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Resolution 51 - Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

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Resolution 51 - Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

    Human Rights Council

    5/1. Institution-building of the United Nations Human Rights Council

     The Human Rights Council,

     Acting in compliance with the mandate entrusted to it by the United Nations General Assembly in resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006,

     Having considered the draft text on institution-building submitted by the President of

    the Council,

     1. Adopts the draft text entitled “United Nations Human Rights Council: Institution-Building”, as contained in the annex to the present resolution, including its appendix(ces);

     2. Decides to submit the following draft resolution to the General Assembly for

    its adoption as a matter of priority in order to facilitate the timely implementation of the text

    contained thereafter:

     The General Assembly,

     Taking note of Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007,

     “1. Welcomes the text entitled „United Nations Human Rights Council: Institution-Building‟, as

    contained in the annex to the present resolution, including its appendix(ces).”

    9th meeting

    18 June 2007

    1[Resolution adopted without a vote.]

    Annex

    UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: INSTITUTION-BUILDING

    I. UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW MECHANISM

    A. Basis of the review

    1. The basis of the review is:

     (a) The Charter of the United Nations;

     (b) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

     (c) Human rights instruments to which a State is party;

     1 See A/HRC/5/21, chap. III, paras. 60-62.

     (d) Voluntary pledges and commitments made by States, including those undertaken when presenting their candidatures for election to the Human Rights Council (hereinafter “the Council”).

    2. In addition to the above and given the complementary and mutually interrelated nature of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, the review shall take into account applicable international humanitarian law.

    B. Principles and objectives

    1. Principles

    3. The universal periodic review should:

     (a) Promote the universality, interdependence, indivisibility and interrelatedness of all human rights;

     (b) Be a cooperative mechanism based on objective and reliable information and on interactive dialogue;

     (c) Ensure universal coverage and equal treatment of all States;

     (d) Be an intergovernmental process, United Nations Member-driven and action-oriented;

     (e) Fully involve the country under review;

     (f) Complement and not duplicate other human rights mechanisms, thus representing an added value;

     (g) Be conducted in an objective, transparent, non-selective, constructive, non-confrontational and non-politicized manner;

     (h) Not be overly burdensome to the concerned State or to the agenda of the Council;

     (i) Not be overly long; it should be realistic and not absorb a disproportionate amount of time, human and financial resources;

     (j) Not diminish the Council‟s capacity to respond to urgent human rights situations;

     (k) Fully integrate a gender perspective;

     (l) Without prejudice to the obligations contained in the elements provided for in the basis of review, take into account the level of development and specificities of countries;

     (m) Ensure the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006 and Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 of 25 July 1996, as well as any decisions that the Council may take in this regard.

    2. Objectives

    4. The objectives of the review are:

     (a) The improvement of the human rights situation on the ground;

     (b) The fulfilment of the State‟s human rights obligations and commitments and assessment of positive developments and challenges faced by the State;

     (c) The enhancement of the State‟s capacity and of technical assistance, in consultation with, and

    with the consent of, the State concerned;

     (d) The sharing of best practice among States and other stakeholders;

     (e) Support for cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights;

     (f) The encouragement of full cooperation and engagement with the Council, other human rights bodies and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    C. Periodicity and order of the review

    5. The review begins after the adoption of the universal periodic review mechanism by the Council.

    6. The order of review should reflect the principles of universality and equal treatment. 7. The order of the review should be established as soon as possible in order to allow States to prepare adequately.

    8. All member States of the Council shall be reviewed during their term of membership. 9. The initial members of the Council, especially those elected for one or two-year terms, should be reviewed first.

    10. A mix of member and observer States of the Council should be reviewed.

    11. Equitable geographic distribution should be respected in the selection of countries for review. 12. The first member and observer States to be reviewed will be chosen by the drawing of lots from each Regional Group in such a way as to ensure full respect for equitable geographic distribution. Alphabetical order will then be applied beginning with those countries thus selected, unless other countries volunteer to be

     reviewed.

    13. The period between review cycles should be reasonable so as to take into account the capacity of States to prepare for, and the capacity of other stakeholders to respond to, the requests arising from the review. 14. The periodicity of the review for the first cycle will be of four years. This will imply the consideration aof 48 States per year during three sessions of the working group of two weeks each.

