It was in Geneva that the secretariat of the forerunner of the United Nations Organization, the League of Nations founded in 1920, was set up, and in 1936 that it eventually moved into the building in use to this day. Hungarian architect József Vágó was among the five designers of the Palais des Nations. Following the dissolution of the League of Nations in 1946, the premises were ceded to the newly established United Nations Organization, and thus it was here in Geneva that the European office of the world organization was established, bearing the title United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) since 1966. Geneva has traditionally been a centre for negotiations on disarmament and non-proliferation, but human rights, humanitarian issues as well as sustainable development are equally the subject of numerous conferences. The Office is the second largest UN headquarters after New York, with 1600 staff servicing about 8000 meetings every year. UNOG maintains strong ties with permanent representations of Member States, the host country, the numerous international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations based in Geneva, as well as academics, thus facilitating dialogue among nations and organizations. It is headed by a Director-General, who is directly responsible to the UN Secretary General and, as his Special Representative, also serves as the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament.

In 2005, the United Nations celebrated 60 years of existence. Hungary’s membership also goes back to more than 50 years. Witnessing and, in many respects, catalysing the momentous transformation of our world since its inception, the Organization is now facing important changes. An international organization conceived on the basis of the political realities of the middle of the 20th century needs to be adapted to our times. In the reform process, the new realities of global politics will have to be coupled with the necessity to come up with adequate answers to the complex challenges of the 21st century (proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism and other global problems).

The World Summit of September 2005 (Major Event) was an important step in this process, when not only the reform of the UN, but also the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals was reviewed. The Outcome Document adopted by the heads of State and government reaffirms their commitment to the objectives of the United Nations and the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, the realization of initiatives aimed to strengthen international peace and security and the protection of human rights, as well as the necessary institutional reforms.

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The September 2005 World Summit decided to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR), a functional commission of ECOSOC, by a new body, elevating human rights issues to the same level as those of security and development. As a result of lengthy negotiations, on 15 March 2006 Resolution 60/251 was adopted by the General Assembly, creating the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC).

The mandate of the Human Rights Council is to promote respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It addresses violations of human rights, including massive and systematic abuses, and adopts recommendations thereon. The Council is a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, which will review its status after the first five years. The Human Rights Council has 47 members (slightly less than the former CHR), who are elected by the General Assembly with a 2/3 majority.

The first session of the Human Rights Council took place from 19 to 30 June 2006, and decided, above all, about the framework of the Council’s activities for the first year, during which it has to address its future methods of work and new tasks. In the period between June 2006 and June 2007, the Council has to review and rationalize all thematic or country-specific special procedures created by the former Commission on Human Rights, as well as establish a universal periodic review mechanism for an impartial scrutiny of the human rights record of all countries.

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As a member state of the European Union, Hungary strongly believes in and supports the comprehensive reform of the United Nations’ activities, which it considers as the means for achieving our common goal of ensuring an effective multilateralism and adapting the organization to fundamentally changing circumstances. The Government of the Republic of Hungary aims to play an active and positive role in the process of creating a renewed, efficient world organization.