Human Rights Council
29 June 2012
The Human Rights Council this afternoon held general debates on human rights bodies and mechanisms and on the Universal Periodic Review.
During the debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, delegations recognized the important contribution that Special Procedures made to the promotion and protection of human rights and the fulfillment of States’ human rights commitments. Some speakers expressed concerns about the focus on violations in the creation of mandates, the importance of providing sufficient funding for their work and ensuring their independence. Speakers welcomed the work of the Advisory Committee on a draft declaration on the right of peoples to peace and noted the need for its progressive development and codification. Some speakers expressed concerns about the situation of indigenous peoples in several parts of the world and the need to ensure the fulfillment of their right to self determination. Speakers also noted the unequal treatment conceded to indigenous peoples and their participation in international fora.
Speaking in the general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms were Denmark on behalf of the European Union, Senegal on behalf of the African Group, Russian Federation on behalf of a group of States, Spain, Hungary, China, Cuba, India, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Algeria, Sudan, Viet Nam, Bolivia, Luxembourg and Venezuela, as well as the Council of Europe and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: International Commission of Jurists, International Association of Peace Messenger Cities, Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXI, Foodfirst Information and Action Networks, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, Liberation, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, International Buddhist Relief Organisation, Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Organisation for Defending Victims of Violence, Worldwide Organization for Women, Commission africaine des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l’homme, Verein Sudwind, Indian Council of South America, International Committee for the Indians of the Americas, North-South XXI and Comité International Pour le Respect et l’Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme.
In the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review, delegations welcomed the second Universal Periodic Review cycle and the importance of the recommendations in addressing and improving human rights everywhere. Some speakers expressed concern about new rules introduced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights which countered the original provisions accorded by States.
Participants also expressed concerns about the publication of media highlights which accorded unequal treatment to countries and recommendations. In response, the Secretariat suggested discussing this issue further with interested delegations. The resources were limited and it would not be possible to produce press releases similar to the United Nations Department of Public Information’s coverage of the Council’s plenary meetings.
Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review were Denmark on behalf of the European Union, Russia Federation, Norway, China, United States of America, Indonesia, Malaysia, Austria, Cuba, India, Bangladesh, Morocco, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Sudan, Republic of Korea, Azerbaijan, Iran, Slovenia, United Kingdom and Brazil.
Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Geneva for Human Rights, International Commission of Jurists, Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, Action Canada for Population and Development, and Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”.
The Human Rights Council will next meet on Monday, 2 July, at 10 a.m., when it will hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and consider reports by the High Commissioner and the United Nations Secretary-General presented under its agenda items on the annual report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General; and on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.
The Council has before it the report of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee on the draft declaration on the right of peoples to peace (A/HRC/20/31)
The Council has before it the communications report of Special Procedures (A/HRC/20/30)
General Debate on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms
Denmark, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the report provided a solid basis for further concrete steps. The intergovernmental process in New York needed to include more relevant stakeholders than just States, in particular civil society and the treaty body members themselves. The European Union was aware of the lack of resources as the system currently operated, which constituted a growing structural problem in light of the expansion of the treaty body system. It took note of the conclusion of the draft declaration of the Advisory Committee on the right to peace, but maintained the view that the right to peace did not exist under international law.
Senegal, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the right to peace was based on the key principles of respect, dignity, solidarity, coexistence between peoples and nations, equality, justice, rejection of violence, conflict prevention and settlement through peaceful means. The African Group confirmed its support for the draft declaration on the right to peace. Now that the Committee’s mandate had ended the Council must decide which road to follow. The process of consultation on the draft declaration on the right to peace should be transparent, constructive and inclusive, and should take place within an intergovernmental framework. The African Group reserved its position regarding subjects which went beyond the competence of the Council.
Russia, speaking on behalf of a group of States, urged the mandate-holders to exercise their functions in accordance with their mandates and focus on their implementation in accordance with international human rights law. Going beyond the scope of mandates, as well as selectivity in discharging the mandates, was counterproductive. Objective and reliable information was a crucial factor in helping mandate-holders achieve the best results and therefore it was imperative they always sought to establish the facts based on objective, reliable information from credible sources, duly cross-checked to the every extent possible. Another key element of efficient work was cooperation and constructive dialogue between States and mandate-holders.
Spain welcomed the broad participation, including the participation of civil society, in the different meetings which had been organized by the Office of the High Commissioner since 2009. The current economic crisis called for optimized efficiency of available resources. The conclusions adopted at different meetings were vital issues that had to be viewed as the foundation for the sustainability of the system. Concerning complaint procedures, Spain said that the process was important for individuals who wished to denounce human rights violations.
