United Nations Human Rights Council: Issues for Congress [April 30, 2013]   [open pdf - 361KB]

"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 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 modified voting procedures, 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, among other things. [….] Since its establishment, the Council has held 22 regular sessions and 19 special sessions. The regular sessions addressed a combination of specific human rights abuses and procedural and structural issues. Six of the 19 special sessions addressed the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. Four of the special sessions focused on Syria, while others addressed Burma (Myanmar), Cote d'Ivoire, Darfur, Haiti, Libya, and Sri Lanka. 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. Congress maintains an ongoing interest in the credibility and effectiveness of the Council in the context of both human rights and broader U.N. reform."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33608
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