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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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Eric Tistounet

Foreword by Louise Arbour
Foreword by Coly Seck
1 The Human Rights Council in a nutshell
1.1 The UPR mechanism
1.2 Special Procedures
1.3 Commissions of inquiry, commissions on human rights, fact-finding missions and other ad hoc investigations
1.4 The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee and the Complaints Procedure
1.5 Interaction between the various human rights bodies and mechanisms
2 The Human Rights Council functions
2.1 The inadequacy of the responses of the Commission on Human Rights to gross and massive violations of human rights
2.2 Elements of a human rights geology: how the Council addresses human rights issues
3 The Human Rights Council governance: the role and functions of the President and his/her Bureau
3.1 The traditional roles and functions of the President and his/her Bureau
3.2 The additional responsibilities of the Council President and the Bureau
3.3 The New York–Geneva gap
3.4 Representing the Council outside Geneva
4 The Human Rights Council stakeholders
4.1 Member States
4.2 Groups of States
4.3 Observer States
4.4 Other observers
5 The structure of sessional and intersessional activities
5.1 The sessional activities
5.2 Organizational Meeting and Sessions
5.3 Special Sessions
5.4 Intersessional activities and other Council work formats
5.5 Informal and parallel meetings or activities
6 The Human Rights Council voting procedure and procedural motions
6.1 Influence of politics, history and psychology on the voting process
6.2 When does the Council adopt formal decisions or resolutions?
6.3 The Human Rights Council voting procedure
6.4 Procedural motions in the context of the substantive work of the Council
6.5 Elections
6.6 Selection and appointment of mandate-holders
7 The change management process as it applies to the Council and previously the Commission
7.1 The Commission on Human Rights’ failed attempts at reforming itself
7.2 The constant efforts of the Human Rights Council to reform itself
In guise of an imperfect conclusion
An incomplete list of success stories
Flexibility, realism and transparency vs confusion and lack of visibility
The fluctuating nature of frustrations