Review of Human Rights Council to begin
Saturday, 23 October 2010 15:25


The Working Group established to review the work and functioning of the Human Rights Council will meet for the first time from 25 to 29 October. The working group was set up in October 2009 and its first session is the start of the formal review process that the General Assembly has requested the Council to undertake five years after it was established. There have been many informal discussions already and the outcome documents from those debates are available here.


After lengthy negotiations on the format and modalities for the review process, the President has been able to get agreement on a programme of work for the first session of the Working Group. The programme will allow for a broad assessment of the Council's performance and a more in-depth examination of the work of its different mechanisms, including the special procedures, the universal periodic review, the Advisory Committee and the complaint procedure. Much of the Working Group's session is dedicated to discussing concrete proposals on how to improve the Council's functioning. This is a welcome initiative by the President of the Council, which regrettably has met resistance from some States that generally prefer to see no major changes resulting from the review process. These States have spoken of the need to preserve the current institutional framework and only fine-tune it (Egypt on behalf of NAM, China, Pakistan, Philippines, India).


The President's invitation to all stakeholders to submit written input to the Working Group's session has been taken up by many States, NGOs, national human rights institutions and the Council's mechanisms. Their submissions are available on the OHCHR extranet and contain a large number of ideas and concrete proposals. Some of these recommendations would clearly enhance the Council's effectiveness while others seem to be aimed at restricting its work.


At an informal meeting on 19 October, the President outlined his vision for the conduct of the review process. At the end of the Working Group session he intends to appoint facilitators for the main topics that will require extensive discussions. There is currently no indication of who he intends to appoint. The President will host a retreat in Bangkok from 8 to 10 December to identify the issues on which agreement can be reached and those that will require further negotiation. He proudly noted that this would be the first time that the Council meets outside Geneva. It was not clear that civil society would be invited to the retreat and some speakers underlined the need for the review process to be fully inclusive. In fact, if civil society is excluded this would be the only meeting on the review other than the Algiers retreat where civil society would not have been invited.


The second session of the Working Group will now take place in early February  2011 and not late January as previously announced. However, the dates for the second session are still to be confirmed. The President is hopeful that the review process can be completed in March 2011 with a decision of the Council that could take the form of an addendum to the institution-building package contained in Council Resolution 5/1.


ISHR will provide updates on the discussions in the Working Group during the week. For more background on the review process please click here.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 February 2011 09:49
© by The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 2019