Human Rights Law Case Study

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International Implementation of Human Rights Law

Each country has the obligation to implement human rights law within its jurisdiction properly done through municipal or regional courts.

ECOSOC has established two different procedures used by Human Rights Commission for responding to violations of human rights: (a) Confidential consideration under ECOSOC Resolution 1503 and (b) Public debate procedure under ECOSOC Resolution 1235

The 1235 Procedure

A. History, Nature and Significance


The Commission on Human Rights was established in 1946 as a subsidiary organ of ECOSOC. For its first twenty years, it took the view that it had no authority to take any action with regard to reported violations of human rights. A significant
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By resolution 1235 (XLII), ECOSOC authorized the Commission on Human Rights and the Subcommission ‘to examine information relevant to gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms’ and to ‘make a thorough study of situations which reveal a consistent pattern of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms’ and to make recommendations.


Faced with allegations of human rights violations, particularly in apartheid South Africa, the Commission had to devise a system for the consideration of complaints. Two mechanisms emerged, the "1235" and "1503" procedures, adopted in 1959 and 1970, respectively, each named after the Economic and Social Council resolution establishing them. Both mechanisms dealt only with situations of gross human rights violations. The difference was that the "1235" procedure entailed a public discussion while "1503" remained confidential.

This procedure is primarily political in nature, in so far as their operation is ultimately dependent upon decisions being taken within the commission itself (which is composed of UN member
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Based on its own study the Commission makes recommendations to the Economic and Security Council. Individuals cannot use the 1235 Procedure, although NGOs can access this mechanism.

Thus, it is actually one of the criticisms against this procedure is that the mechanism based on ECOSOC Resolution 1235 was rather selective. Only states that were accused of violating human rights were addressed by the condemning resolution of the CHR and the General Assembly. This was perceived by many developing countries as being unfair, since the exigencies of many of those states were not adequately taken up into consideration.

The Resolution authorized the Commission and its Subsidiary Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities to examine reports relevant to gross violations of human rights, whether the violations revealed a consistent pattern, and thereafter, make recommendations to ECOSOC. It also provide for a range of follow-up measures that includes the conduct of on-site visits to states and the drafting of reports by Country or Thematic Special Rapporteurs, Representatives, Experts and Working
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