    D. Process and modalities of the review

    1. Documentation

    15. The documents on which the review would be based are:

     (a) Information prepared by the State concerned, which can take the form of a national report, on the basis of general guidelines to be adopted by the Council at its sixth session (first session of the second cycle), and any other information considered relevant by the State concerned, which could be presented either orally or in writing, provided that the written presentation summarizing the information will not exceed 20 pages, to guarantee equal treatment to all States and not to overburden the mechanism. States are encouraged to prepare the information through a broad consultation process at the national level with all relevant stakeholders;

     (b) Additionally a compilation prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the information contained in the reports of treaty bodies, special procedures, including observations and comments by the State concerned, and other relevant official United Nations documents, which shall not exceed 10 pages;

     a The universal periodic review is an evolving process; the Council, after the conclusion of the first review cycle, may review the modalities and the periodicity of this mechanism, based on best practices and lessons learned.

     (c) Additional, credible and reliable information provided by other relevant stakeholders to the universal periodic review which should also be taken into consideration by the Council in the review. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will prepare a summary of such information which shall not exceed 10 pages.

    16. The documents prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should be elaborated following the structure of the general guidelines adopted by the Council regarding the information prepared by the State concerned.

    17. Both the State‟s written presentation and the summaries prepared by the Office of the High

    Commissioner for Human Rights shall be ready six weeks prior to the review by the working group to ensure the distribution of documents simultaneously in the six official languages of the United Nations, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 53/208 of 14 January 1999.

    2. Modalities

    18. The modalities of the review shall be as follows:

     (a) The review will be conducted in one working group, chaired by the President of the Council and composed of the 47 member States of the Council. Each member State will decide on the composition of its bdelegation;

     (b) Observer States may participate in the review, including in the interactive dialogue;

     (c) Other relevant stakeholders may attend the review in the Working Group;

     (d) A group of three rapporteurs, selected by the drawing of lots among the members of the Council and from different Regional Groups (troika) will be formed to facilitate each review, including the

    preparation of the report of the working group. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will provide the necessary assistance and expertise to the rapporteurs.

    19. The country concerned may request that one of the rapporteurs be from its own Regional Group and may also request the substitution of a rapporteur on only one occasion.

    20. A rapporteur may request to be excused from participation in a specific review process. 21. Interactive dialogue between the country under review and the Council will take place in the working group. The rapporteurs may collate issues or questions to be transmitted to the State under review to facilitate its preparation and focus the interactive dialogue, while guaranteeing fairness and transparency.

    22. The duration of the review will be three hours for each country in the working group. Additional time of up to one hour will be allocated for the consideration of the outcome by the plenary of the Council.

    23. Half an hour will be allocated for the adoption of the report of each country under review in the working group.

    24. A reasonable time frame should be allocated between the review and the adoption of the report of each State in the working group.

    25. The final outcome will be adopted by the plenary of the Council.

     b A Universal Periodic Review Voluntary Trust Fund should be established to facilitate the participation of developing countries, particularly the Least Developed Countries, in the universal periodic review mechanism.

    E. Outcome of the review

    1. Format of the outcome

    26. The format of the outcome of the review will be a report consisting of a summary of the proceedings of the review process; conclusions and/or recommendations, and the voluntary commitments of the State concerned.

    2. Content of the outcome

    27. The universal periodic review is a cooperative mechanism. Its outcome may include, inter alia:

     (a) An assessment undertaken in an objective and transparent manner of the human rights situation in the country under review, including positive developments and the challenges faced by the country;

     (b) Sharing of best practices;

     (c) An emphasis on enhancing cooperation for the promotion and protection of human rights;

     (d) The provision of technical assistance and capacity-building in consultation with, and with the cconsent of, the country concerned;

     (e) Voluntary commitments and pledges made by the country under review.

    3. Adoption of the outcome

    28. The country under review should be fully involved in the outcome.

    29. Before the adoption of the outcome by the plenary of the Council, the State concerned should be offered the opportunity to present replies to questions or issues that were not sufficiently addressed during the interactive dialogue.

    30. The State concerned and the member States of the Council, as well as observer States, will be given the opportunity to express their views on the outcome of the review before the plenary takes action on it.

    31. Other relevant stakeholders will have the opportunity to make general comments before the adoption of the outcome by the plenary.

