Universal Periodic Review

Second session meeting highlights

19 May 2008 (afternoon)
For use of information media; not an official record

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

The second group of States to have their human rights records reviewed under the UPR mechanism during the session were: Gabon, Ghana, Peru, Guatemala, Benin, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Pakistan, Zambia, Japan, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, France, Tonga, Romania and Mali.

During the two-week session, which began on 5 May, interactive dialogues 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, the President of the Human Rights Council, DORU ROMULUS COSTEA (Romania), noting that much important work had been achieved not only over the last two weeks but also during the first Session of the Working Group, which was held from 7 to 8 April, said: “The process has started and all countries have committed themselves to participate, prepare and have an interactive dialogue; at the end of the day it was this dialogue which ended in results”. While noting that there was still a long way to go to bring this exercise to satisfactory completion he added that “the UPR is a process which did not end with the adoption of the report.”

This afternoon, the Working Group also adopted, ad referendum, the reports on France, Tonga, Romania, Mali and Sri Lanka. 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 France: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report of France are Zambia, Italy and Malaysia. Introducing the report on behalf of the troika GIOVANNI CARACCIOLO DI VIETRI (Italy) thanked the delegation of France for the quality of the national report and for the quality and transparency demonstrated during the review. The report summarized the key elements of the statement made by the head of the French delegation and the following discussion with States, 40 of whom took the floor. In total, 33 recommendations were made, as reflected in the report, and France would reply to these during the regular session of the Human Rights Council next month. Representing the State under review, JEAN BAPTISTE MATTEI, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said his delegation took note of the recommendations in the report and would consider them with care and duly comment on them at the eighth regular session of the Council in June. France hoped to draw the maximum possible benefit from the UPR process in order to advance human rights in the country.

Adoption of report on Tonga: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report of Tonga are Nigeria, Qatar and Mexico. Introducing the report on behalf of the troika MABEL GÓMEZ OLIVER (Mexico) said the report was a reflection of the discussion held during the interactive dialogue during which 34 delegations participated with comments, questions and recommendations. The troika wished to emphasize the high level of commitment of Tonga to the UPR process, despite its resources limitations. Tonga had already accepted most of the recommendations made to it during the interactive dialogue. The troika viewed Tonga as a State which showed the potential of cooperation between the UPR mechanism and Small States. Representing the State under review, Representing the State under review SOMATANE TU’AKINAMOLAHI TAUMOEPEAU TUPOU, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Acting Minister of Defence and Acting Governor of Vava’u, said in achieving the common goals that Tonga shared with other States towards the promotion and protection of human rights it was clear that there was no magic cure in reaching that goal. Tonga continued to be inspired by the steadfast commitment demonstrated by those who were dedicated to improving human rights machinery and the improvement of human rights’ situations on the ground. Tonga hoped that the UPR would achieve its highest ideals.

Adoption of report on Romania: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report of Romania are Angola, Canada and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Introducing the report on behalf of the troika MARIUS GRINIUS (Canada) noted that during the interactive dialogue 38 delegations participated many of whom thanked the Romanian delegations for its excellent works, as well as for Ambassador Defamation of religion Costea, current President of the Human Rights Council, for his outstanding work. The troika thanked Romania and the UPR Secretariat for its excellent work in drafting the report. Representing the State under review, DORU ROMULUS COSTEA, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said all contributions expressed in the report would be closely and carefully studied by the Romanian authorities. Responses to the recommendations would be made in due course well in time for the upcoming regular session of the Council. Romanian authorities were closely working together in implementing human rights policies in the country and would take further steps to implement recommendations in the report to be turned into facts. Romania hoped that the UPR mechanism would prove that the credibility of the Human Rights Council could be greatly enhanced by properly ensuring the functioning of this mechanism.

Adoption of report on Mali: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report of Mali are Mauritius, Brazil and Japan. Introducing the report on behalf of the troika MAKIO MIYAGAWA (Japan) said the troika was satisfied to note that the dialogue in the review covered a variety of human rights issues of Mali, and the report concluded and now presented to the Working Group comprehensively reflected the dialogue made and recommendations proposed in the review. The report contained 21 recommendations, five of which enjoyed the immediate support of Mali, and others which the State would consider and respond to before the upcoming regular session of the Council. There was only one recommendation which did not have the support of Mali. Representing the State under review, BACARY TRAORE, Technical Advisor in the Ministry of the Promotion of Women, Children and the Family, said Mali was of the view that the comments reflected in the report served as a form of encouragement to Mali for the State to press on in the fulfilment of its obligations to promote and protect human rights in Mali. The Government of Mali would spare no efforts to draw necessary lessons from this exercise as a means to measure the strengths and weaknesses in its human rights system.

FRANCIS NGANTCHA (Cameroon) commended the commitment and determination of Sri Lanka and thanked the Secretariat and the troika for its hard work in drafting the report. It was noted that the report consisted of 28 pages and contained recommendations divided into three headings: accepted by the State under review, required further consideration by the State, and rejected by the State. Representing the State under review DAYAN JAYATILLEKA, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said 13 May was not only the day for Sri Lanka’s review, but also the day when one of the best known human rights advocates was murdered by Tamil rebels. The victim’s killing summed up the challenges facing Sri Lanka in its efforts to promote and protect human rights in the country. Moreover, in the last few days there was another terrorist attack in Colombo which claimed the lives of innocent victims. On a positive note, it was noted that a former child soldier was sworn in to a government position in the last few days. Also speaking on behalf of the State under review was SHIRANI GOONETELLEKE, Director of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process, who said Sri Lanka was committed to the objective of the UPR mechanism in identifying ways in which the international community could work in partnership to ensure the enjoyment of all rights by all persons, in a practical way. Sri Lanka benefited by the many constructive suggestions and recommendations and had done its utmost to accept as many recommendations as possible, over half, which indicated the esteem in which it held the Council and its willingness to cooperate with it. Sri Lanka had also announced a number of voluntary commitments to further the promotion and protection of human rights in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was committed to the success of the UP.R process as a whole and the development of the Human Rights Council into a truly global forum on human rights that it was formed to be.

The 32 reports adopted during the first and second session of the UPR Working Group will be considered by the Human Rights Council, in plenary session, at its eighth session next June, which will ne held from 2 to 18 June 2008.

The next session of the UPR Working Group will take place from 1 to 12 December 2008 during which the next group of 16 States will have their human rights obligations reviewed. The States to be reviewed during this third session of the UPR Review Working Group are (in order of review): Botswana, Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein, Serbia, Turkmenistan, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Colombia, Uzbekistan and Tuvalu.

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