The 22nd regular session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva marks the beginning of the United States’ second consecutive three-year term as a member of the intergovernmental body created in 2006 to replace the Commission on Human Rights. In an effort to review the effect that US membership on the Council has had to date, the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights has reviewed of the “country-specific” resolutions adopted by the Council, the country-specific special sessions held by the Council, and the number of country-specific and thematic special procedures created by the Council since its establishment. This is one of a number of areas to which the US has devoted substantial attention during its first term on the Council.
The findings of this review are that in the three years that the US has served on the Council, the body’s criticism of countries by name on human rights grounds has substantially increased. The Council’s criticism of an increasing number of violator States has not only strengthened its legitimacy; it has decreased to a certain degree the Council’s highly disproportionate focus on the conduct of a single UN Member State, Israel.
While there remain many aspects of the Council’s performance that States should continue to work to improve, and while the Council still devotes a disproportionate degree of its country-specific action to Israel, JBI’s review finds that US engagement has had beneficial effects on the Council’s performance. JBI concludes that the United States should continue its efforts in its second term of membership, by pressing Council members to convene special sessions on emerging human rights crises and by proposing and encouraging the tabling of resolutions that identify the perpetrators of serious human rights violations worldwide by name. It should also devote further efforts to ensure the Council’s credibility and professionalism, including with respect to Israel.
JBI’s detailed documentation and analysis of trends over time, as well as background information, can be found in the full analysis below.