Hungary said recent cases of reprisals against human rights defenders made it clear that an atmosphere of intimidation posed a threat to the entire United Nations system. Firmness and determination should be the golden standard in the Council, which was one of the custodians of human rights. Individuals should not be subjected to ill-treatment because of their cooperation with the Council. Hungary said that the incidents reported even in Geneva while the Council was in session were alarming and that this distressing trend must end.
China said that international disputes should be resolved through peaceful means rather than by war and that use or threat of use of force should be avoided. The right to peace and development were complementary and important human rights. Special Procedures should strengthen their screening of the information they received from different sources, because accusations by any of those sources without evidence could undermine the whole procedure.
Cuba said the right of peoples to peace was raised by the General Assembly in 1984, in resolution 39/11, but little was known about concrete efforts and mechanisms to ensure its implementation. The reality seemed far away, as attested by the prevalence of rapacious conflict. Violations to the right to life continued to raise concerns, in particular the increasing number of civilian victims in modern conflicts, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Peoples had the right to peace without distinction or discrimination. Cuba wanted an intergovernmental working group with the mandate to negotiate a declaration on the right to peace and hoped the Council would support that resolution.
India said it had extended a standing invitation to and considered additional visits from the Special Procedure mandate holders but was concerned about the tendency by some mandate holders to disregard the provisions of the Code of Conduct. Special Rapporteurs must ensure that concerned Governments were the first recipients of their concluding recommendations and given time to respond. The need for geographical representation should be taken into account, while the Council should recognise that financial constraints limited the proper functioning of Special Procedures; their independence must be absolute in every sense.
Costa Rica spoke about the work of the Advisory Committee and the draft declaration on the right to peace requested by the Council in resolution 14/3. Costa Rica expressed unequivocal support for the pending recognition of the right to peace and its progressive codification and urged States to support the draft resolution on establishing a Working Group on the right to peace. The Council was the place to develop a consensus on the right to peace and its progressive development and codification.
Ecuador said the Advisory Committee’s study on the rights of farmers and others working in rural areas should be taken into account by the Council as those were the same people who had suffered from the world economic crisis. A working group of an open ended nature to work on the draft declaration on the rights of farmers should be advanced, and in light of current circumstances was indispensable. There should also be new Special Procedure to promote and protect the rights of people working in rural zones, a matter which Ecuador did not feel had received the attention or priority it deserved.
Algeria said that the right to peace was indeed of prime importance and should be given pride of place in the international community, elements of which could be found in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Though the draft declaration did not at first sight enjoy general consensus, it was a starting point for debate. The establishment of an intergovernmental working group seemed to be the best solution that would allow for a broad and inclusive debate on the right to peace and the related draft United Nations declaration.
Sudan called upon the Council and the international community to exert every effort to realize the principles enshrined in the declaration on the right to peace. In spite of all the sacrifices for peace Sudan still faced aggression and threats that affected the human rights of all Sudanese. It called upon all States to support it in realizing peace and security and to urge all parties to resort to peace. Sudan had suffered from the negative role of some members of the international community in issues relating to aggressions against its national territory, and hoped the international community would change its attitude and make a real move towards achieving peace and security.
Viet Nam welcomed the efforts of the Advisory Committee and stressed the importance of the Special Procedures, with which it wished to strengthen its cooperation and dialogue. Mandate holders had been able to visit Viet Nam in order to assess the good results which had been achieved in the country and make recommendations. Viet Nam wished for that procedure to continue and be boosted in the future.
Bolivia actively promoted a culture of peace and strongly supported the right to peace: it urged all States to incorporate the right to peace into their judicial systems. Bolivia supported the establishment of an intergovernmental working group that would help to promote and preserve peace throughout the world. Bolivia also appealed to have the rights of the two hundred million people who worked in food production around the world recognized.
Luxembourg said that 25,000 persons died of hunger and malnutrition daily and that a billion people did not eat properly, and 80 per cent of the persons suffering from hunger and 75 per cent of the persons who suffered from poverty lived in rural areas. Women farmers were discriminated against. They constituted 70 per cent of the hungry and suffered from violation of their rights. The Council should protect the rights of peasant farmers, taking into account the recent recommendations of the Advisory Committee.
