The UN's Human Rights Council has agreed to a new set of rules which will oblige all member states to have their rights records regularly scrutinised.
Sudan remains on the council's list of countries needing special scrutiny
The deal came after 14 hours of negotiations and objections from China which threatened to block an agreement.
The council also decided to remove Cuba and Belarus from a list of countries under special investigation.
The 47-member council, which aims to uphold human rights around the world, was established last year.
Correspondents say the last-minute deal prevents the fledgling council, which replaces the discredited Human Rights Commission, from failing to agree on its own governing rules.
"We have all made compromises, it is not a perfect text. Negotiations never achieve a perfect text," said Council President Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico.
Under the "universal periodic review" mechanism, the human rights record of all countries will face regular scrutiny.
China had demanded that two-thirds of the council's members should agree before any special investigation of alleged rights violations begins.
Instead, members agreed that resolutions to investigate specific countries should have "the broadest possible support" before being put forward for approval.
Nine countries - including North Korea, Cambodia and Sudan - remain on the council's list of states meriting special scrutiny.