    32. Recommendations that enjoy the support of the State concerned will be identified as such. Other recommendations, together with the comments of the State concerned thereon, will be noted. Both will be included in the outcome report to be adopted by the Council.

    F. Follow-up to the review

    33. The outcome of the universal periodic review, as a cooperative mechanism, should be implemented primarily by the State concerned and, as appropriate, by other relevant stakeholders. 34. The subsequent review should focus, inter alia, on the implementation of the preceding outcome. 35. The Council should have a standing item on its agenda devoted to the universal periodic review.

    36. The international community will assist in implementing the recommendations and conclusions regarding capacity-building and technical assistance, in consultation with, and with the consent of, the country concerned.

     c A decision should be taken by the Council on whether to resort to existing financing mechanisms or to create a new mechanism.

    37. In considering the outcome of the universal periodic review, the Council will decide if and when any specific follow-up is necessary.

    38. After exhausting all efforts to encourage a State to cooperate with the universal periodic review mechanism, the Council will address, as appropriate, cases of persistent non-cooperation with the mechanism.

    II. SPECIAL PROCEDURES

    A. Selection and appointment of mandate-holders

    39. The following general criteria will be of paramount importance while nominating, selecting and appointing mandate-holders: (a) expertise; (b) experience in the field of the mandate; (c) independence; (d) impartiality; (e) personal integrity; and (f) objectivity.

    40. Due consideration should be given to gender balance and equitable geographic representation, as well as to an appropriate representation of different legal systems.

    41. Technical and objective requirements for eligible candidates for mandate-holders will be approved by the Council at its sixth session (first session of the second cycle), in order to ensure that eligible candidates are highly qualified individuals who possess established competence, relevant expertise and extensive professional experience in the field of human rights.

    42. The following entities may nominate candidates as special procedures mandate-holders: (a) Governments; (b) Regional Groups operating within the United Nations human rights system; (c) international organizations or their offices (e.g. the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights); (d) non-governmental organizations; (e) other human rights bodies; (f) individual nominations.

    43. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights shall immediately prepare, maintain and periodically update a public list of eligible candidates in a standardized format, which shall include personal data, areas of expertise and professional experience. Upcoming vacancies of mandates shall be publicized.

    44. The principle of non-accumulation of human rights functions at a time shall be respected. 45. A mandate-holder‟s tenure in a given function, whether a thematic or country mandate, will be no

    longer than six years (two terms of three years for thematic mandate-holders).

    46. Individuals holding decision-making positions in Government or in any other organization or entity which may give rise to a conflict of interest with the responsibilities inherent to the mandate shall be excluded. Mandate-holders will act in their personal capacity.

    47. A consultative group would be established to propose to the President, at least one month before the beginning of the session in which the Council would consider the selection of mandate-holders, a list of

    candidates who possess the highest qualifications for the mandates in question and meet the general criteria and particular requirements.

    48. The consultative group shall also give due consideration to the exclusion of nominated candidates from the public list of eligible candidates brought to its attention.

    49. At the beginning of the annual cycle of the Council, Regional Groups would be invited to appoint a member of the consultative group, who would serve in his/her personal capacity. The Group will be assisted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    50. The consultative group will consider candidates included in the public list; however, under exceptional circumstances and if a particular post justifies it, the Group may consider additional nominations with equal or more suitable qualifications for the post. Recommendations to the President shall be public and substantiated.

    51. The consultative group should take into account, as appropriate, the views of stakeholders, including the current or outgoing mandate-holders, in determining the necessary expertise, experience, skills, and other relevant requirements for each mandate.

    52. On the basis of the recommendations of the consultative group and following broad consultations, in particular through the regional coordinators, the President of the Council will identify an appropriate candidate for each vacancy. The President will present to member States and observers a list of candidates to be proposed at least two weeks prior to the beginning of the session in which the Council will consider the appointments. 53. If necessary, the President will conduct further consultations to ensure the endorsement of the proposed candidates. The appointment of the special procedures mandate-holders will be completed upon the subsequent approval of the Council. Mandate-holders shall be appointed before the end of the session.

    B. Review, rationalization and improvement of mandates

    54. The review, rationalization and improvement of mandates, as well as the creation of new ones, must be guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive international dialogue and cooperation, with a view to enhancing the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.