Venezuela said it had exhausted all efforts to eliminate threats of wars and those currently being fought. The daily deaths of innocents in the context of foreign intervention should stop. Only under solidarity and international cooperation, self determination and respect for integrity and sovereignty would it be possible to move forward in the promotion of the rights of peoples to peace and development.
Council of Europe said that its Committee on Bioethics constituted a unique human rights mechanism and was entrusted with systematic examination and interpretation of the Council of Europe’s Convention on human rights and bio medics. The Committee was expected to produce a report and provide a basis for decision-making guides regarding medical treatments in end-of-life situations.
Organization of Islamic Cooperation endorsed the draft declaration on the human right to peace and echoed the Charter of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization that war was born in the minds of men and in the minds of men guarantees of peace should be built. The culture of peace involved a wide range of aspects encompassing all aspects required for a dignified life. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation had adopted a ten-year programme of action committed to ensure that Islam was a religion of moderation and tolerance.
International Committee of Jurists, speaking in a joint statement, noted that 90 States had extended standing invitations to all thematic procedures and called on all States to do likewise, accept requests for country visits, and extend reasonable cooperation and assistance. It noted with alarm that some country visits had not always been characterized by the level of respectful engagement expected. Every country should be open to scrutiny.
International association of Peace Messenger Cities, speaking in a joint statement, requested that the Council approve the third draft of the draft declaration on the right to peace. It trusted that the Council would establish by consensus a working group to continue the process of codification of the right to peace. New amendments to the declaration should be considered, including that it cover elements of the Santiago declaration, which had not been taken into account by the Advisory Committee.
Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII said that every individual should have the right to conscientious objection to military service as part of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It appreciated, among others, Article 5 of the draft declaration on the right to peace prepared by the Advisory Committee, but supported the amendment proposed by the non-governmental organizations network to change the title of the article to ‘right to civil disobedience and conscientious objection to military service’.
Foodfirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) said that there was an urgent need to step up efforts to protect the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. An estimated 70 million hectares of agricultural land had been transferred from peasant farmers to corporations in recent years, which constituted a violation of peasants’ rights. Peasants and other persons working in rural areas had been rendered extremely vulnerable to hunger because of a violation of their human rights.
International Association of Democratic Lawyers, speaking in a joint statement, said that there had been a significant improvement in the definition of the content and scope of the right to peace. It urged member States to adopt the Advisory Committee’s draft declaration on the right to peace and to take the responsibility to monitor the implementation and enforcement of that fundamental right.
Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru said that there had been many reports, thematic studies and resolutions on indigenous peoples which had not been applied because of Governments’ lack of political will. It was important to provide responses to complaints about the violation of human rights and not just to compile reports. It also reminded the Council that, before education, human beings needed food, clothing and decent housing.
Liberation said that long-drawn-out conflicts over preservation of ethnic identities and rights over land and resources in north east India continued to challenge policy makers. In the name of development indigenous populations faced the threat of being displaced and Governments had failed to check migratory influxes that compounded the problem, increasing the number of poor. Liberation called on the Council to urge India to conduct a dialogue with indigenous people and to protect their rights.
Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said that the minority indigenous peoples of north east India were constantly faced with the threat of extinction. Despite numerous international instruments adopted by the United Nations the people in Northeast India still struggled for self-determination; customs and traditions had been ignored and left out of the Indian Constitution hierarchy. The Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy called on the Council to urge India to grant recognition to traditional institutions.
International Buddhist Relief Organization noted that the draft declaration on the right to peace had failed to address the notion of caste-based discrimination that continued to threaten peace in diverse and multi-ethnic societies like India. The Indian Government should take step to address discrimination and the situation of Dalits. The United Nations human rights machinery should document the violations and ensure effective and full redress.
Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme said that the draft declaration reminded every organ of society and individuals that the right to peace was universal and indivisible. Countries in conflict, post-conflict or making transitional steps to democracy should seriously consider the draft declaration, rather than make empty verbal promises.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies was particularly concerned by the situation in the Gulf region where human rights defenders were increasingly targeted in an attempt to hamper their work. It hoped that the Council would continue to act on the issue of reprisals with the required determination and to take a firm stand to ensure that States did not hamper the work of human rights defenders.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence conveyed a call for help for the Bahraini people, young and old, men and women, who suffered from oppression and persecution. The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence detailed several cases, and urged the Council to extend a helping hand.
