The Human Rights Council, in its resolution 5/1 of June 2007, included in its Institution-building package the formation of an Advisory Committee to serve as the Council’s “think tank”, providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues. The Committee “replaced the former Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights” of the Commission on Human Rights.
The Committee first met in August 2008 and meets twice a year, for one week in February immediately before the Council session in March and for one week in August, for a maximum of 10 days of work. In addition, “ad hoc sessions can be called in with the agreement of the Council.”
The Advisory Committee provides expertise to the Council in the manner and form requested by it. It mainly focuses on studies and research-based advice. The Committee cannot adopt resolutions or decisions but may propose suggestions for further research.
AccordIng to the OHCHR, “The Committee is composed of 18 independent experts from different professional backgrounds representing the various regions of the world (5 from African States; 5 from Asian States; 2 from Eastern European States; 3 from Latin American and Caribbean States; and 3 from Western European and other States).” Experts are nominated by Governments and then elected by the Council normally during the September session of the Council. “Members serve for a period of three years and may be re-elected once.”
The Committee usually forms drafting groups consisting of 4-5 members from various regional groups to produce its studies. “The normal course of action followed in the preparation of studies includes seeking comments and advice from stakeholders, i.e. member States, international organizations, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations through questionnaires.” Studies are presented to the plenary of the Committee for successive rounds of discussion and revision. “Member States, civil society organizations and national human rights institutions also participate in the deliberations of the Committee.”
The Chair of the Committee presents the annual report to the Human Rights Council at the September session. This is followed by an interactive dialogue with States and NGOs.