United Nations Human Rights Council: Issues for Congress [July 18, 2011]   [open pdf - 300KB]

"On March 15, 2006, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution replacing the Commission on Human Rights with a new Human Rights Council (the Council). The U.N. Secretariat and some governments, including the United States, viewed the establishment of the Council as a key component of comprehensive U.N. reform. The Council was designed to be an improvement over the Commission, which was widely criticized for the composition of its membership when perceived human rights abusers were elected as members. The General Assembly resolution creating the Council, among other things, increased the number of meetings per year and introduced a 'universal periodic review' process to assess each member state's fulfillment of its human rights obligations. […] Since its establishment, the Council has held 17 regular sessions and 16 special sessions. The regular sessions addressed a combination of specific human rights abuses and procedural and structural issues. Six of the 16 special sessions addressed the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. Other special sessions focused on the human rights situations in Burma (Myanmar), Cote d'Ivoire, Darfur, Haiti, Libya, Sri Lanka, and Syria. The Council held a five-year review of its work in March 2011. Some participants--including the United States--felt the review did not sufficiently address the Council's weaknesses, particularly its focus on Israel and lack of mechanisms for ensuring credible membership."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33608
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