the UN and other bodies
page highlights the United Nations (particularly agencies
such as the Human Rights Committee) and other bodies such
as the African Commission on Human & Peoples' Rights that
are concerned with international human rights.
It is under development and currently covers -
In March 2006 agreement was reached on establishment of
a Human Rights Council (HRC) to replace the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
The Commission was based in Geneva and promoted as "the
world’s foremost human rights forum", had 53 members
serving staggered three year terms and elected from closed
slates put forward by regional groups. It met each year for
six weeks and was criticised as a body responsible for the
UN's 'credibility deficit'.
Kofi Annan disingenuously lamented in 2005 that the CHR had
been undermined by allowing participation of countries whose
purpose was "not to strengthen human rights but to protect
themselves against criticism or to criticize others."
Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch more succinctly said
you're a thug, you want to be on the committee that tries
to condemn thugs
Peggy Hicks of Human Rights Watch commented that having rights
abusers on the panel had a broadly debilitating effect on
the case of Sudan, the Sudanese government's presence on
the commission meant that African states and others watered
down language that human rights groups around the world
thought appropriate to address crimes against humanity.
In general, what the presence of abusive countries on the
commission means is that much of its energy is taken up
with the blocking actions and delaying tactics that end
up weakening action on human rights abuses worldwide. Yes,
they delay action on their own internal situations, but
they have a vested interest in seeing that the overall ability
is as weak as possible.
CHR coexisted with and is serviced by the UN Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The expectation
is that the new Council will have a similar relationship.
It will have 47
members, in regional blocs, to
violations of human rights, including gross and systematic
violations, and promote effective coordination and the mainstreaming
of human rights within the United Nations system ... with
the aim of ensuring the effective enjoyment by all of all
human rights -- civil, political, economic, social and cultural
rights, including the right to development.
UN March 2006 statement
the responsibilities of all States, in conformity with the
Charter, to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms
for all, without distinction of any kind as to race, colour,
sex, language or religion, political or other opinion, national
or social origin, property, birth or other status.
But it acknowledges that non-governmental organizations
play an important role, at the national, regional and international
level, in the promotion and protection of human rights.
include Defining Civil and Political Rights: The Jurisprudence
of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (Aldershot:
Ashgate 2004) by Alex Conte, Scott Davidson & Richard
Burchill and the broader Human Security and the UN: A
Critical History (Bloomington: Indiana Uni Press 2006)
by S Neil MacFarlane & Yuen Foong Khong. They are complemented
by Paul Kennedy's The Parliament of Man: The United Nations
and the Quest for World Government (London: Allen Lane
2006) and A New Deal For The World: America's Vision for
Human Rights (Cambridge: Harvard Uni Press 2006) by Elizabeth
other UN bodies
Other major UN bodies involved in human rights issues include
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Labour Organisation (ILO)
Law Commission (ILC)
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
World Health Organisation (WHO)
Skogly's The Human Rights Obligations of the World Bank
and the International Monetary Fund (London: Cavendish
The African Commission on Human & Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)
is an intergovernmental body established under the 1981 Organisation
of African Unity (OAU) Banjul Charter on Human & Peoples'
Rights. That Charter is often described as the first major
convention to detail the duties of the individual to state,
family and society.
The Commission formally comprises 11 people appointed by the
OAU and is funded - without much enthusiasm - by that body.
The ACHPR has educational and promotional responsibilities,
centred on conference organisation and data collection. It
is thus similar to the Inter-American Commission. It has no
court. OAU states are obliged to produce reports every two
years regarding implementation of rights under the Charter,
an obligation that has been largely dispected (with states
providing inadequate or late reports, or simply not providing