The UN Human Rights Council

A Practical Anatomy, Interview with Eric Tistounet

Everything you always wanted to know about the main UN body that works to address human rights violations, and you were afraid to ask, is in this guide published by Elgar, written by Eric Tistounet, Chief of the Human Rights Council Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Geneva.

He was the first Secretary to the UN Human Rights Council when it was created in 2006, and has worked at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN agency for Human Rights (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR) for three decades, so knows the organization inside out.

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Tistounet draws analogies with the workings of the human body, an interesting take, as the human body is a living organism that does evolve and grow, and so is the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and so are its country-members, as well as the multiple stakeholders who participate in the sessions and discussions in Geneva, from private sector actors to NGOs and scholars in the field of Human Rights, who are looking for clear guidance in matters of human rights violations, and want to develop a solid base for policies and domestic legal frameworks.

The book seeks to clarify procedures, examines changes, and goes underneath the skin of the Council to understand its various procedures in an effort to keep the whole working in an orderly manner, as the world increasingly clamors for justice and brings cases to Geneva to have the UNHRC look and address the gross human rights violations that are reported in their home countries, but most often fall in deaf ears.

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The HRC can barely keep up with the demand, as human rights violations are increasing worldwide, and not only because the very definition of what constitutes a human rights violation is better understood by governments, businesses, and civil society but because conflict, wars, a global pandemic, and extreme weather events continue to create human population displacement at a massive scale, creating the perfect storm for human rights violations.

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I interviewed Eric Tistounet, the author of this comprehensive, thorough, guide that dissects the workings of the UN Human Rights Council, explains its foundation, how it came to be, and how its procedures have been streamlined, or not, and how they can evolve.

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This timely publication is addressed to diplomats, private sector partners, NGOs, the news media, and anyone who participates or will participate in the Human Rights Council sessions and proceedings in Geneva, and who work preparing and reviewing the Universal Periodic Reviews (UPRs) of UN country-members legal frameworks, to monitor the progress they make respecting and adopting international law.

Students of International Relations, International Human Rights Law, and Comparative Politics will find this guide essential to understand the evolution of political thought in the realm of Human Rights, and how institutions such as the United Nations, the Human Rights Council, and its country-members — through the open processes of multilateralism — shape civil, international, and criminal law.

This is an in-depth review of the challenges present when developing and fleshing out the HRC rules and mandates, the horizon ahead and how successes were achieved, written in an accessible language for those who want to understand the complexities and the evolution of the Human Rights Council, by the person who has steered its course and helped shape its structure.

Created in 2006, the Human Rights Council has expanded to accommodate requests for inquiry on allegations of human rights abuses, to provide guidelines for countries to improve their human rights legal framework, and much more.

Watch my interview with Eric Tistounet to learn more about the objectives of the Human Rights Council, why are UPRs an indispensable mechanism for nations to advance their human rights agenda, and the role of interactions between governments. See how NGOs, the private sector, and social media platforms added layers to the work of the HRC, and in which ways the digital transformation of our societies is impacting the work of the Human Rights Council.

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To purchase the book go to Elgar Publishing

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