The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a key intergovernmental body within the United Nations system responsible for promoting and protecting human rights around the world. Established in 2006, the UNHRC replaced the former UN Commission on Human Rights and is tasked with addressing human rights violations, promoting dialogue and cooperation on human rights issues, and making recommendations for action to member states.

  • Full Name: United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)
  • Established: 2006
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
  • Mandate: To promote and protect human rights around the world
  • Membership: 47 states elected by the UN General Assembly for staggered three-year terms.

Current Information:

  • 51st Regular Session: Held from June 12 to July 7, 2023.
  • President: Federico Villegas (Argentina)
  • High Commissioner for Human Rights: Volker Turk (Austria)

Current Developments:

The UNHRC currently faces several challenges:

  • Credibility Concerns: Several member states with questionable human rights records have been elected to the council, raising concerns about their commitment to promoting and protecting human rights.
  • Geopolitical Tensions: The ongoing conflict in Ukraine and other geopolitical tensions make it difficult for the council to address human rights concerns in certain countries due to potential political backlash.
  • Limited Enforcement Power: The UNHRC lacks the authority to enforce its recommendations, making it difficult to hold states accountable for human rights violations.

Despite these challenges, the UNHRC remains a vital forum for:

  • Addressing human rights violations: The council has launched investigations into human rights abuses in various countries, raising awareness and pressuring governments to improve their human rights records.
  • Developing human rights standards: The UNHRC adopts resolutions and recommendations that set international human rights standards and best practices.
  • Providing technical assistance: The council provides technical assistance to states to help them improve their human rights institutions and practices.

Role and Mission of the UN Human Rights Council:

The UNHRC’s primary mission is to promote and protect human rights globally. The council works to address human rights violations and abuses, promote human rights education and awareness, and strengthen the capacity of member states to uphold their human rights obligations.

Key functions of the UNHRC include:

  • Monitoring and Reporting: The council monitors human rights situations around the world, conducts investigations into alleged human rights violations, and publishes reports documenting its findings and recommendations.
  • Country-Specific Mandates: The UNHRC establishes special procedures, such as special rapporteurs and independent experts, to investigate and report on human rights situations in specific countries or regions.
  • Universal Periodic Review (UPR): The council conducts a periodic review of the human rights records of all UN member states through the UPR process, which provides an opportunity for states to discuss their human rights achievements and challenges and make commitments to improve their human rights performance.
  • Thematic Mandates: The UNHRC addresses thematic human rights issues through the establishment of special rapporteurs, working groups, and other mechanisms focused on topics such as freedom of expression, women’s rights, children’s rights, and the rights of marginalized and vulnerable groups.

Human Rights Topics Addressed by the UNHRC:

The UN Human Rights Council and the mechanisms it supports work on a wide range of human rights topics, including:

  • Freedom of Expression: The council addresses issues related to freedom of expression, including censorship, media freedom, access to information, and the protection of journalists and human rights defenders.
  • Right to Education: The council promotes access to quality education for all, including efforts to eliminate discrimination in education, ensure inclusive and equitable education opportunities, and protect the rights of children to education.
  • Women’s Rights: The UNHRC works to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, address violence against women and girls, and promote women’s participation in decision-making processes.
  • Children’s Rights: The council focuses on protecting and promoting the rights of children, including efforts to prevent child labor, combat child trafficking and exploitation, and ensure access to education, healthcare, and other essential services.
  • Rights of Indigenous Peoples: The council addresses the rights of indigenous peoples, including efforts to protect their lands, cultures, and traditional knowledge, and address discrimination, marginalization, and violence against indigenous communities.
  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities: The UNHRC promotes the rights of persons with disabilities, including efforts to ensure accessibility, non-discrimination, and inclusion in all aspects of society.
  • Refugees and Migrants’ Rights: The council works to protect the rights of refugees and migrants, including efforts to ensure access to asylum, address discrimination and xenophobia, and promote safe and orderly migration.
  • Human Rights in Conflict Situations: The council addresses human rights violations and abuses in conflict situations, including efforts to protect civilians, ensure accountability for war crimes and atrocities, and promote peace and reconciliation.