    55. The review, rationalization and improvement of each mandate would take place in the context of the negotiations of the relevant resolutions. An assessment of the mandate may take place in a separate segment of the interactive dialogue between the Council and special procedures mandate-holders.

    56. The review, rationalization and improvement of mandates would focus on the relevance, scope and contents of the mandates, having as a framework the internationally recognized human rights standards, the system of special procedures and General Assembly resolution 60/251.

    57. Any decision to streamline, merge or possibly discontinue mandates should always be guided by the need for improvement of the enjoyment and protection of human rights.

    58. The Council should always strive for improvements:

     (a) Mandates should always offer a clear prospect of an increased level of human rights protection and promotion as well as being coherent within the system of human rights;

     (b) Equal attention should be paid to all human rights. The balance of thematic mandates should broadly reflect the accepted equal importance of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development;

     (c) Every effort should be made to avoid unnecessary duplication;

     (d) Areas which constitute thematic gaps will be identified and addressed, including by means other than the creation of special procedures mandates, such as by expanding an existing mandate, bringing a cross-cutting issue to the attention of mandate-holders or by requesting a joint action to the relevant mandate-holders;

     (e) Any consideration of merging mandates should have regard to the content and predominant functions of each mandate, as well as to the workload of individual mandate-holders;

     (f) In creating or reviewing mandates, efforts should be made to identify whether the structure of the mechanism (expert, rapporteur or working group) is the most effective in terms of increasing human rights protection;

     (g) New mandates should be as clear and specific as possible, so as to avoid ambiguity. 59. It should be considered desirable to have a uniform nomenclature of mandate-holders, titles of mandates as well as a selection and appointment process, to make the whole system more understandable.

    60. Thematic mandate periods will be of three years. Country mandate periods will be of one year.

61. Mandates included in Appendix I, where applicable, will be renewed until the date on which they are dconsidered by the Council according to the programme of work.

    62. Current mandate-holders may continue serving, provided they have not exceeded the six-year term limit (Appendix II). On an exceptional basis, the term of those mandate-holders who have served more than six years may be extended until the relevant mandate is considered by the Council and the selection and appointment process has concluded.

    63. Decisions to create, review or discontinue country mandates should also take into account the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue aimed at strengthening the capacity of Member States to comply with their human rights obligations.

    64. In case of situations of violations of human rights or a lack of cooperation that require the Council‟s attention, the principles of objectivity, non-selectivity, and the elimination of double standards and politicization should apply.

    III. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADVISORY COMMITTEE

    65. The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee (hereinafter “the Advisory Committee”), composed of 18 experts serving in their personal capacity, will function as a think-tank for the Council and work at its direction. The establishment of this subsidiary body and its functioning will be executed according to the guidelines stipulated below.

    A. Nomination

    66. All Member States of the United Nations may propose or endorse candidates from their own region. When selecting their candidates, States should consult their national human rights institutions and civil society organizations and, in this regard, include the names of those supporting their candidates. 67. The aim is to ensure that the best possible expertise is made available to the Council. For this purpose, technical and objective requirements for the submission of candidatures will be established and approved by the Council at its sixth session (first session of the second cycle). These should include:

     (a) Recognized competence and experience in the field of human rights;

     (b) High moral standing;

     (c) Independence and impartiality.

    68. Individuals holding decision-making positions in Government or in any other organization or entity which might give rise to a conflict of interest with the responsibilities inherent in the mandate shall be excluded. Elected members of the Committee will act in their personal capacity.

    69. The principle of non-accumulation of human rights functions at the same time shall be respected.

    B. Election

    70. The Council shall elect the members of the Advisory Committee, in secret ballot, from the list of candidates whose names have been presented in accordance with the agreed requirements.

     d Country mandates meet the following criteria:

    ; There is a pending mandate of the Council to be accomplished; or

    ; There is a pending mandate of the General Assembly to be accomplished; or

    ; The nature of the mandate is for advisory services and technical assistance.

    71. The list of candidates shall be closed two months prior to the election date. The Secretariat will make available the list of candidates and relevant information to member States and to the public at least one month prior to their election.

    72. Due consideration should be given to gender balance and appropriate representation of different civilizations and legal systems.

