The Human Rights Council
The establishment of a Human Rights Council to replace the infamous Commission on Human Rights has been decided by the World Leaders in the September 2005 Summit in New York. Following several months of negotiations, the UN General Assembly with an overwhelming majority of 170 countries established a standing subsidiary body, the “Human Rights Council”, in March 2006, (Res A/60/251), with a view to promote human rights and to provide effective and genuine protection to the victims of human rights violations.
During its first year, the Human Rights Council concentrated its activities on exploring and setting forth the modalities of the different components of the institution-building process, such as the Universal Periodic Review, the improvement and review of the systems of Special Procedures, the establishment of the experts’ Advisory Committee, the reform of the Complaints Procedure, the definition of an agenda and an annual program of work, as well as the establishment of its rules of procedures and its methods of work. The culmination of this development has been the adoption, by consensus, by the Human Rights Council on June 18, 2007 of the President’s text on Institution Building. This set of documents provides for the necessary base for the Council to continue its activities within a well-structured framework, aimed at addressing effectively human rights in all countries.
Greece supported from the outset the creation of an effective and efficient Human Rights Council, having an enhanced status, a strong mandate, concrete structures and a worthy membership, necessary to give human rights the central role, foreseen by the Charter and the Reform Summit (2005), as well as to contribute substantially to the credibility, legitimacy and effectiveness of the UN human rights system.
Though having only an observer status in the Human Rights Council, Greece is committed to fully cooperate with the competent treaty bodies, submit national reports in a timely manner and take seriously into account the relevant concluding observations and recommendations, in its constant effort to further promote Human Rights.
Throughout both the regular and special sessions of the Human Rights Council, held so far, the Greek Delegation in Geneva has been engaged in the interactive dialogue with the Special Procedures and has repeatedly intervened when the Council dealt with issues of particular importance and national interest (human trafficking, children’s rights, human rights situations in specific countries, etc).
Greece shares the opinion that making the Human Rights Council work effectively is a great responsibility. The Council’s performance will be vital to the work of the United Nations, where human rights are now rightly recognized as one of the main pillars of its mandate. Through genuine and open dialogue and by scrupulously implementing the institutional-building Resolution, recently adopted, the Council will be in a position to promote universal respect for human rights. As Eleanor Roosevelt, the first Chair of the then Commission on Human Rights, said: «It is inherent in our firm attachment to democracy and freedom that we stand always ready to use the fundamental democratic procedures of honest discussion and negotiation».