About the council
- The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system.
- The Council’s mandate is to promote “universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all” and “address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon.”
- It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year.
- The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006. It replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
- The headquarters of UNHRC is in Geneva, Switzerland.
- The Council is made of 47 Member States, which are elected by the majority of members of the General Assembly of the United Nations through direct and secret ballot.
- The Council’s Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution.
- Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
Why in News?
- India has recently abstained from a crucial vote on Sri Lanka’s rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
- The resolution on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ was, however, adopted after 22 states of the 47-member Council voted in its favour.
- The resolution gives UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet the mandate to collect and preserve evidence of crimes related to Sri Lanka’s civil war that ended in 2009 with the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels.
- The resolution also contended the human rights situation has deteriorated under the Rajapaksa administration and that rights defenders and ethnic and religious minorities are facing problems.
- Sri Lanka, which had earlier deemed the resolution “politically motivated”, was quick to reject the UN move to collect and preserve evidence of war crimes in the country, committed by the armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
- Sri Lanka is opposed to the process envisaged in the resolution to prosecute war criminals through an international evidence gathering and investigation mechanism.
- The Sri Lanka resolution was the first to be voted on using the extraordinary e-voting procedures established for the UNHRC 46th Session, which has been held virtually.