Worldwide Organization for Women expressed concern over the impact that conflicts around the world had on women, who were used as weapons of war and often became targets of violence. It said that women must be included in the discussion of the right to peace and it supported the creation of an open-ended working group on the right of peoples to peace, which included women. The Worldwide Organization for Women advocated the admission of all stakeholders, including women, in peace-promoting measures.
Commission africaine des promoteurs de la santé des droits de l’homme strongly supported the adoption of a new declaration on the human right to peace at the United Nations, which would strengthen dialogue between cultures and the peaceful coexistence of civilizations and religions. It also asked the Council to establish an open-ended working group which would continue the codification of the human right to peace.
Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik commended the work of the Advisory Committee in presenting a draft declaration on the right to peace. It stressed the importance of eradicating the use of force, which would include nuclear disarmament, and it pointed out that the nuclear power possessed by Israel and suspected nuclear capacity of Iran were causes for concern. Sustainable development, human rights and freedom could only be achieved through peaceful means.
Indian Council of South America complained that non-governmental organization representatives were missing their interventions given the breaks in the schedule of the Council. The Council applied outdated rules of procedure concerning the participation of all peoples, including indigenous peoples who were vested with the right to self determination, and thus the Council gave an advantage to States. Indigenous peoples were not civil society and were denied collective rights in accordance with the right to self determination.
International Committee for the Indians of the Americas said that there was no parity between indigenous people and the United Nations and that geographic representation was given priority under thematic concerns. The question of self determination had been relegated to be considered as a domestic matter, leaving offending States to determine remedies. The International Committee for the Indians of the Americas asked the Council to ensure that the full spectrums of concerns of indigenous peoples were given consideration.
North-South XXI said that the right to peace was a right that already existed. Nonetheless, another declaration of the right to peace would help move towards the implementation and promotion of the right to peace in a world where States, including Members of the Council, were still often too ready to use aggression against their fellow human beings.
Comité International Pour le Respect et l’Application de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme said that for more than 20 years the right to peace had been flouted in the Great Lakes Region. It asked the Human Rights Council to take all the appropriate measures, as in Libya, Syria and the Ivory Coast, to put an end to the grave human rights violations and criminal projects aimed at balkanizing the Democratic Republic of Congo.
General Debate on the Universal Periodic Review
Denmark, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union viewed the Universal Periodic Review mechanism as a unique contribution to human rights worldwide and as an important instrument in the universal effort to advance human rights. The European Union remained committed to further developing the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and encouraged all States to do the same. The European Union reiterated its support to the practice of providing interim reports between reviews which contributed significantly to implementation at the national level.
Russian Federation welcomed the Universal Periodic Review and found puzzling the persistent attempts of certain States to replace the Universal Periodic Review with country specific resolutions. The Universal Periodic Review should not be turned into a tribunal for putting forth short-term interests. The Russian Federation thanked the Secretariat for its support but expressed concern over the selective and patchy coverage of meeting highlights on the Council’s website, which distorted information that could then be circulated among the press. Therefore, the Russian Federation stressed the need to rethink the approach to preparing and publishing meeting highlights on the relevant website.
Norway said that the human rights situation in Norway had been reviewed by the Council in 2009 and that Norway had undertaken a commitment to provide a mid-term report before the next report due in 2014. Norway had found this useful and encouraged other States to conduct a similar exercise and share their findings with the Council. The follow-up phase should be about holding States accountable for the recommendations which they had accepted, although Norway admitted that many recommendations were vague and therefore difficult to establish. The second cycle should include precise, practical and implementable recommendations.
China considered the Universal Periodic Review as an important platform for constructive dialogue and cooperation. China hoped the mechanism would continue to adhere to the principles of objectivity, transparency, non-selectivity and non- politicization. China was concerned that meeting highlights of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group were inappropriate and could easily mislead the media. China hoped the Secretariat would put an end to the practice as soon as possible.
United States said that to achieve the Universal Periodic Review goal for real improvement to be made through dialogue, this could only be met when all participants were able to speak openly, without fear or persecution, retribution or physical harm. Although non-governmental organizations and civil society did not officially participate during the formal Universal Periodic Review, they were an invaluable voice throughout the process. The United States urged all members and observers of the Council to take every possible measure to protect and encourage their active engagement in the process, including through their presence at the sessions.
Indonesia said that the Universal Periodic Review should ensure the participation of all States under review in the process. On its part Indonesia had participated in regional briefings in Bangkok and Yangon where best practices were shared. It fully supported the continued operations of the Voluntary Fund for participation in the Universal Periodic Review. The recent financial austerity should not hamper the sustainability of this best practice. The mechanism should take into account the growing number of recommendations for the States under review. Indonesia pointed out the irregularity of publishing meeting highlights in the media information section of the Review website, an issue which should be more thoroughly considered.
