Our President, Dr. Bertrand G. Ramcharan, just released a book on the work of the Human Rights Council (HRC) ("The UN Human Rights Council", Routledge, 2011). This book takes stock of the first five years of the HRC and reviews its different procedures and mechanisms.
According to Dr. Ramcharan, the record of the HRC in setting up new human rights standards and in taking forward the work of special procedures is of continuity with the work of the Commission of Human Rights. Concerning the complaint procedure, he considers that little has been done in practice. The UPR is deemed the flagship procedure of the HRC with potential for good but judgement must be reserved for after the second cycle.
In terms of human rights protection, the HRC deserve credits for its reactions to emergencies and armed conflicts despite some failures such as on Sri Lanka. However, he points out that the HRC has been clearly failing to assume its responsibilities to protect peoples when governments has been violating human rights grossly.
You can read a summary of the book in the latest issue of UN Special.