Helsinki Committee for Human Rights









United Nations Human Rights Council

The UNHRC investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states, and addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women's rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.

The General Assembly can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership. The suspension process requires a two-thirds majority vote by the General Assembly. The resolution establishing the UNHRC states that "when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto", and that "members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights".

The General Assembly resolution establishing the Council, provided that "the Council shall review its work and functioning five years after its establishment”. The main work of the review was undertaken in an Intergovernmental Working Group established by the Council in its Resolution 12/1 of October 1, 2009 The review was finalized in March 2011, by the adoption of an "Outcome" at the Council's sixteenth session, annexed to Resolution 16/21.

The Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights was the main subsidiary body of the CHR. The Sub-Commission was composed of 26 elected human rights experts whose mandate was to conduct studies on discriminatory practices and to make recommendations to ensure that racial, national, religious, and linguistic minorities are protected by law.

The Chairman of the WGC screens complaints for admissibility. A complaint must be in writing, and cannot be anonymous. Examples provided by the UNHRC of cases that would be considered consistent patterns of gross human rights violations include alleged deterioration of human rights of people belonging to a minority, including forced evictions, racial segregation and substandard living conditions, alleged degrading situation of prison conditions for both detainees and prison workers, resulting in violence and death of inmates. Individuals, groups or non-governmental organizations can claim to be victims of humans rights violations or that have direct, reliable knowledge of such violations. Complaints by a single victim of a single incident that alleges violation of their human rights will not be accepted.

The interaction with the complainant and the UNHRC during the complaints procedure will be on an as needed basis. UNHRC Resolution 5/1, paragraph 86, emphasizes that the procedure is victims-oriented. Paragraph 106 provides that the complaint procedure shall ensure that complainants are informed of the proceedings at the key stages. The WGC may request further information from complainants or a third party.

On the UNHRC website under the complaints procedure section there is a list of situations referred to the UNHRC under the complaint procedure since 2006. This was only available to the public as of 2014, however generally does not give any details regarding the situations that were under consideration other than the state that was involved.

History shows that the procedure works almost in a petition like way; if enough complaints are received then the UNHRC is very likely to assign a special rapporteur to the state or to the issue at hand. It has been said that an advantage of the procedure is the confidential manner, which offers the ability to engage with the state concerned through a more [diplomatic] process, which can produce better results than a more adversarial process of public accusation.

Applicants for Special Procedures mandates are reviewed by a Consultative Group of five countries, one from each region. Following interviews by the Consultative Group, the Group provides a shortlist of candidates to the UNHRC President. Following consultations with the leadership of each regional grouping, the President presents a single candidate to be approved by the Member states of the UNHRC at the session following a new mandate's creation or on the expiration of the term of an existing mandate holder.















November 2, 2011

10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Please join the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe for a hearing that explores the nexus between Transnational Organized Crime and Human Trafficking.

Organized Crime has evolved to meet the challenges of globalization and modern technology. In this evolution major international criminal organizations and smaller highly specialized groups of criminal entrepreneurs have found new ways to expand their operations and exploit human beings into slavery. To meet these challenges new national and international strategies have been placed into action, but their results remain to be seen. This continues the Helsinki Commission’s hearing series on new fronts in human trafficking. This hearing will focus on: (1) the evolving nature of Transnational Organized Crime, (2) the role of major international organized crime groups and smaller organized criminal syndicates in human trafficking, (3) identified trends, and (4) strategies to combat these organizations and prevent the trafficking of human beings.
















Copyright * Helsinki Committee for Human Rights 2011