Malaysia acknowledged the success of the Universal Periodic Review but expressed concern over the fact that some of the actions taken were not consistent with the established rule of transparency. It expressed concern that the publications prepared by the Secretariat on the meeting highlights without consulting the States concerned might lead to the distortion of facts in the mass media. Malaysia said that this should be corrected and requested that the practice of publishing meeting highlights on the website be discontinued. It reiterated its commitment to continue to engage in the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.
Austria said it actively participated in the Universal Periodic Review and remained fully committed to participating in the second cycle. It recognized that, while there were significant differences in the specific situations, there was room for improvement in all countries, including Austria. In the second cycle the implementation of recommendations made during the first cycle should receive attention and be tracked. This would provide a useful tool to assess real progress.
Cuba welcomed the Universal Periodic Review as an effective and useful mechanism and expressed the hope that the second cycle could benefit from the constructive dialogue of the first cycle. The first cycle had been a success despite the fact that in the treatment of human rights the Council was not able to completely eliminate selectivity. Cuba expressed concern over the publication of meeting highlights, which were a subjective evaluation of the main points on participating States. The propagation of those in the press could provide a distorted view of the situation.
India said it had listened to all contributions and interventions during its recent second Universal Periodic Review, which would be given due consideration. One disturbing element noted was the publication of a media briefing note on the review, along with other countries. These so-called meeting highlights did not respect the intergovernmental nature of the process and were oversimplified. India reiterated its request for the deletion of the media highlights and that the practice cease. Furthermore, recommendations made had to be practical, implementable, and keep country specificities in mind.
Bangladesh was convinced that the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was a unique example of universality, impartiality and non-selectivity. Bangladesh’s engagement with the process had encouraged it to strengthen its continuing efforts in the realization of human rights. There should be vigilance and prevention of unnecessary proliferation of selective naming and shaming of countries, which it believed was a barrier to addressing the real challenges in the realization of all human rights. Bangladesh emphasized that it was the responsibility of all actors to follow resolution 60/251 and the text that specified that the Universal Periodic Review should ensure universal coverage and equal treatment of all States.
Morocco welcomed the positive outcome of the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review which made it possible to implement the new modalities. Despite the large number of speakers during Morocco’s review, 91, the debate had been concrete and productive. Morocco supported the decision of the High Commissioner to review the terms of reference of the Voluntary Fund to facilitate the participation of developing countries, and provide greater assistance for least developed countries and island States.
Turkey welcomed the success of the Universal Periodic Review and supported the voluntary follow up to the implementation of recommendations. Turkey referred to its mid-term report. More than half of the recommendations accepted in May 2010 had been implemented, including on the ratification of international instruments and the establishment of the national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles. Additional work had addressed the prevention of violence against women, domestic violence and reforms to the judiciary.
Sri Lanka expressed concern about deviations from procedures by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Sri Lanka did not understand changes in the rules implemented by the Secretariat such as the change in the timelines for submission of the national report, in contravention to resolution 5/1-Annex ID1(17). The preparation and publication of meeting highlights on country reviews by the Secretariat were subjective, arbitrary and contrary to the intergovernmental process.
Algeria said the Universal Periodic Review should not be burdensome and should be conducted in a transparent and non-politicised manner. Algeria was reviewd during the new cycle and welcomed the new rules concerning the list of speakers and, despite time constraints, it was important to emphasize the achievements of the State and the acceptance of recommendations. An acceptable number of recommendations would facilitate the capacity of States to implement them.
Sudan said it took its obligations under the Universal Periodic Review seriously and had started the implementation of different aspects of its recommendations. For that purpose Sudan had developed a strategy which included a constitutional and legislative framework and was based on law reform, administrative justice and international obligations. To that end a Law Reform Committee had been established. Sudan had prepared a proposal for capacity building projects, the aim of which was to improve the administration of justice in certain areas in the country targeting lawyers, police officers and civil society activists. A project document would be signed soon.
Republic of Korea welcomed the Universal Periodic Review and said that now was the time to strengthen the mechanism. The Republic of Korea welcomed the commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights demonstrated by most of the States that had participated in the Review. The Republic of Korea was pleased with the successful launch of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review and it expressed the hope that concrete actions and tangible measures would be taken to ensure the implementation of the recommendations made during the first cycle. It concluded by reiterating its strong commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process.
