The UN Human Rights Council


The UN Human Rights Council

A Practical Anatomy

9781789907933 Edward Elgar Publishing
Eric Tistounet, Chief of the Human Rights Council Branch, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Switzerland
Publication Date: 2020 ISBN: 978 1 78990 793 3 Extent: 384 pp
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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Since its establishment the work of the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has been subject to many interpretations, with differing theories proffered and conclusions drawn.

This comprehensive guide, from an author with an intimate knowledge of the organisation, dissects every aspect of the UNHRC’s work and examines the efficiency of, and interactions between, its mechanisms. The book also offers a meticulous overview of the structure and functions of the Council and its processes, providing readers not only with a clear and practical guide, but a platform from which to formulate their own opinions and conclusions.

Key Features:

• Authored by the first Secretary of the UNHRC

• Unique practical insights from a UN insider

• Explanation of the complex decision-making processes of the Council

• UNHRC procedures described within the overall context in which they operate

• Highlights vital, but hard to access, UN and UNHRC documents and references

Clear and accessible, this informative book will be a key resource for NGOs, diplomats, UN officials and other participants in UNHRC proceedings, whilst also being valuable to human rights students and academics seeking to broaden their understanding of UNHRC operations.
Critical Acclaim
‘Eric Tistounet, with precision and an extraordinary pedagogical capacity, describes the operation of the most important intergovernmental human rights body worldwide. The “Geneva atmosphere” is perfectly reflected; the text shows the game and roles of all actors – the international community, states, non-governmental organizations and experts – in the different procedures of the Human Rights Council. Essential reading to understand the legal and political dimensions of human rights debates in the United Nations Organization.’
– Fabián Salvioli, UN Special Rapporteur for the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparations and Guarantees of Non Recurrence, Argentina

‘The author is well-placed to raise awareness and understanding of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms from his unique vantage point of having worked with the Council since before its inception – a timely analysis as the Council reflects on its own efficiency and effectiveness.’
– Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

‘This book offers key insights on the United Nations’ principal human rights body. The author uses his insider knowledge and expertise to explain how the Council works, and to assess its strengths and weaknesses. Scholars, practitioners, and students will greatly benefit from reading and learning from this work.’
– Rosa Freedman, University of Reading, UK

‘This book provides a dynamic review of the work of the Human Rights Council since its creation, in 2006. It is an insightful reflection of the efforts made to equip the Council with the needed mechanisms, tools and procedures to safeguard the protection of human rights, including by serving as an early-warning mechanism, giving voice to the voiceless, responding to emerging and lengthy crisis, and enhancing transparency and accountability through the universal periodic review of the human rights situation in every country of the world. Authored by a well-known expert who has been closely associated with this process, this publication constitutes a valuable resource for governmental officials, civil society actors, research institutions and human rights defenders.’
– Marta Santos Pais, Former United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children, Portugal

‘The present book is a journey into the anatomy of the Human Rights Council. It will lead many individuals who are engaged with human rights including diplomats, scholars, civil society and others, into the very complex structure and functioning of the Council.’
– Vojislav Suc, Former President of the Human Rights Council, Slovenia

‘This is a valuable book that helps us understand the functioning of the Human Rights Council, its contribution to upholding human rights, its strengths and its dilemmas. These can help identify strategies for its future strengthening. Written by a consummate professional human rights practitioner, it gives a rare insight into how international institutions actually function, and how they may be made more dynamic, given the political will. Eric Tistounet has done the human rights cause a great service.’
– Bertrand Ramcharan, Former Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

''No-one knows the UN Human Rights Council, including its ins and outs and all of its secrets, better than Eric Tistounet. As Secretary of the Council he has played a central role in shaping and guiding it, and in this book he shares the insights that governments, advocates, scholars, and others interested in the Council and the UN’s human rights programme need to know.''
– Philip Alston, New York University, School of Law, US

Contents: Introduction 1. The Human Rights Council in a Nutshell 2. The Human Rights Council Functions 3. The Human Rights Council Governance: The Role and Functions of the President and His/Her Bureau 4. The Human Rights Council Stakeholders 5. The Structure of Sessional and Intersessional Activities 6. The Human Rights Council Voting Procedure and Procedural Motions 7. The Change Management Process as it Applies to the Council and Previously the Commission In Guise of an Imperfect Conclusion Index
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