The creation of a new and authoritative Human Rights Council to replace the Commission on Human Rights was one of Koﬁ Annan’s most cherished reforms. Having linked security, development and human rights closely as part of his new conceptualization of the wider organization, it made sense to establish a new human rights body and then place it on the same footing as the Security Council and ECOSOC. These organs would combine to take the UN’s agenda forward in the three most important areas of its work. Annan believed that the Commission on Human Rights had failed. Its
credibility had been badly dented by politicization, opportunism and selfserving behaviour among the membership. The reformed body, he hoped, would act more collaboratively and dispassionately. One further, incidental beneﬁt attaching to the proposal was that it would help cement the US’s continued participation in, and support for, the world organization. The establishment of the Council was a central and non-negotiable component of the Bush administration’s drive for wider UN reform. The High-Level Panel had made an initial proposal for a reformed Com-
mission. Annan’s initiative, however, diﬀered considerably from that which the Panel had contemplated. The Panel had wanted a new body having universal membership to underscore that all its members would be committed to the promotion of human rights. It recommended that heads of delegations would be drawn from human rights experts and that the Commission would be assisted by an advisory council of independent experts chosen for their special knowledge and skills (High-Level Panel, 2004, 74). The Secretary-General
argued instead for a smaller Council, elected by the General Assembly, operating more ﬂexibly and eﬃciently, with a select membership from countries having a demonstrable commitment to protecting human rights globally. In Larger Freedom described the proposal as one where:
183 … Member states would need to decide if they want the Human Rights Council to be a principal organ of the United Nations or a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, but in either case its members would be elected directly by the General Assembly by a two-thirds majority of members present and voting. The creation of the Council would accord human rights a more authoritative position, corresponding to the primacy of human rights in the Charter of the United Nations. Member states should determine the composition of the Council and the term of oﬃce of its members. Those elected to the Council should undertake to abide by the highest human rights standards.