    73. The geographic distribution will be as follows:

    African States: 5

    Asian States: 5

    Eastern European States: 2

    Latin American and Caribbean States: 3

    Western European and other States: 3

    74. The members of the Advisory Committee shall serve for a period of three years. They shall be eligible for re-election once. In the first term, one third of the experts will serve for one year and another third for two years. The staggering of terms of membership will be defined by the drawing of lots.

    C. Functions

    75. The function of the Advisory Committee is to provide expertise to the Council in the manner and form requested by the Council, focusing mainly on studies and research-based advice. Further, such expertise shall be rendered only upon the latter‟s request, in compliance with its resolutions and under its guidance.

    76. The Advisory Committee should be implementation-oriented and the scope of its advice should be limited to thematic issues pertaining to the mandate of the Council; namely promotion and protection of all human rights.

    77. The Advisory Committee shall not adopt resolutions or decisions. The Advisory Committee may propose within the scope of the work set out by the Council, for the latter‟s consideration and approval, suggestions for further enhancing its procedural efficiency, as well as further research proposals within the scope of the work set out by the Council.

    78. The Council shall issue specific guidelines for the Advisory Committee when it requests a substantive contribution from the latter and shall review all or any portion of those guidelines if it deems necessary in the future.

    D. Methods of work

    79. The Advisory Committee shall convene up to two sessions for a maximum of 10 working days per year. Additional sessions may be scheduled on an ad hoc basis with prior approval of the Council. 80. The Council may request the Advisory Committee to undertake certain tasks that could be performed collectively, through a smaller team or individually. The Advisory Committee will report on such efforts to the Council.

    81. Members of the Advisory Committee are encouraged to communicate between sessions, individually or

    in teams. However, the Advisory Committee shall not establish subsidiary bodies unless the Council authorizes it to do so.

    82. In the performance of its mandate, the Advisory Committee is urged to establish interaction with States, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations and other civil society entities in accordance with the modalities of the Council.

    83. Member States and observers, including States that are not members of the Council, the specialized agencies, other intergovernmental organizations and national human rights institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations shall be entitled to participate in the work of the Advisory Committee based on arrangements, including Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 and practices observed by the Commission on Human Rights and the Council, while ensuring the most effective contribution of these entities.

    84. The Council will decide at its sixth session (first session of its second cycle) on the most appropriate mechanisms to continue the work of the Working Groups on Indigenous Populations; Contemporary Forms of Slavery; Minorities; and the Social Forum.

    IV. COMPLAINT PROCEDURE

    A. Objective and scope

    85. A complaint procedure is being established to address consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested violations of all human rights and all fundamental freedoms occurring in any part of the world and under any

     circumstances.

    86. Economic and Social Council resolution 1503 (XLVIII) of 27 May 1970 as revised by resolution 2000/3 of 19 June 2000 served as a working basis and was improved where necessary, so as to ensure that the complaint procedure is impartial, objective, efficient, victims-oriented and conducted in a timely manner. The procedure will retain its confidential nature, with a view to enhancing cooperation with the State concerned.

    B. Admissibility criteria for communications

    87. A communication related to a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, for the purpose of this procedure, shall be admissible, provided that:

     (a) It is not manifestly politically motivated and its object is consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other applicable instruments in the field of human rights law;

     (b) It gives a factual description of the alleged violations, including the rights which are alleged to be violated;

     (c) Its language is not abusive. However, such a communication may be considered if it meets the other criteria for admissibility after deletion of the abusive language;

     (d) It is submitted by a person or a group of persons claiming to be the victims of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, or by any person or group of persons, including non-governmental organizations, acting in good faith in accordance with the principles of human rights, not resorting to politically motivated stands contrary to the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and claiming to have direct and reliable knowledge of the violations concerned. Nonetheless, reliably attested communications shall not be inadmissible solely because the knowledge of the individual authors is second-hand, provided that they are accompanied by clear evidence;

     (e) It is not exclusively based on reports disseminated by mass media;

     (f) It does not refer to a case that appears to reveal a consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights already being dealt with by a special procedure, a treaty body or other United Nations or similar regional complaints procedure in the field of human rights;

     (g) Domestic remedies have been exhausted, unless it appears that such remedies would be ineffective or unreasonably prolonged.

    88. National human rights institutions, established and operating under the Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris Principles), in particular in regard to quasi-judicial competence, may serve as effective means of addressing individual human rights violations.

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