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Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review Working Group concludes twentieth session in Geneva having reviewed 14 States

(GENEVA) 7 November 2014 -- Migrants’ rights, combatting domestic violence, child protection measures and preventing torture and ill treatment, these are just some of the issues addressed over the past two weeks in Geneva during the latest session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group.

Throughout the twentieth session of the UPR Working Group, concluded today, the human rights records of another group of 14 States were reviewed in half-day meetings where crucial issues were spotlighted and numerous recommendations made on how to improve the human rights situations in those countries. The States reviewed this session were: Italy, El Salvador, The Gambia, Bolivia, Fiji, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Angola, Iran, Madagascar, Iraq, Slovenia, Egypt and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

With the conclusion of the session today, the UPR has now reviewed 112 States during its second cycle and is well on its way to achieving 100 per cent participation for this stage, as was the case for the first UPR cycle during which all 193 UN member States were examined.

Through this successful 100 per cent participation during the first UPR cycle States have expressed their commitment to this process aiming to do more to safeguard rights leading to significant consequences for people around the globe.

During the second UPR cycle, States are expected to spell out the steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed during their first reviews and underline activities to advance human rights. This decisive step not only serves as a measurement of success of the UPR process, but also provides a vital stage for a global audience to hear views which often get neglected or drowned out by other competing events around the globe.

Now into its seventh year, the UPR has gained considerable momentum since it began in April 2008. Born out of the understanding that all States have human rights difficulties and thus room for improving their human rights records, this unique process is designed to encourage States to do more to improve the human rights situations in their countries.

Through the UPR process all United Nations member States’ human rights records are reviewed once every four years leading to an increased awareness of human rights situations worldwide. The ultimate goal of the UPR is the improvement of the human rights situations in every country with significant consequences for people around the globe.

The UPR also affords an opportunity for States under review to engage in dialogue with fellow states and take on recommendations for improvement. During this 20th session, a total of 2,579 recommendations were made, or some 184 per State. As noted in Council resolution 5/1 setting the rules for these reviews, States must eventually express their final position on recommendations they have received at a subsequent session of the UPR's parent body - the Human Rights Council. For this session, the 14 States have until the Council's March session next year to express their views. The State has the primary responsibility to implement the recommendations contained in the final outcome.

As with previous sessions, the recommendations posed during this latest UPR gathering covered a wide range of human rights themes touching on crucial issues affecting the lives of many. Similarly, the achievements made by States since their first UPR have been far reaching and demonstrate their commitments to address human rights issues constructively, particularly for the benefit of those most vulnerable in their societies.

A few examples of where States have made progress in realising their UPR recommendations are: improved efforts to protect the rights of migrants; achievement of Millennium Development Goals; enhanced child protection measures; campaigns against discrimination and intolerance; programmes to combat illiteracy; the creation of government bodies to fight corruption; reducing the gender pay gap; and steps to address conditions of detention and to prevent torture.

Moreover, a number of the States reviewed during the session highlighted steps taken to combat violence against women, domestic violence and human trafficking, and reported on various measures undertaken to enhance social inclusion for the most vulnerable sectors of their societies, including ethnic and religious minorities and disabled persons, among others.

Additionally, of the 14 States reviewed during this session, ten had extended a standing invitation to the UN’s independent human rights experts, known as the Special Procedures, since their first UPR four years ago. Another six had set up, or began the process of setting up, a national human rights institution. Moreover, a number of the States reviewed advanced plans to combat violence against women and human trafficking, introduced new programmes to enhance social inclusion and stepped up efforts to increase school enrolment.

Significantly, the UPR process provides an opportunity to continue or start a dialogue with civil society about domestic human rights concerns. The majority of States undergoing this process have reported on measures they have taken to engage with civil society in preparation for their reviews. While civil society actors do not participate in the UPR sessions, their views have a strong influence on the proceedings

The session also attracted a large number of participants and high-level dignitaries from each State under review all of which were represented by a minister. In total, 1,071 statements were delivered throughout the two-week session, or an average of 76 per State, with 143 of the 193 UN members States participating in these reviews.

The next session of the UPR Working Group will be held from 19 to 30 January 2015.


Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, including the reports for each country review can be located at the Universal Periodic Review webpage on the OHCHR website: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org

For use of the information media; not an official record