Azerbaijan said that it had submitted its interim report on the implementation of the recommendations that had been made as part of the Universal Periodic Review. It had also provided an update on the implementation process of the recommendations and on the efforts that were being made by State agencies. Discussion had focused on the participation of non-governmental organizations in the process. Azerbaijan had noted the importance of taking into account the recommendations included in the conclusions of the Universal Periodic Review.
Iran said that it had clearly demonstrated its willingness and commitment to engage constructively with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. Iran emphasized the significance of safeguarding the constructive nature of the Review and avoiding a confrontational approach, double standards and politicization. Since the Review was a United Nations Member State-driven and action-oriented process, the meeting highlights prepared by the Secretariat did not comply with its intergovernmental nature. The realization and full implementation of recommendations of the Review by Governments required technical assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Slovenia was pleased that the Universal Periodic Review was developing well and that States under review continued to engage in this process in a serious and constructive manner. The universal character of the Review was one of its main advantages and it sincerely hoped that it would be preserved throughout the second cycle and that all countries would continue to engage with their peers within this framework. Slovenia could not accept that countries disengaged when they disagreed with the opinions of others.
United Kingdom remained convinced of the value of the Universal Periodic Review’s truly universal nature and constructive spirit. It was important to uphold these fundamental principles as they embarked upon the second cycle to consolidate the Review as an effective mechanism for improving human rights worldwide. The United Kingdom continued to see the value of clear, focused recommendations, limited to a maximum of two per country to allow for a more manageable process and enhanced prospects for acceptance and implementation. It had benefitted greatly from consultation and engagement with civil society, national human rights institutions and other stakeholders in preparation of its national report, and this engagement should be upheld.
Brazil said that the participation of all United Nations Member States provided an excellent basis for the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, which started very positively, with constructive engagement. Brazil suggested that the spiraling of recommendations should be avoided and statements should be forward looking and contain implementable recommendations. Publication of additional information without prior consent diminished the work of delegations, which had required careful preparation. The intergovernmental nature of the Review should be taken into account.
ERIC TISTOUNET, Chief of Branch, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, responding to concerns expressed about the media highlights of the Universal Periodic Review, said that from the very start of the Universal Periodic Review the need was felt to make up for the inconvenience of not having traditional press releases made available by the United Nations’ Department of Public Information (DPI) after plenary meetings, in particular concerning the relationship with the media and journalists. The media highlights had improved and the Secretariat had been under the impression that they were meeting the expectations of Member States. Recently, the website had been updated and this might have given the impression that there had been a dramatic change in the way in which the highlights were prepared. He suggested discussing this issue further with interested delegations. The resources were limited and it would not be possible to produce press releases similar to DPI’s coverage of the Council’s plenary meetings. The Office would strive to improve its service, and as a last resort the highlights could be suspended.
Geneva for Human Rights said it was important to look into the actions taken by Governments to implement recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review process. Recommending States could reiterate their recommendations or request for additional measures. Only a fraction of recommendations had been followed up. Consistent follow up was the only way to make the Universal Periodic Review meaningful.
International Commission of Jurists said recommendations made in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review were selective and based on relations with the States under review; the process should be the same for all States. The process would continue to be based on information from different sources; the focus on human rights development including reflected recommendations should be kept. States should ensure sufficient coordination to cover issues and practical recommendations. All States should voluntarily adopt plans for implementation within 12 months on review and update the Council upon implementation.
Organization for Defending Victims of Violence noted that the Council had recently turned to other additional mechanisms, such as specific resolutions on the creation of additional mandates. The Organization for Defending Victims of Violence questioned the impact that these measures had on the capacity of States to implement Universal Periodic Review recommendations in the short period of time available. The focus should be on strengthening mechanisms and implementation and non-governmental organizations should fulfil their monitoring role through the preparation of reports.
Action Canada for Population and Development urged States to make recommendations on a wider range of problems facing women throughout their lifespan. Action Canada for Population and Development was counting on States to refine their recommendations in the second cycle and make them more relevant for implementation.
Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru” said that the Universal Periodic Review had been set up to resolve conflicts through dialogue, not through confrontation. Nevertheless, it saw that in certain cases issues were being politicized and States were going beyond the defence of human rights. Sanctions against countries which did not submit to the interests of Western powers only undermined the credibility of the process.
For use of the information media; not an official record