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The UN Human Rights Council

A Practical Anatomy

Eric Tistounet

Since its establishment the work of the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has been subject to many interpretations, theories, comments or conclusions. This comprehensive book dissects every aspect of the UNHRC’s work and analyses the efficiency of, and interactions between, its mechanisms. Authored by the first Secretary of the UNHRC, this book provides unique practitioner insights into the complex decision making processes of the Council alongside the core variations from its predecessor. This book is the outcome of a six-months research fellowship carried out by the author at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.
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Chapter 2: The Human Rights Council functions

Eric Tistounet


The skeleton is the body part that forms the supporting structure of an organism and the framework that provides support, shape and protection to the organs. By furthering the analogy to a biological anatomy, this chapter aims to analyse the fundamental structure of the Council and its mechanisms. This will consist of a quasi-dissection of the multiple functions of the Council. It will also include a rapid and fragmentary discussion of what the author considers as one of the main weaknesses or deficiencies of the Commission, as this is the body that preceded the Council and built the foundations upon which it was built. The text will also show how some of these weaknesses have been corrected. This will be done against the background of decrypting the multilayered structure of the intergovernmental human rights machinery. The General Assembly Resolution 60/251 spells out the Council’s functions and terms of reference. However, being the result of intense and arduous negotiations, the text is rather brief and includes a number of provisions which had to be clarified by the Council in the Institutions Building Package1 and its own practice.

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