November 20, 2006
In response to widespread disappointment with the inability of the UN Commission on Human Rights to address serious human rights violations around the world, Secretary General Kofi Annan presented a plan of action to abolish the Commission and replace it with a new reformed body, the UN Human Rights Council. According to the establishing resolution, passed after months of negotiation by the UN General Assembly in April 2006, the new body was tasked with "promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner," and should "address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon."
Halfway through the Council's inaugural year, the hopes that the institution would be a major improvement over its predecessor have not been realized. Fundamental questions about the new body's operations and political will to address the world's most egregious human rights abuses remain. While Freedom House notes that key processes determining the Council's future are still in formation, the track record is not promising. The Council's only concrete actions to date have been to call special sessions and pass one-sided resolutions censuring Israel.
This report assesses the work of the Council to date on a number of key issues, including the ability to take timely action on some of the most egregious human rights abuses in the world. The report also focuses on the actions of members of the UN Democracy Caucus and the U.S. government—both of which bear special responsibility for ensuring the Council's effectiveness.
Read the full report here.