UN Human Rights Council Elections for 2017-2019 and the Responsibility to Protect

28 October 2016

The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect welcomes the election of 14 members to the Human Rights Council for the period of 2017 to 2019. The Global Centre also notes that Iraq, Croatia, and Rwanda will serve their first term on the Human Rights Council. With the election of Rwanda, Japan, Hungary, United Kingdom and United States, 18 of the 47 Council members are also members of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect.
Mass atrocity crimes – genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing – are usually the culmination of sustained human rights abuses. By addressing specific risk factors for mass atrocities, the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms (including the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Special Procedures and treaty bodies) help to uphold our collective responsibility to protect.

Since 2008, the Human Rights Council has referred to states’ responsibility to protect their populations in over 20 thematic and country resolutions. However, more work is needed to translate the rhetoric of prevention into a practical reality. In this regard, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect encourages all Human Rights Council members to:

    • Improve practical links between the human rights and peace and security agendas:
      o Support the Swiss Appeal of 13 June 2016 to put human rights at the center of conflict prevention, by asking the Secretary-General to bring to the attention of the Security Council relevant decisions and
      reports by the Human Rights Council;
      o Ensure that information collected by Special Procedures mandate holders is relayed to the Security
      Council in a timely manner;
      o Include in the mandate of all Commissions of Inquiry a recommendation to brief the Security Council
      once a year.
    • Make better use of the UPR to detect and prevent early signs of mass atrocity risk factors:
      o Use the UPR to ask relevant questions regarding the ratification and implementation of core prevention treaties, as well as regarding risk factors such as the use of hate speech and widespread and systematic abuses of human rights;
      o Where an imminent risk of mass atrocity crimes is detected, Human Rights Council members should act in a timely manner, by holding a special session before these violations reach the level of mass atrocity crimes;
      o The UPR can also be a forum to discuss a state’s domestic prevention architecture and make targeted and constructive recommendations.
      Pay increased attention to possible human rights violations committed by troop contributing countries during UN peacekeeping operations.

The Global Centre has compiled profiles on each of the newly-elected Human Rights Council members. These provide a basic overview of their engagement with R2P and their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect


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Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies
The Graduate Center, CUNY
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New York, NY 10016-4309, USA

Phone: +1 212-817-1929 | info@globalr2p.org
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