GA resolution 60/251 establishing the Human Rights Council and setting out its mandate recognises the primary responsibility of States to promote and protect human rights.
However, the General Assembly also recognised that the Council and the wider UN have an important role to play in ‘strengthening the capacity of Member States to comply with their human rights obligations for the benefit of all human beings.’ With paragraph 5a of resolution 60/251, the General Assembly therefore decided that the Council should promote ‘advisory services, technical assistance and capacity-building, to be provided in consultation with and with the consent of Member States concerned.’ This mandate is the basis of the Council’s work under agenda item 10 ‘Technical assistance and capacity-building.’
Although this is the last of the Council’s ten agenda items, it is unarguably one of the most important, crucial to the body’s credibility and utility, especially for developing country delegations, and for its effectiveness – its ability to strengthen the enjoyment of human rights around the world and make a real difference to the lives of rights-holders. Yet the Council’s work under agenda item 10 is without doubt a ‘diamond in the rough’ – and one very much in need of polishing. In essence, the Council’s approach to item 10 since 2006 has involved passing resolutions on a limited number of States, usually States that have experienced a natural disaster or a civil war, that express concern and establish or renew Independent Expert mandates. These experts visit the country
concerned to assess the situation and identify capacity-building needs, and then report back to the Council. Yet they do not, and never have, actually provide capacity-building support, nor do they mobilise such support.
The present policy brief provides thoughts on how the Council might strengthen the delivery of domestic capacity-building support in the future – how it might ‘reset and revitalize item 10.’
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