Established by resolution A/Res/60/251 of 3 April 2006, the Human Rights Council replaces the Commission on Human Rights. It is the principal body of the United Nations in matters relating to human rights. The secretariat of the Council is secured by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
The main features of the Human Rights Council are:
- It is a subsidiary body of the General Assembly (the former Commission had operated under the Economic and Social Council).
- It is composed of 47 Member States (compared with 53 for the Commission).
- The Council is permanent. It meets throughout the year and holds three regular sessions per year totalling at least 10 weeks; each year constitutes a cycle of sessions starting in June.
- Special sessions are also held when requested by at least one-third of the Member States.
- Each State must submit to a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) related to its compliance with its obligations and commitments in the area of human rights.