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Missed Opportunities Threaten U.N. Human Rights Council With Irrelevance

M. Joel Voss Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012

In 2006, the United Nations created the Human Rights Council to replace the discredited Commission on Human Rights. Among the numerous mechanisms the U.N. gave the council to promote and protect human rights is the ability to call ad-hoc special sessions when needed. These special sessions, when used against states, are an important tool for “naming and shaming” perpetrators of human rights violations and may, on occasion, precipitate movement at the Security Council.

Through the first five years of its existence, the council held 18 special sessions, or almost four per year. That pace slowed down in 2012, however, during which the council has held only one special session. More important than the reduced number of ad hoc sessions called, however, is the fact that over the past few weeks, the 2012 council has missed out on two critical opportunities to assert itself as the premier global institution for protecting human rights. ...

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