The UN Human Rights Council (the Council) was created on March 15, 2006 by the UN General Assembly as the successor to the Commission on Human Rights. Through a body of 47 elected member States, the Council works collectively to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights around the world by addressing situations of human rights violations and making recommendations. These tasks are completed in three regular sessions held in June, September, and February, as well special sessions called by one-third of the membership to address urgent situations. In 2006-2007, referred to as the first cycle, the Council focused primarily on institution building, while subsequent years centered most of its activity on addressing thematic and country-specific human rights issues throughout the world. In 2007, a new mechanism, the Universal Periodic Review, was created to allow the review of the human rights records of all 192 UN member states over a four year period.
The following States (followed by the year their terms end) are members of the 2011-2012 cycle of the Council:
Africa (13 seats)
Asia (13 seats)
Eastern Europe (6 Seats)
Latin America and the Caribbean (8 seats)
Western Europe and Others (7 seats)
Burkina Faso (2014)
Uganda (2013) Senegal (2012*)
Saudi Arabia (2012*) Thailand (2013)
Czech Republic (2014)
Russia (2012*) Poland (2013)
Costa Rica (2014)
Peru (2014) Uruguay (2012*)
Austria (2014) Belgium (2012)
United States (2012)
* Indicates that two consecutive terms will have been served and thus the member is not eligible for reelection in the year indicated.
The presidency of the Council is currently held by Ambassador Sihasak Phuangketkeow of Thailand, with Ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre of Uruguay slated to take over in July 2011. Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico held the Council’s first presidency from June 2006 to June 2007. Ambassador Doru Romulus Costea of Romania held the Council’s second presidency from June 2007 to June 2008, Ambassador Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi of Nigeria held the third presidency from June 2008 to June 2009 and Ambassador Alex Van Meeuwen of Belgium held the fourth presidency from June 2009 to June 2010.
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