Beyond the Council

While the Human Rights Council, its mechanisms and the human rights treaty bodies are the major centres of gravity of the international human rights system, that system extends far beyond Geneva and far beyond the dedicated UN human rights mechanisms in both its scope and its reach.

At UN headquarters in New York, the General Assembly’s Third Committee retains significant influence over international human rights policy, while the Security Council increasingly views systematic human rights violations as constituting a threat to international peace and security. Regional human rights systems, consisting of regional instruments and mechanisms, play an increasingly important role in the promotion and protection of human rights. Regional instruments help to localise international human rights norms and standards, reflecting the particular human rights concerns of the region. Regional mechanisms then help to implement these instruments on the ground. Currently, the three most well-established regional human rights systems exist in Europe, the Americas and Africa.

The URG’s Beyond Geneva programme looks at key components of this wider human rights system, how effective they are, and how they interact with each other.

Our projects

The evolving role of the Human Rights Council as a ‘catalyst’ for wider UN country engagement

External perceptions of the Human Rights Council have become strongly linked with the body’s evolving role in responding to pressing human rights emergencies (in its own right, and also as a ‘catalyst’ for broader UN engagement – e.g. Security Council and ICC).

This project seeks to examine and understand the evolving role of the Human Rights Council in responding to country situations, including by acting as a ‘catalyst’ for broader UN engagement. It will also assess the views of major stakeholders in this regard, and develop an understanding of the implications thereof. In particular, it will focus on the Council’s role with Libya and Syria, analysing its resolutions on these countries, and the interaction between Geneva and New York.

Mainstreaming as a tool for strengthening the implementation of human rights commitments

Mainstreaming is a key part of the Council’s mandate as per paragraph 3 of 60/251 and talk about ‘mainstreaming human rights’ and ‘taking a rights-based approach’ is widespread. And yet, there seems to be confusion over what this actually means, and how it is achieved. This project will explain what human rights mainstreaming means in practice –from an institutional perspective and across thematic issues – and will map out what the UN is actually doing to fulfil the mandate, established by GA resolutions 60/1 and 60/251, to mainstream human rights.