Background information on the Advisory Committee
Pursuant to Council resolution 5/1 paragraphs 65 to 84, the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee has been established to function as a think-tank for the Council and work at its direction. The Committee held its first meeting in August 2008. It meets twice a year, for one week in February immediately before the March session of the Council and for one week in August.
Mandate & Functions
- The Advisory Committee provides expertise to the Council in the manner and form requested by it. It mainly focuses on studies and research-based advice.
- The Committee may also propose within the scope of the work set out by the Council, for the latter’s consideration and approval, suggestions for further research proposals.
- In its work, the Committee should be implementation-oriented and the scope of its advice should be limited to thematic issues pertaining to the mandate of the Council, namely promotion and protection of all human rights.
- It shall not adopt resolutions or decisions.
The Committee is composed of 18 independent experts from different professional backgrounds representing the various regions of the world. Experts are nominated by Governments and elected by the Council. Elections normally take place at the September session of the Council. At the twenty-fourth session in September 2013, elections will be held for 6 of the 7 vacant seats and the election for the remaining 7th seat was held at the twenty-fifth session in March 2014.
Members serve for a period of three years and may be re-elected once. Their term of membership starts on 1 October of the year of their election.
In March 2014, at its twenty-fifth session, the Council elected a new member: Ms. Karla Hananía de Varela (El Salvador).
In September 2013, at its twenty-fourth session, the Council elected five new members: Ms. Hoda Elsadda (Egypt), Mr. Mikhail Lebedev (Russian Federation), Mr. Kaoru Obata (Japan), Mr. Yishan Zhang (China) and Mr. Jean Ziegler (Switzerland). Mr. Alfred Ntunduguru Karokora (Uganda) was re-elected for a second term. One seat for a member of the Committee from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States remains vacant. The election of the member for that group is scheduled to take place at the 25th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2014.
The present composition of the Advisory Committee - with an indication of the expiration of the term of membership in brackets - is as follows:
Saeed Mohamed Al Faihani (Bahrain, 2015); Laurence Boisson de Chazournes (France, 2014); Mario Luis Coriolano (Argentina, 2015); Hoda Elsadda (Egypt, 2016); Karla Hananía de Varela (El Salvador, 2016); Latif Hüseynov (Azerbaijan, 2014); Mikhail Lebedev (Russian Federation, 2016); Alfred Ntunduguru Karokora (Uganda, 2016); Kaoru Obata (Japan, 2016); Obiora Chinedu Okafor (Nigeria, 2014); Katharina Pabel (Austria, 2015); Anantonia Reyes Prado (Guatemala, 2014); Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing (Philippines, 2014); Dheerujlall Seetulsingh (Mauritius, 2014); Ahmer Bilal Soofi (Pakistan, 2014); Imeru Tamrat Yigezu (Ethiopia, 2015); Yishan Zhang (China, 2016) and Jean Ziegler (Switzerland, 2016)
Past mandates and achievements
- Human rights education and training
HRC resolution 6/10 mandated the Advisory Committee to elaborate a draft declaration on human rights education and training. At its fourth session in January 2010, the Committee transmitted a draft declaration to the Council. As a result, an intergovernmental working group established by the Council (HRC res. 13/15) was mandated to finalize the work on a declaration based on the Committee’s draft. In December 2011, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training was endorsed by the General Assembly (GA res. 66/13).
- Missing Persons
At its seventh session (March 2008), the Council adopted resolution 7/28, in which it decided to hold a panel discussion on the question of missing persons at its ninth session (September 2008) with the participation of experts of the ICRC, delegates of Governments and NGOs as well as NHRIs and international organizations. At its ninth session, the Council adopted decision 9/101, which requested the Advisory Committee to prepare a study on best practices on the issue of missing persons, which the Committee transmitted to the Council’s sixteenth session (A/HRC/16/70). In its presidential statement 16/1, the Council noted that this recommendation may be addressed in the context of the Council at its future sessions.
