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Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council (HRC) was appointed by the UN General Assembly to replace the Commission on Human Rights in 2006, and is the part of the UN system that is responsible for the strengthening, promotion, and protection of human rights worldwide. 

Three times a year, in March, June, and September, the HRC meets for 3-4 weeks in Geneva, Switzerland to review the status of human rights in countries around the world, to address human rights violations, and to make recommendations to improve the fulfilment of human rights.

All 193 UN Member States, UN ‘Permanent Observers’, and civil society may attend these regular sessions, but only the 47 States that are elected to be members of the HRC at any one time may ‘table’ (propose) resolutions and vote to adopt them. These resolutions serve as a guidance for the international community on how to tackle human rights issues, can contribute to greater international awareness of human rights problems, can increase international support for policy and legal change, can result in the creation of a new Special Procedures mandate (e.g. a new Special Rapporteur), and can increase the pressure on States to implement concrete policy or legal reforms.

Council members are elected to staggered three-year terms, with seats allocated geographically with each region nominating candidate countries that are then approved by the General Assembly. The Council may also meet for additional ‘special sessions’ if an urgent human rights situation arises.

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