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A global human rights map: The Universal Periodic Review goes into its second round

All 193 Member States participated in the first round of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), including South Sudan, the most recent nation to join the UN.

Describing the UPR as unique, Council President, Laura Dupuy Lasserre says the Review provides “a comprehensive map on human rights situations around the globe.”

In 2006 when the UN General Assembly established the Human Rights Council it resolved that the human rights records of Member States should be regularly reviewed with the full involvement of individual governments and supported by expert assistance from the Human Rights Council.

Each State is assessed every four years by a working group which is made up of representatives from all 47 member states of the Council. The outcome reports are subsequently presented to the Human Rights Council for further discussion, if necessary, and adoption.

The Human Rights office acts as the secretariat to the Review and, when invited by governments, provides technical support and assistance to enable implementation and compliance with the provisions of the UN human rights treaties. 

In her opening address to the March session of the Council, UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay said the success of the UPR was a “significant achievement” which had led to positive legislative and policy change.

The Review offers States “an opportunity for sharing of experiences and best practices and an occasion for self-reflection in a constructive spirit”, Dupuy Lasserre says. The involvement of other stakeholders – National Human Rights Institutions, NGOs and UN country teams has also been crucial, she says, and will continue to be, in analysing the implementation of recommendations.

In the second round of the UPR, which begins in May, States will be reporting on progress in implementing the recommendations made after the first assessment.  Many see this as the “moment of truth”.

In her speech to the Council, Pillay said the second cycle which presents States with an opportunity to evaluate implementation of recommendations the first time round, “will test the mechanism’s value and credibility.” She called on States “to be impartial, objective and realistic in assessing the human rights situation and putting forward new recommendations… “

21 March 2012

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