- Leprosy-related Discrimination
In its resolution 10/62, the Council requested the Advisory Committee to formulate a draft set of principles and guidelines to eliminate discrimination against persons affected by leprosy, and their family members, and to submit it to the Council for its consideration. The Committee designated one of its members to formulate this draft of principles and guidelines which were then accepted by the Council and the General Assembly in September and December 2010 respectively (GA resolution 65/215).
- Human Rights and International Solidarity
A mandate has been conferred by Council resolutions 9/2, 12/9 and 15/3 and a first paper prepared by the drafting group on human rights and international solidarity was discussed in January 2011. Two members of the drafting group participated in the workshop (7-8 June 2012) convened by OHCHR pursuant to resolution 18/5, dedicated to exchange views on the gender implications of international solidarity, the impact of a right to international solidarity, the role of international solidarity in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the realization of the right to development.
In its resolution 21/10, the Council took note of the final paper submitted by the Committee (A/HRC/21/66) as an input to the process of elaboration of a draft declaration on the issue. The Council requested the Independent Expert on the issue to submit a report on the implementation of this resolution at its twenty-third session in June 2013.
- Right of Peoples to Peace
Further to the mandate conferred by the Council (HRC res. 14/3), the Committee submitted a draft declaration on the right of peoples to peace to the twentieth session of the Council. As a result, the Council in its resolution 20/15 established an open-ended intergovernmental working group to negotiate a draft declaration based on the draft declaration submitted by the Committee. The Rapporteur of the Committee’s drafting group, Ms. Zulficar, participated in the first session of the working group, which was held from 18 to 21 February 2013. The second session of the working group will be held from 17 to 21 February 2014.
- Traditional values
In its resolution 16/3, the Council requested the Advisory Committee to prepare a study on how a better understanding and appreciation of traditional values of dignity, freedom and responsibility could contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights, and to present that study to the Council before its twenty-first session.
The Committee finalized its study on promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind, which was submitted to the Council’s 22nd session (A/HRC/22/71).
- Terrorist hostage taking
In its resolution 18/10, the Council requested the Committee to prepare a study on the issue of terrorist hostage-taking for the purposes of promoting awareness and understanding, paying particular attention to its impact on human rights and the role of regional and international cooperation in this field. The final report prepared by the drafting group (A/HRC/24/47) was submitted to the twenty-fourth session of the Council in September 2013.
- Human rights in post-disaster and post-conflict situations
Council resolution 22/16 mandated the Committee to prepare a research-based report on best practices and main challenges in the promotion and protection of human rights in post-disaster and post-conflict situations, to be presented to the Council at its 28th session in March 2015. A progress report is to be submitted to the Council at its 26th session in June 2014.
- Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights
Further to the mandate conferred by Council resolution 13/23, the Committee submitted its study on the enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights to the nineteenth session of the Council (A/HRC/19/74). The Council took note of the study and requested OHCHR to organize a Seminar on the matter (resolution 19/33), which was held on 15 February 2013.
In its resolution 23/3, adopted in June 2013, the Council tasked the Committee with the preparation of a more focused and in-depth study on the ways and means to enhance such cooperation and to submit a report at its twenty-sixth session in June 2014.
- Negative impact of corruption on human rights
Council resolution 23/9, adopted in June 2013, mandates the Committee to prepare a research-based report on this matter containing recommendations on how the Council and its subsidiary bodies should consider this issue. The report is to be presented to the Council at its 26th session in June 2014.
- Promoting human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal
In its resolution 24/1, adopted in September 2013, the Council mandated the Committee to prepare a study on the possibilities of using sport and the Olympic ideal to promote human rights for all and to strengthen universal respect for them, bearing in mind both the value of relevant principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter and the value of good sporting example, and to present a progress report thereon to the Council before its 27th session (September 2014).
