Kicking off new review regimes, Human Rights Council nears end of session

28 March 2008

Having initiated the first periodic review of the human rights performance of all States and established rapporteurs on groundbreaking new rights topics, the seventh session of the United Nations Human Rights Council finished the bulk of its work today in Geneva.

The session, which was opened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 3 March, did not conclude formally today as expected, but instead decided to continue for one more half-day session to be held next week, to finish hearing statements from delegations and to adopt its report to the General Assembly.

Among the major accomplishments of the session was the inauguration of the first Universal Periodic Review, under which all UN Member States will be examined to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligation, at the rate of 48 a year.

In addition, 11 special rapporteurs were nominated, including an independent expert with a new mandate to cover rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Among other achievements, the 47-member Council elected the 18 members of its Advisory Committee, which will hold its first session from 4 to 15 August.

The Committee’s experts will function as a think-tank for the Council, which was created in 2006 to replace the Human Rights Commission as part of ongoing UN reform.

At the Council’s eighth session, which will take place from 2 to 13 June, the Council will examine the first report of its working group on the Universal Periodic Review, which will start its work on individual countries on 7 April.

Speaking to reporters today, Council President Doru Costea said he was “rather optimistic” about the start of the Universal Review. However, he cautioned: “The proof of the pudding is in eating eat it.”

 

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