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 …

The environment is the new battleground for human rights – we must protect those on the frontline

by Oliver Courtney Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Imagine waking up one morning to be told by a man from the government that new laws mean the street your family has lived on for generations is being sold to developers. Your land is to be ‘converted’ into flats in the name of national economic development; bulldozers will soon be moving in to flatten your house and rip up …

The emerging law of environmental human rights is clearer than ever before

by Professor John Knox, Independent Expert on human rights and the environment Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On the last day of its 25th session in March 2014, the Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a historic resolution on human rights and the environment. For the first time, the Council explicitly recognised that ‘human rights law sets out certain obligations on states which are relevant to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.’ This …

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 …

Mr Baudelaire Ndong Ella

The President of the Human Rights Council looks ahead to 2014

by H.E. Mr. Baudelaire Ndong Ella, President of the Human Rights Council and Permanent Representative of Gabon to the United Nations Office at Geneva Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

2014 will be another important and eventful year for the Human Rights Council. Seen against the long history of human rights at the United Nations, the Council is still a young body, and yet it has achieved a remarkable amount in its relatively short life. Everyone who has contributed to the body’s work since 2006, whether representatives of States, NGOs, independent …