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About the Human Rights Council




What is the United Nations Human Rights Council?

Created in 2006 to replace the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Council is the foremost international body for the promotion and protection of human rights and can be used to bring substantial pressure on governments to take steps to implement human rights norms. The Human Rights Council comprises governments of countries that are members of the United Nations (UN Member States) and is an important venue to develop and advance sexual rights as a critical part of the international human rights framework.

To learn more about the Human Rights Council watch this video produced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

How does the Human Rights Council work?

The Human Rights Council comprises governments of countries that are members of the United Nations and is mandated to strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights by:

  • Debating and passing resolutions on global human rights issues and human rights situations in particular countries
  • Examining complaints from victims of human rights violations or non-governmental organizations on behalf of victims of human rights violations
  • Appointing Special Procedures (i.e. independent experts, special rapporteurs and working groups) to review human rights violations in specific countries and examine global human rights issues
  • Engaging in discussions with experts and governments on human rights issues
  • Assessing the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States every four and a half years through the Universal Periodic Review.

The Human Rights Council meets three times a year for regular sessions in March, June and September.


Who are members of the Human Rights Council?

47 countries are elected to the Human Rights Council for a term of three years and no country may serve more than two consecutive terms. Each region of the world is allocated a certain number of seats to ensure equal representation in the Human Rights Council’s membership. For a list of the current members click here »

Although there are only 47 voting members of the Human Rights Council, all 193 UN Member States are entitled to observe and participate (except for voting on resolutions) in the work of the Council, including the Universal Periodic Review.




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