Frontpage > Human Rights > UN Mechanisms and Processes > UN Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council

On March 15, 2006, United Nations Member States approved the establishment of a new Human Rights Council to replace the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights, which had come under fire for excessive politicization. The Council held its first session in Geneva from June 19-30, 2006. In this first session of the council, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted.

Download the official report from the first session - includes the adopted Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Institution building in 2006 and 2007

The first year of the new Human Rights Council was largely dedicated to negotiations on the Council's institution building.

With the conclusion of the Council's 5th session in June 2007, the basic structure for the Council's new institutional machinery is in place, including:

a. The Universal Periodic Review Mechanism
b. The Special Procedures (Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups)
c. The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee (which replaces the Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights)
d. The Complaint Procedure.

The Universal Periodic Review mechanism is one of the most significant innovations in this new Human Rights Council. Under this system, for the first time, the human rights records of all UN Member States will be regularly examined through a common mechanism. Indigenous peoples expect that this new mechanism will pay special attention to indigenous peoples' human rights situation. There are also two other mechanisms that are especially mandated to deal with the promotion and the protection of indigenous peoples rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rights (Special Procedures) and the Expert Mechanism on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Advisory Body).

Read the UN Press Release on the conclusion of the 5th session

For more information about the Council, its sessions, official reports, the process leading to the establishment of the Council visit the website.