UN Human Rights Council urged to keep system of independent experts

UN Human Rights Council urged to keep system of independent experts

Louise Arbour
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today urged the Human Rights Council to maintain its system of independent experts and others who shine a spotlight on troubling situations around the world.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today urged the Human Rights Council to maintain its system of independent experts and others who shine a spotlight on troubling situations around the world.

Louise Arbour told the Council, meeting in Geneva for the start of its fifth session, that the special procedures system – or the mechanisms, from rapporteurs and experts to working groups, which the Council can use to explore either specific country situations or thematic issues – “represents a critical component in the protection and promotion of human rights.”

She also underscored the importance of the system known as “universal periodic review,” which allows the Council to scrutinize the human rights records of all countries in a regular, rotating manner, predicting it “will develop into a leading instrument” for upholding human rights.

“Reaching an agreement on its framework was not an easy task, but the Council is set to achieve that goal,” she said, urging members to “bring your institution-building efforts to completion.”

The General Assembly resolution that set up the Council last year to replace the discredited Commission on Human Rights agreed that the universal periodic review mechanism must be created by June this year and the special procedures system – kept on from the Commission – must undergo a review during the same period.

Over the course of its current session, Council members will hear from a number of its special rapporteurs and independent experts on country-specific situations and thematic issues, including Belarus, Cambodia, Somalia, adequate housing, judicial independence and the right to food. In addition, the Council’s Expert Group on Darfur is expected to present its report.