The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the New United Nations Human Rights Council

30 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2009

See all articles by Paula Gerber

Paula Gerber

Monash University - Faculty of Law

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

Gerber, Paula, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the New United Nations Human Rights Council (February 19, 2009). 10 Flinders Journal of Law Refrm 241, Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2007/02, Available at SSRN:

Paula Gerber (Contact Author)

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics