The Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.
The Council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly. Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
The Human Rights Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which had been heavily criticised for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members.
The Universal Periodic Review
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process under the auspices of the Human Rights Council that involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.
UK and the UNHRC
The UK was elected a member of the UNHRC in 2016. It is represented by staff from the UK Mission to the UN in Geneva. For a blog from one of the delegates see here.
The human rights review of the UK can be found here.
Human Rights Council appoints Special Rapporteurs to monitor sovereign nations and democratically elected governments and policies. They do not receive any financial compensation for their work from the United Nations, though they receive personnel and logistical support from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and are often backed by charities and corporations.