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date: 09 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the UN’s role in creating the international human rights system, with descriptions of key UN human rights instruments, mechanisms and bodies (notably the Human Rights Council), as well as information on other parts of the organization tasked with promoting and protecting human rights. It also considers opportunities and challenges for norm development and institutional advances over the next decade. The chapter argues that while human rights are recognized as one of the UN’s main purposes, with every member state having some degree of involvement with human rights laws and machinery, this area remains a source of contention, raising issues of legitimacy, universality, and sovereignty. At the same time, this so-called pillar of the UN has produced some of the organization’s most transformative successes, at the normative level and on the ground.

Keywords: human rights, human rights instruments, human rights machinery, norms, universality, sovereignty, accountability, Human Rights Council

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