The Human Rights Council, comprising 47 elected States (among them 13 States from Africa), replaced the Commission on Human Rights in June 2006. It now meets several times for no less than 10 weeks a year under new procedures. The Council is a subsidiary body of the General Assembly and is responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedom for all.
One of the innovations being introduced is the Universal Periodic Review mechanism which will assess the human rights situations in all 192 UN Member States. The first session of UPR Working Groups started in April 2008. Additional, credible and reliable information provided by NGOs will be taken into consideration by the Council. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will prepare a summary of such information.
States have to justify their candidature for becoming a member of the Human Rights Council in writing. They are elected for a three-years-term by the UN General Assembly. The candidatures of the States and the current members from Africa and other continents can be found here:
The Human Rights Council has its own complaint procedure, similar to the former 1503 procedure of its predecessor. Important to note is that individual cases as such are not examined under this procedure; communications are merely collected in order to identify a situation involving consistent patterns of flagrant and systematic violations of human rights.
Many of the Special Procedures that have been founded by the Human Rights Council can be invoked as well.