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News Service for the 59th United Nations Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

Project at a glance

Dates and Place

17 March - 25 April 2003, Geneva, Switzerland
United Nations


The News Service for the 59th Commission on Human Rights is being organized by the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Status with the United Nations (CONGO).

Project details

United Nations Commission On Human Rights

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights is the world's foremost human rights forum. Established in 1946 to weave the international legal fabric that protects our fundamental rights and freedoms, its brief has expanded over time to allow it to respond to the whole range of human rights problems. The Commission continues to set standards to govern the conduct of States; but it also acts as a forum where countries large and small, non-governmental groups and human rights defenders from around the world can voice their concerns.

The Early Years
Under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, its first Chairperson, the Commission drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. It went on to draft the two other pillars of what has come to be known as the International Bill of Human Rights: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In 1967, the Commission began to expand its role from promoter to protector of human rights, establishing a panel to investigate the deteriorating situation in southern Africa. Today, the Commission has issued 38 distinct mandates to investigate abuses around the world. (See fact sheet on Experts.)

How Does The Commission Work?
The Commission is composed of 53 States and meets annually in Geneva in March and April for six weeks. States and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) present information of concern to them, with the governments involved often submitting replies. In light of the examination of such situations, fact-finding groups or experts may be designated and on-the-spot visits may be organized. The Commission may pursue discussions with governments concerned, provide advisory services and condemn violations and violators.

The Commission may also meet between sessions to deal with urgent human rights situations. Such special sessions have taken place five times: twice during the 1992 crises in the former Yugoslavia, in 1994 over the atrocities in Rwanda, in 1999 to discuss the East Timor situation and in 2000 concerning violations of Palestinian human rights by Israel.

The Chairpersonship rotates each year among the five United Nations regional groupings: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and the Western group. [Source: UNHCHR]

Fifty-ninth Session of the Commission
The fifty-ninth session of the Commission on Human Rights, which was opened on 20 January 2003, will resume its work from 17 March to 25 April 2003. The opening meeting followed by the High Level Segment (17 March (afternoon)? 20 March 2003) will be held in the Salle des Assemblées. The session will then continue in conference room XVII of the Palais des Nations, United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).

External links

http://www.room17.orgCONGO News Center for the 59th Session of the Commission on Human Rights

Volunteering Opportunities

Volunteer reporters of ICVolunteers are working with the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Status with the United Nations (CONGO). They are writing session summaries and interviewing delegates.

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