The Human Rights Council, a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, based in Geneva, was created in 2006 to replace the Commission for Human Rights, with the task of promoting universal respect and the protection of human rights, intervening in case of their violation and favoring the coordination of the structures operating in the United Nations human rights system.
The Human Rights Council is composed by 47 member states (13 from Asia-Pacific, 13 from Africa, 8 from Latin America, 7 from the Western European and Others Group and 6 from Eastern Europe), elected by the General Assembly for a period of three years and renewable no more than two consecutive times. The Council meets in Geneva in 3 ordinary sessions per year (February/March, May/June and September/October) for a total of minimum 10 weeks of work (in 2021 and 2022 there was a significant increase in activities, requiring about 13 weeks). The Human Rights Council can also meet in special sessions dedicated to specific urgent questions, when convened at the request of at least 1/3 of its members.
Even though the Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body, it is open to the contribution of NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status, which can participate in meetings and present written documents. To carry out its mandate, the Council has several “mechanisms”, in particular the Universal Periodic Review (or UPR) and the Special Procedures (Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts, etc.). Furthermore, the Council has established the procedure for individual complaints (Complaint Procedures) and numerous subsidiary mechanisms including the Advisory Committee, the Working Groups regarding the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Action Program against racism, the right to development, the role of private military and security companies, as well as the Forums on social issues, democracy and rule of law, minority rights, and the protection of human rights in the context of economic activities.
In the Human Rights Council, Italy is conducting an extensive action in favor of the promotion and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms in the world, which constitute a pillar of our foreign policy. Italy’s action is based on the ethical principles and values of democracy and respect for the person expressed in the Constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as on the conviction that the respect for human rights is essential to strengthen international security and promote the development.
Italy’s commitment is inspired by a line of dialogue and openness, respectful of cultural diversity but based on the principles of the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights and fundamental freedoms, with specific attention to economic, social and cultural rights and the full involvement of civil society and non-governmental organizations. Italy’s action to protect human rights in the world is characterized by particular attention to: a campaign for a universal moratorium on the death penalty; the promotion of the rights of women and girls, and in particular the campaigns against female genital mutilations and child, early and forced marriage; the protection and promotion of children’s rights; the protection of freedom of religion and belief and of the rights of members of religious minorities.
At the same time, Italy is committed to a plurality of further initiatives on the protection and promotion of human rights in line with the obligations assumed at international level in support of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. In a non-exhaustive way, we recall the struggle against racism, xenophobia and all forms of intolerance, anti-semitism; discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; promoting the rights of people with disabilities; human rights education and training; the promotion of democracy and the rule of law; the promotion of freedom of opinion and expression.