This course surveys the United Nations (UN) system for the promotion and protection of human rights. It provides an overview of the UN’s Charter-based bodies, in particular the Human Rights Council, and their subsidiary bodies, focusing on those of the Human Rights Council, including its Universal Periodic Review mechanism, special procedures, Complaint Procedure and Advisory Committee. It considers the Human Rights Council’s standard-setting work and response to urgent situations, including special sessions and urgent debates, fact-finding missions, commissions of inquiry and similar mechanisms. It also reflects on the five year review of the Council during 2010-11 and further proposals to strengthen its work and impact. It surveys the human rights treaty body system, the work of the human rights treaty bodies, including state reporting, complaints and inquiry procedures and general comments/recommendations, as well as on-going efforts to promote coordination, reform and strengthening of the system. It examines the role of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the work of his Office in the promotion and protection of human rights. It also considers progress in mainstreaming human rights in the UN system as a whole.
The course will also include consideration of the UN approach of the Charter-based regime and the human rights treaty bodies to women’s rights. The work of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, in particular its work under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women on petitions and inquiries will be highlighted.