The SRI works with the four main UN human rights mechanisms: the Human Rights Council, the Universal Periodic Review, the Special Procedures and the Treaty Monitoring Bodies. Learn about these mechanisms and what they do.

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Diagram of all the UN Mechanisms

Introduction

The UN human rights system is a collection of mechanisms that work together to:

  • Hold States accountable for their human rights obligations

  • Discuss and take action on human rights concerns around the world
  • Set standards for the promotion, protection, and fulfillment of human rights

The SRI works with the four main UN human rights mechanisms:

  • The Human Rights Council
  • The Universal Periodic Review
  • The Treaty Monitoring Bodies
  • The Special Procedures
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The Human Rights Council auditorium

Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council is the foremost inter-governmental body charged with protecting and promoting human rights.

47 UN Member States are elected by the UN General Assembly to serve on the Human Rights Council for a three-year term. All 193 UN Member States can participate in the proceedings of the Human Rights Council; however, only the 47 Members are entitled to vote on actions to be taken.

The Human Rights Council is mandated to:

  • Engage governments, civil society, and experts to debate, discuss, and adopt resolutions on thematic and country-specific human rights concerns.
  • Appoint Special Procedures to analyze and report on human rights related to particular themes and in specific countries.
  • Assess the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States through the Universal Periodic Review.
  • Examine human rights violation complaints.

The Human Rights Council meets three times a year for regular sessions in March, June, and September at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.

To learn more about the Human Rights Council, please visit its website or watch this video produced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Click here to learn more about our work at HRC

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The broken chair at the HRC

Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review is an inter-governmental process where each of the 193 UN Member States are reviewed on their entire human rights record every four and a half years.

All UN Member States are reviewed on an equal basis and with the same frequency. States under review are provided an opportunity to update the UN Human Rights Council on the steps taken to fulfill their human rights obligations at the national level. During this process, UN Member States also make recommendations to the State under review to improve the implementation of human rights obligations at the national level.

To learn more about the Universal Periodic Review, please visit its website or watch this video produced by UPR-Info.

Click here to review a collection of the SRI’s collaborative UPR stakeholder submissions.

Click here to learn more about our work at the UPR

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Checklist of points

Special Procedures

UN Special Procedures are human rights experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate, analyze and report on thematic or country-specific human rights concerns.

UN Special Procedures can take the form of Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts, or Working Groups. The Special Procedures submit annual reports to the Human Rights Council, respond to communications of urgent human rights violations, undertake country visits, and contribute to the development of international human rights norms and standards.

To learn more about the Special Procedures, please visit their website or watch this video produced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Click here to learn more about our work at the Special Procedures

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A person with information papers surrounding her.

Treaty Monitoring Bodies

The Treaty Monitoring Bodies are committees of independent experts that monitor the implementation of international human rights treaties.

When States ratify a human rights treaty, they agree to periodically report to the respective Committee on the steps taken to ensure everyone in the State can enjoy the rights set out in the treaty. The Treaty Monitoring Bodies also develop and adopt General Comments or Recommendations to guide States in the implementation of the obligations set out in the human rights treaties.

To learn more about the Treaty Monitoring Bodies, please visit their website or watch this video produced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Click here to learn more about our work at the Treaty Monitoring Bodies

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A picture of a person reading papers and inspecting them