The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the New United Nations Human Rights Council
10 Flinders Journal of Law Refrm 241
30 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2009
Date Written: February 19, 2009
The United Nations established the Commission on Human Rights in 1946, to protect and promote human rights but, the history of the last 60 years, demonstrates all too clearly that this body has failed in its aims. Words like 'Rwanda', 'Darfur', 'Srebrenica', 'Abu Ghraib', and 'Pinochet' immediatelty evoke images of grave human rights abuses that the Commission failed to respond to. It was the Commission's failures which motivated the UN General Assembly to pass a historic resolution on 15 March 2006, dismantling the Commission and replacing it with a new body - the Human Rights Council. This abolition of the Commission and creation of the Council is, without doubt, one of the most significant reforms regarding the way in which human rights are promoted and protected, within the history of the UN.
This article considers why there was a need for such dramatic change and, the exact nature and extent of the change. It provides an overview of the reforms by examining five specific aspects of the Commission that were widely criticised, namely: its membership and size; the complaint processes; the abuse of the no-action procedure; the role of non-governmental organisations; and the operation of special procedures.
Keywords: Human Rights Council, United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, human rights, international law
JEL Classification: K0, K00, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation