Alongside treaty-based mechanisms, the mechanisms established by the organs of the Charter of the United Nations constitute the second type of procedure for reviewing state action as regards respect for and protection of Human Rights. These mechanisms differ from conventional mechanisms by their more “political” character. The mechanisms instituted by the Charter organs include principally:

  • The Universal Periodic Review (established by the Human Rights Council)
  • The Human Rights Advisory Committee, which functions as a think tank and replaced the old Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
  • The revised 1503 procedure
  • The Special Procedures

The Human Rights Council

In response to the numerous criticisms of partiality and inefficiency leveled at the old Human Rights Commission, amidst a wave of optimism, the Human Rights Council (HRC) was established by the United Nations General Assembly in March 2006.

The Human Rights Council is the principal intergovernmental organ of the United Nations for dialogue on Human Rights protection. As a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, its role is to encourage respect for the obligations undertaken by states and, to that end, promote an efficient coordination of the activities of the United Nations system.

The primary objective of the Council is to examine Human Rights violations, particularly those of a gross and systematic nature, and to make recommendations thereon.

The Council is made up of the representatives of 47 states, elected directly and individually, using a secret ballot, by a majority of the members of the General Assembly. Council members are elected for a three-year term, and they sit in Geneva and meet at least three times per year.

Observers may participate in the work of the Council and be consulted, including states which are not members of the Council, special agencies, other intergovernmental organisations, national Human Rights institutions, and non-governmental organisations.