Health of the Special Procedure system moves to the centre of the Council’s agenda

by the URG team Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

For the first time since the Council’s five-year review in 2011, the 26th session of the Human Rights Council that ended on 27th June saw the health and impact of the Special Procedures mechanism move to the centre of the political stage. States could not resist continuing to add new Special Procedure mandates – the 26th session saw members create a 51st active …

Special Procedure implementation and follow-up: making it real

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

One of the clearest conclusions drawn from the joint URG-Brookings Institution research project on the effectiveness and the future of Special Procedures was that, despite regular reform efforts over the past two decades, follow-up on the implementation of recommendations made by Special Procedures remains ‘negligible’. In interviews conducted for the URG-Brookings Policy Report, numerous mandate-holders acknowledged that ‘follow-up on implementation remains one of our weakest links’. Why is this the case? A sceptic could …

Living up to our own standards?

by H.E. Ambassador Hanns Heinrich Schumacher, Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

The United Nations Human Rights Council emerged in response to the failures of the former Commission on Human Rights to effectively implement the rich normative framework of human rights standards that most members of the international community have committed themselves to. Our human rights architecture in 2014 appears to be both solid and comprehensive: The Universal Declaration on Human Rights …

Giving Small States a Level Playing Field at the Human Rights Council

by H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

The principle of sovereign equality of States, enshrined in the UN Charter, recognises that all States are equal irrespective of their size, wealth, population or strength. Article 4 of General Assembly resolution 60/251, establishing the Human Rights Council, makes clear that the work of the Council shall be guided by ‘the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive international …

Human rights norms: it’s the implementation, stupid

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

The development of international human rights norms has been one of the great success stories of the UN. The first major achievement was the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948 – “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”. Building on this first step, the UN went …

Special Procedures mandate-holders: the new intake

by the URG team Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

After weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the member states of the Human Rights Council yesterday moved to appoint 17 new Special Procedure mandate-holders. This was a critical moment for the Special Procedure mechanism, the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the international human rights system, because the mechanism’s effectiveness is heavily reliant on the quality, expertise and reputation of those individuals who …

UN General Assembly Concludes its Review of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies

by Christen Broecker Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

The United Nations General Assembly today (9th April) completed a two-year review of a key part of the UN’s human rights architecture: the human rights treaty bodies. The review occurred in the context of and built on ideas generated from a broader effort by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to ‘strengthen’ the treaty bodies. The outcome of the …

Building the ‘Cooperative Council’: Recalling the Universal Spirit of 1946-48

by Professor Susan Waltz Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

Many observers are expecting the 25th session of the Human Rights Council, which opened this week, to be a particularly bumpy ride. The combination of latent ill-feeling leftover from the General Assembly’s 2013 decision to only partially accept the Council’s annual report, significant changes to the Council’s composition, and the presence of a number of difficult and sensitive issues on …

The UN General Assembly and the Strengthening of the United Nations Human Rights Treaty Body System

by Professor Michael O'Flaherty International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

On 11th February, the 3rd Committee of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on “strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system”. Although the matter still needs to be considered by those who control the purse strings in the General Assembly’s 5th Committee, the resolution’s adoption can be said to mark a defining …

General Assembly

The Emerging Struggle over the Council’s Prerogatives

by Marc Limon & Toby Lamarque Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

It seemed innocuous enough. In December last year, the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee adopted a short resolution taking note, as per normal practice, of the annual report of the Human Rights Council, but deferring consideration of one particular Council resolution ‘in order to allow time for further consultations thereon’. This additional wording, which was subsequently endorsed by the General …