When the Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to replace the woeful Human Rights Commission, one novelty assigned to the new body was the Universal Periodic Review, which would, over a period of four years, methodically assess the rights records of all UN member nations for the first time. On Oct.13, the process was completed, with Haiti the final country to be surveyed in this initial round of reports.
The United States willingly took part in the review, a refreshing change of attitude as the Obama administration joined the Council and had begun to take an active part in its deliberations. With Americans in the lead, progress made on numerous fronts in the Council, which passed resolutions on freedom of speech and assembly and set in motion a plan to chart laws around the world that discriminate against women or are harmful to them.
The Council’s review schedule is comprehensive, allowing governments and their critics a voice. The debates that ensued as countries submitted their reports were often lively. For more information, check the Council Web site www.ohchr.org