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Human Rights Council – Universal Periodic Review

15 May 2009 (afternoon)

For use of information media; not an official record

· The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group concluded its 5th session this afternoon after having reviewed the fulfillment of human rights obligations in 16 States and adopting reports for each State review.

· During the two-week session, which began on 4 May, interactive discussions between the States under review and the Working Group, comprised of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council, and observers, were held during which a wide range of human rights issues were raised.

· Speaking at the close of the session, MARTIN IHOEGHIAN UHOMOIBHI (Nigeria), President of the Human Rights Council, affirmed that with the conclusion of the session, the Human Rights Council Working Group had now reviewed the human rights records of 80 countries. The high number of speakers, coupled with the very high-level of attendance from the States under review, was further evidence of the great importance the international community attached to this process. "The UPR has made good progress well beyond these halls", he added. "Several States that have undergone their review have already begun implementing recommendations proposed to them by States. Some of these States have adopted new polices, programmes and measures aimed at improving the human rights situations in their countries for the benefit of their citizens and their peoples. This includes the commitments from the 16 States just reviewed during this session. Upon adopting the reports of the Working Group, the States under review spelled out the fact that they are ready to move to the next stages of follow-up and implementation. To me, this is very encouraging and is yet further evidence of the value of the UPR", the President said.

· The fifth group of States to have their human rights records reviewed under the UPR process were, in order of review: the Central African Republic, Monaco, Belize, Chad, Congo, Malta, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Chile, Viet Nam, Uruguay, Yemen, Vanuatu, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Comoros and the Slovak Republic.

· This afternoon, the Working Group also adopted, ad referendum, the reports on the Vanuatu, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Comoros and the Slovak Republic. All reports were prepared and presented by groups of three Council members, or troikas, who served as rapporteurs for each of the country reviews.

· Adoption of report on the Vanuatu: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report on Vanuatu are Chile, Djibouti and India. Introducing the report GOPINATHAN ACHAMKULANGARE (India) noted that the delegation of Vanuatu had been attentive to the recommendations and suggestions made by the members of the Working Group and expressed hope that the delegation of Vanuatu had benefited from the interactions during the course of its review and that the Government will apply constructively all recommendations that enjoyed its support. Representing the State under review ROLINE LESINES, Vice-Chairperson of Vanuatu UPR Committee, said her delegation learned a lot from the recommendations and comments made, which would help Vanuatu in implementing its commitment to promote and protect human rights in the country. Vanuatu would report back to the Human Rights Council at its 12th session in September on all the recommendations made.

· Adoption of report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are the Slovak Republic, Bangladesh and Germany. Introducing the report REINHARD SCHWEPPE (Germany) said the report gave testimony to the strong commitment of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to human rights against the background of a difficult transition from a former Yugoslav republic of Yugoslavia to a sovereign democratic State. Representing the State under review GORGI AVRAMCHEV, Permanent Representative of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said his delegation fully engaged in the dialogue in order to present a clear picture of the human rights situation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The review provided the delegation with an opportunity to spell out the advancements made in the area of human rights in the country and the majority of the recommendations presented in the report were accepted by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

· Adoption of report on the Comoros: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report on Comoros are Ghana, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Introducing the report PETER GOODERHAM (United Kingdom) underlined the constructive and serious approach to the UPR taken by the Comoros. Their willingness to discuss frankly both the areas where more needed to be done, was to their credit. Of particular note was the ability of a small delegation without Geneva representation to make such a contribution to the process. It was also noted that Comoros chose to provide its response to all the recommendations. Representing the State under review MOHAMED JAFFAR ABBAS, Secretary-General of the Ministry of the Civil Service of the Administrative and Institutional Reforms and of Human Rights, said the participation of his country in the review was testament to its commitment to upholding human rights for all its citizens. The recommendations would serve well as a tool to guide the Comoros towards further implementing human rights in the country.

· Adoption of report on the Slovak Republic: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report on the Slovak Republic are Angola, Chile and Pakistan. Introducing the report ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan) reported that the review of the Slovak Republic, which took place on 13 May, was held in a very constructive and cooperative atmosphere. It was recalled that 48 countries participated in the discussions and expressed their views on the human rights situation in the Slovak Republic. Representing the State under review ANTON PINTER, Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said his delegation learned a great deal about how United Nations members viewed the human rights situation in the Slovak Republic. The Government would persevere to improve the situation of human rights for all persons in the country. The Government would study all of the recommendations made and report back on them to the Human Rights Council in due course.

· The next session of the UPR Working Group will take place from 30 November to 11 December 2009, during which the next group of 16 States will have their human rights obligations reviewed. The States to be reviewed during the next session are, in order of review: Eritrea, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Norway, Albania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Portugal, Bhutan, Dominica, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Brunei Darussalam, Costa Rica, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia.

Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the UPR webpage - http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx. To access the webcast for the UPR session please visit http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/index.asp.

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