Office Of The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights | IAS Target IAS Target

Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights

The United States newly declared that it would rejoin the UN Human Rights Council, which resigned in 2018. The United States will return to the board as an observer for full membership.
The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental organisation among the United Nations system accountable for increasing the development and security of human rights worldwide.


  • The United Nations General Assembly established the Council in 2006.
  • It succeeded the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
  • The OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) serves as the secretariat of the Human Rights Council.
  • The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.


  • It consists of 47 member states of the United Nations elected by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
  • UNGA considers the contributions of candidate countries to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as voluntary commitments and commitments in this regard.
  • The members of the Council are based on fair geographical distribution.
Seats are allocated as follows:
African countries: 13 seats
Asia Pacific: 13 seats
Latin America and the Caribbean: 8 seats
Western Europe and other countries: 7 seats
Eastern European countries: 6 seats
  • The periodic Review: The term of office of the councillor is three years and cannot be re-elected immediately after the term of two terms.
  • Process and mechanism: The UPR is used to assess the human rights status of all constituent states of the UN.
  • Advisory Board: Acts as a council's "think tank", providing thematic expertise and advice on human rights issues.
  • Complaint Mechanism: Allows individuals and organizations to draw the Council's attention to human rights abuses.
  • UN Special Rapporteurs: These consist of special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts, and a working group that publicly observes, investigates, advises, and reports on the subject matter and human rights situation of a particular country.


The main concern of some critics was the composition of the Council, which may include countries widely recognized as human rights abusers. China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia, Venezuela have been accused of human rights abuses.

Disproportionate Focus:

The United States withdrew from government agencies in 2018 due to a disproportionate focus on Israel, which received by far the most crucial council decision for any country.

India and the United Nations Human Rights Council:

  • Recently, UN Special Rapporteurs sent a letter to the Government of India expressing concern about the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 Communication.
  • In 2020, the Commission on Human Rights of India submitted the Human Rights Council of India as a part of the final round of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process.
  • India was elected to the Council for a three-year term starting January 1, 2019.