guide its work and set up its procedures and mechanisms.
Among them were the Universal Periodic Review mechanism which serves to assess the human rights situations in all United Nations Member States, the Advisory Committee which serves as the Council’s ‘think tank’ providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues and the Complaint Procedure which allows individuals and organizations to bring human rights violations to the attention of the Council.
The Human Rights Council also works with the UN Special Procedures established by the former Commission on Human Rights and now assumed by the Council. These are made up of special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts and working groups that monitor, examine, advise and publicly report on thematic issues or human rights situations in specific countries” (OHCHR website: About HRC, undated
). “As of 1 August 2017, there are 44 thematic and 12 country mandates” (OHCHR website: Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, undated
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) “serves as the Secretariat of the Human Rights Council” (OHCHR website: About Us: What we do, undated
) and “provides substantive and technical support to the HRC” and its UPR mechanism and special procedures (OHCHR website: About Us: Who we are, undated
“The global funding needs of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are covered by the United Nations regular budget at a rate of approximately 40 per cent. The remainder is covered by voluntary contributions from Member States and other donors.
The UN regular budget, approved by the General Assembly every two years, is funded by “assessed contributions” from each Member State that are determined according to a formula that takes into account the size and strength of their respective national economies.” (OHCHR website: OHCHR’s Funding and Budget, undated
For more information on OHCHR’s voluntary contributors, please see:
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: Worldwide
Thematic focus: all human rights issues
The Special Procedures involve country visits by mandate holders of the HRC (special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts and working groups). The visits are conducted upon invitation of the relevant state and have the aim of analysing “the human rights situation at the national level.” (OHCHR website: Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, undated
“Mandate-holders are called upon to take account of all available sources of information that they consider to be credible and relevant. This includes information emanating from Governments, inter-governmental organizations, international and national non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, academic community, the victims of alleged human rights abuses, relatives of victims, and witnesses. Wherever feasible and appropriate mandate-holders should endeavour to consult and meet with such sources, and they should seek to cross-check information received to the best extent possible. […]
[M]andate-holders should be guided in their information-gathering activities by the principles of discretion, transparency, impartiality, and even-handedness. They should rely on objective and dependable facts based on evidentiary standards that are appropriate to the non-judicial character of the reports and conclusions they are called upon to draw up.” (HRC: Manual of Operations of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, August 2008, p. 11
Among documents produced within the framework of the UPR, the Compilations of UN Information provide referenced summaries of relevant contents from other UN reports, with subsections structured by human rights issue (see, for example, HRC: Compilation on Azerbaijan; Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights [A/HRC/WG.6/30/AZE/2], 16 March 2018
Reports of the Working Group on the UPR summarise information provided by the state under review on its policies in the field of human rights protection (see, for example, HRC: Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review; Azerbaijan [A/HRC/39/14], 11 July 2018
Language(s) of publications:
English, Russian, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese
All links accessed 8 March 2019.