- Local government and human rights
Council resolution 24/2, adopted in September 2013, took note of the research proposals made by the Advisory Committee in August 2012 (A/HRC/AC/9/6), and mandated the Committee to prepare, from within existing resources, a research-based report on the role of local government in the promotion and protection of human rights, including human rights mainstreaming in local administration and public services, with a view to compiling best practices and main challenges, and to present a progress report on the requested research-based report to the 27th session of the Council (September 2014).
- Human rights and unilateral coercive measures
In its resolution 24/14, adopted in September 2013, the Council mandated the Committee to prepare a research-based report containing recommendations on a mechanism to assess the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights and to promote accountability, and to present a progress report of the requested research-based report to the 28th session of the Council (March 2015).
The resolution also requests the OHCHR to organize, prior to the 27th session, a workshop on the impact of the application of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights by the affected populations, in particular their socioeconomic impact on women and children, in the States targeted, and prepare a report on the proceedings of the workshop and to submit it to the 27th session of the Council (September 2014).
- Attacks against persons with albinism
In September 2013, the Council adopted resolution 24/33 on technical cooperation for the prevention of attacks against persons with albinism, which mandates the Advisory Committee to prepare a study on the situation of human rights of persons living with albinism and to submit a report thereon to the 28th session of the Council (March 2015).
- Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order
HRC resolution 8/5 requested the Committee to pay due attention, within the respective mandates, to the resolution and to make contributions towards its implementation. At its first, second and fourth sessions, the Committee held discussions on the issue.
In its resolution 18/6, the Council established a new special procedures mandate on the matter. The Independent Expert presented his first report to the twenty-first session of the Council (A/HRC/21/45).
- Integration of a gender perspective
In its resolution 6/30, the Council requested the Advisory Committee to integrate a gender perspective into the implementation of its mandate by providing in reports information on and qualitative analysis of human rights of women and girls. The Committee held discussions on this matter at its second and fourth sessions.
- Persons with disabilities
In its resolution 7/9, the Council encouraged the Committee to integrate the perspective of persons with disabilities in carrying out its work. At its first, second and fourth sessions, the Committee held discussions on the issue.
Research proposals of the Committee
Pursuant to paragraph 78 of Council resolution 5/1 (institution-building package), the Committee “shall not adopt resolutions or decisions, but may propose to the Council, within the scope of its work as set out by the Council, suggestions for further enhancing its procedural efficiency, as well as further research proposals within the scope of the work set out by the Council”.
Research proposals emanating from the Committee that have been adopted by the Council for future Committee work, include: Right to Peace, discrimination within the context of the right to food, rights of peasants and rural women.
In August 2010, the Committee expressed the hope that the Council would consider entrusting it with the preparation of a study on the application to older persons on the human rights of older people. There has been no response by the Council on this proposal.
As an annex to the report of its ninth session, the Committee transmitted to the Council for its consideration and approval concept papers for the following five research proposals:
- Access to justice and the fight against corruption
- Local government and human rights
- Globalization, human rights and youth
- Human rights and humanitarian action
- A model law on equal opportunities and non-discrimination
At its twenty-first session, the Council took note of these research proposals.
Modalities & Methods of work
Preparation of studies
In order to produce its studies, the Committee usually forms drafting groups consisting of 4-5 members. The drafting group members work closely with each other through face-to-face meetings and internet communication.
Studies are then presented to the plenary of the Committee for successive rounds of discussion and revision. Drafting groups normally present a preliminary report and a progress report before submitting a final study to the Council.
Interaction with various stakeholders
The normal course of action followed in the preparations of studies includes seeking comments and advice from stakeholders, i.e. member States, international organisations, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organisations through questionnaires.
Civil society organizations and national human rights institutions also participate in the deliberations of the Committee.
Annual report and interactive dialogue
The Chair of the Committee presents the annual report to the Council’s September session. This is followed by an interactive dialogue with States and NGOs.