The Human Rights Council: revitalising the UN’s ‘forgotten pillar’
In 2006, member states sought to strengthen human rights as one of the three pillars of the United Nations by establishing (under General Assembly Resolution 60/251) the Human Rights Council to replace the Commission on Human Rights as the UN’s principal intergovernmental human rights body.
Since then, the Council has produced a significant body of work and a number of new mechanisms, notably the Universal Periodic Review process. However, it remains a young body and it is clear that the first decade of its existence – its ‘formative years’ – will make a major contribution towards determining its future relevance, effectiveness and impact.
Member states therefore bear an important responsibility to use the Council’s 10th anniversary as an opportunity to appraise its achievements and obstacles, and to identify ways in which to improve its performance and ensure that it can better meet the challenges it will face in its second decade. This exercise should feed into wider efforts to strengthen the UN, and into the work plan for the next Secretary-General.
The United Nations Association – UK (UNA-UK) and the Universal Rights Group (URG) organised a roundtable event in London to support the development of lessons learned and recommendations. The event brought together experts and practitioners from government, international organisations, civil society, and academia to provide expert input into what the Council might look like in the future, and how the UK might contribute to its reform.
The discussions, held under the Chatham House Rule, will inform a policy report on the future of the Human Rights Council; the place of human rights within the overall UN architecture; and the prospective role of the UK in strengthening the UN’s human rights system.