Human Rights Council

29th Session of Human Rights Council.
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The Human Rights Council and its mechanisms (particularly the special procedures), as well as the human rights treaty body mechanisms, have contributed to the implementation of the responsibility to protect in a variety of ways, directly or indirectly. They have done so through their work to address concerns with Member States about human rights issues and risk factors of atrocity crimes, by making recommendations that encourage compliance with international human rights standards and obligations, including those that are the basis of the principle of the responsibility to protect, as well as through the Human Rights Council’s resolutions on country situations and thematic issues, including those directly related to the risk or commission of violations that may amount to atrocity crimes. All of these actions contribute to implementation of pillars I and II of the responsibility to protect and promote greater unity among the members of the international community on the protection of populations against those crimes.

Since 2011, the Human Rights Council has adopted a significant number of resolutions that specifically reference the responsibility to protect. These include three thematic resolutions on the prevention of genocide (A/HRC/RES/7/25, A/HRC/RES/22/22, and A/HRC/RES/28/34), one on Human Rights and Transitional Justice (A/HRC/RES/33/19), as well as a series of country-specific resolutions addressing particularly the situations in Libya and Syria (click here for a list compiled by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect).

The Human Rights Council also holds Special Sessions to address particularly urgent situations featuring serious violations of human rights and elevated risks of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity. Since 2006 these Special Sessions have considered situations in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Myanmar, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Syria. Special Sessions have also been convened to consider the threat posed by Boko Haram, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and associated groups.

In addition, the Human Rights Council has established several Commissions of Inquiry and investigations that address the risk or ongoing commission of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity, as well as accountability for crimes committed, including with respect to Burundi, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Gaza, Lebanon, Libya, Sri Lanka and Syria.

Check also:

  • CERD/C/66/1 (2005) Declaration on the prevention of genocide
  • CERD/C/67/1 (2005) Decision on follow up to the declaration on the prevention of genocide: indicators of patterns of systematic and massive racial discrimination