India’s Role and Mission in the UN Human Rights Council:

India, as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, plays an active role in promoting human rights globally. The country is committed to upholding the principles of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and actively participates in the council’s deliberations and activities.

India’s mission in the UNHRC includes:

  • Promoting Dialogue and Cooperation: India advocates for dialogue and cooperation among member states to address human rights issues in a constructive and non-confrontational manner. The country believes in the importance of engaging with all stakeholders, including governments, civil society organizations, and international bodies, to find mutually acceptable solutions to human rights challenges.
  • Addressing Key Human Rights Concerns: India works to address key human rights concerns at the national, regional, and international levels, including issues such as poverty, discrimination, gender-based violence, and social exclusion. The country advocates for a holistic approach to human rights that recognizes the interdependence and indivisibility of all human rights.
  • Supporting Thematic Mandates: India supports the work of the UNHRC’s thematic mechanisms, including special rapporteurs and working groups, by providing input, sharing best practices, and participating in discussions on specific human rights topics. The country believes in the importance of addressing human rights issues in a comprehensive and nuanced manner that takes into account the diverse experiences and perspectives of different communities.
  • Engaging in the Universal Periodic Review: India actively participates in the Universal Periodic Review process, both as a reviewing state and as a reviewed state, to assess its human rights record and make commitments to address any shortcomings. The country views the UPR as a valuable mechanism for promoting transparency, accountability, and dialogue on human rights issues.

Pledges for Human Rights: Advancing Freedom, Equality, and Justice for All

In a world grappling with myriad challenges, the pursuit of human rights remains a cornerstone of our collective aspirations for a better future. Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948, countries, organizations, and individuals have made significant strides in advancing the cause of human rights. As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, we reaffirm our commitment to upholding the principles of freedom, equality, and justice for all.

The 75th anniversary of the UDHR served as a moment to rekindle the hope of human rights for every person. It was a year of commemoration, reflection, and action, aimed at advancing the promise of the UDHR in the face of contemporary challenges. Through the Human Rights 75 initiative, led by the UN Human Rights Office and its partners, countries, NGOs, businesses, and UN entities came together to make pledges and commitments on a wide range of human rights issues.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948, remains a beacon of hope and inspiration for people around the world. It enshrines the fundamental rights and freedoms that are inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, gender, religion, or nationality. Over the past seven decades, the UDHR has served as a guiding framework for the advancement of human rights globally.

Human Rights 75 Initiative:

The Human Rights 75 initiative was launched to mark the 75th anniversary of the UDHR and to reaffirm its relevance in today’s world. The initiative aimed to promote universality, progress, and engagement in the field of human rights, under the leadership of the UN Human Rights Office and its partners. Through a series of events, consultations, and dialogues, the initiative sought to mobilize support for human rights and generate ideas for the future of human rights.

Three Tracks of Human Rights 75:

  • Promoting Universality: The initiative celebrated the diversity, strengths, and achievements of communities around the world striving to address global challenges. It emphasized the non-negotiable nature of human rights and underscored the importance of reclaiming them as a foundation for finding solutions to common challenges.
  • Forging the Future: The initiative sought to harness the potential of technological breakthroughs and anticipate the challenges that will benefit from their application. It explored innovative ways to advance human rights through technology and other means, with a focus on leveraging new tools and approaches to address emerging challenges.
  • Supporting Engagement: The initiative worked with Member States and relevant stakeholders to build a positive force for change and ensure that human rights are upheld. It fostered trust in the human rights architecture and provided resources to support the implementation of human rights commitments and pledges.

Pledges for Human Rights:

As part of the Human Rights 75 initiative, more than 286 pledges were made by 150 Member States, NGOs, businesses, and UN entities on a wide range of human rights issues. These pledges encompassed commitments to advance women’s rights, children’s rights, climate change, empowering people with disabilities, and legislative reforms, among others. The pledges reflected a shared commitment to promoting freedom, equality, and justice for all.


The Human Rights 75 initiative served as a platform for countries, organizations, and individuals to reaffirm their commitment to upholding human rights. Through pledges and commitments on a wide range of human rights issues, stakeholders demonstrated their dedication to advancing the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As we look towards the future, it is imperative that we continue to work together to ensure that human rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled for all people, everywhere.