57th session, Geneva (25 July - 12 August 2005)
The United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights is the main subsidiary body of the Commission on Human Rights. Originally the “Sub Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities”, it was established in 1947 with 12 members and renamed in 1999. Today, it is comprised of 26 independent experts in the field of human rights who are elected by the Commission, with due regard to equitable geographical distribution, and who act in their personal capacity. Half the membership is elected every two years for a four-year term. In 2005, the membership consists of seven experts from Africa , five from Asia , five from Latin America , three from Eastern Europe and six from Western European and other States.
Each year the Sub-Commission holds its regular session in July/August for three weeks in Geneva . In addition to the members, the annual session is attended by about 1,000 observers, including representatives of States, United Nations bodies and specialized agencies, other intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations having consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.
The central task entrusted to the Sub-Commission is to assist the Commission on Human Rights in its work. Its main functions are to undertake studies on human rights issues, to make recommendations to the Commission concerning the prevention of discrimination of any kind relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms and the protection of racial, national, religious and linguistic minorities, and to carry out any other functions which may be entrusted to it by the Council or the Commission. The Sub Commission is often described as a “think tank” for the Commission on Human Rights. Studies undertaken have addressed various aspects of the realization of human rights, the administration of justice, combating discrimination and protecting the human rights of minorities, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups. On several occasions the Commission has highlighted the importance of those studies and the recommendations based on them to its work.
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