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Your guide to UN and UN documents and reports

Human Rights Council

With a clear majority, after months of intensive negotiations, the General Assembly took an historic step by adopting a resolution establishing the United Nations Human Rights Council on March 15 2006. The Human Rights Council replaced the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

The Council is based in Geneva, where its first session was held on June 19 2006.

Members of the Human Rights Council

The Member States are elected by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly members present and voting. The Human Rights Council consists of 47 Member States elected for a period of three years. The General Assembly has the possibility to suspend any Member State violating human rights. The Member States represent all regions of the world. All Member States have made pledges and commitments to human rights which they are expected to live up to.

Work of the Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council holds regular sessions three times a year. It will also be able to convene to deal with urgent situations.

Universal Periodic Review

The peer review function, the Universal Periodic Review - UPR, is essential to the Human Rights Council. Its main task is to evaluate the fullfilment of all states of all their human rights and obligations.

Country mandates and Thematic mandates

The Human Rights Council also works with the UN Special Procedures established by the former Commission on Human Rights and now assumed by the Council. These are made up of special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts and working groups that monitor, examine, advise and publicly report on thematic issues or human rights situations in specific countries.

The complaint procedure

2007, the Human Rights Council established a new complaint procedure to address consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested violations of all human rights and all fundamental freedoms.

The complaint procedure addresses communications submitted by individuals, groups, or non-governmental organizations that claim to be victims of human rights violations or that have direct, reliable knowledge of such violations.

More on Human Righst Council

The individual documents from the Human Rights Council carry the following symbols

A/ General Assembly

-/HRC Human Rights Council

-/session number

-/current number

Ex. A/HRC/1/L.1 General Assembly, Human Rights Council, 1st session, document 1 L=limited distribution

Human rights, conventions and declarations

UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases

  • United Nations Digital Library. UN official documents and open access publications, UN maps, UN voting data and speeches.
  • UN iLibrary. UN publications online covering different topics.
  • ODS. UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
  • Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
  • UNBIS Thesaurus is a multilingual database of the controlled vocabulary used to describe UN documents.
  • Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
    • a list of all documents
    • a comprehensive subject index
    • an index to speeches
    • a voting chart of resolutions


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