Human Rights Council
BACKGROUND RELEASE 27 November 2008
Sixteen Countries to be Reviewed During Session
The third session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group will be held in Geneva from 1 to 15 December during which 16 States will have their human rights records examined under this new mechanism.
The third group of States to be reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review are: Botswana, Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein, Serbia, Turkmenistan, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Colombia, Uzbekistan and Tuvalu. The meeting with take place in Room XIX at the Palais des Nations.
Representatives of the 16 countries are expected to come before the Universal Periodic Review Working Group, which comprises the entire membership of the 47-member Human Rights Council, to present efforts they have made in fulfilling their human rights obligations and commitments, assessing both positive developments and identifying challenges.
During the two-week session, an interactive dialogue between the country under review and the Council will take place in the Working Group. Each country review will last three hours and an additional half hour will be devoted to the adoption of the Working Group’s report for each country. The review for each State will be facilitated by groups of three Council members, or troikas, who will act as rapporteurs. The troikas were selected through a drawing of lots and represent Council members from different regional groups.
The Universal Periodic Review mechanism was established through the adoption by the Council of its institution-building package, on 18 June 2007, one year after its first meeting. Among the elements of this package is the new Universal Periodic Review mechanism, which aims to ensure that all 192 Member States of the United Nations, starting with the members of the Council, will have their records examined in order to improve human rights conditions worldwide.
In accordance with its institution-building package, the three documents on which State reviews should be based are information prepared by the State concerned, which could be presented either orally or in writing; information contained in the reports of treaty bodies and Special Procedures, to be compiled in a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and information provided by other relevant stakeholders to the UPR including non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, academic institutions and research institutes, regional organizations, as well as civil society representatives, also to be summarized by OHCHR in a separate document.
At the conclusion of the review the Working Group will adopt the report for each country before concluding the session. The final outcome of the session will be adopted by the plenary of the Council at its next regular session in March 2009.
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
Background on the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism
General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, which created the Human Rights Council, mandated the Council to "undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfilment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States; the review shall be a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialogue, with the full involvement of the country concerned and with consideration given to its capacity-building needs; such a mechanism shall complement and not duplicate the work of treaty bodies."
At its fifth regular session, on 18 June 2007, the Council responded to this request and adopted, in its resolution 5/1, detailed modalities regarding the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. These modalities relate, in particular, to the basis of the review, principles and objectives to be followed, the periodicity and order of review of countries, process and modalities, as well as the outcome and the follow-up to the review. Furthermore, the Council decided that the review would be conducted in one working group composed of the 47 Member States of the Council. In 2008, the Working Group will hold three sessions, scheduled to take place at the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Objectives of the Universal Periodic Review
Per the adopted institution-building package, the objectives of the Universal Periodic Review are: the improvement of the human rights situation on the ground; fulfillment of the State's human rights obligations and commitments and assessment of positive developments and challenges faced by the State; the enhancement of the State's capacity and of technical assistance, in consultation with, and with the consent of, the State concerned; the sharing of best practice among States and other stakeholders; support for cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights; and, the encouragement of full cooperation and engagement with the Council, other human rights bodies and OHCHR.
Schedule and Reporting
Under the Universal Periodic Review, all United Nations Member States will be reviewed within a period of four years in the first cycle with 48 States to be reviewed every year, and all the members of the Council reviewed during their term of membership. The first States to be reviewed were chosen by regional groups through the drawing of lots to ensure full respect for equitable geographic distribution. Alphabetical order was then applied beginning with these countries, with the exception of those who volunteered to be reviewed.
The drawing of lots took place at the sixth session of the Human Rights Council on 21 September 2007 and led to the adoption of a calendar in relation to the consideration of the 192 Member States of the United Nations to be considered during the first four-year cycle of the Review mechanism, as well as on the precise order of consideration of reviewed States in 2008. Subsequently, the Council adopted, on 27 September, a set of general guidelines through which national reports should be prepared. The documents prepared by the OHCHR should also be elaborated following the structure of these guidelines.
Modalities and Outcome
The review will be carried out by the Universal Periodic Review Working Group composed of members of the Council that will meet three times per year for two weeks and will be facilitated by groups of three States members of the Council, or troikas, which will act as rapporteurs. At its ninth session, on 8 September, the Human Rights Council selected the group of troikas for the third, fourth and fifth sessions. (See list of troikas for third session).
The final outcome of the Universal Periodic Review will consist of recommendations to be implemented primarily by the State concerned and, as appropriate, by other relevant stakeholders. The outcome for the first and second sessions of the Universal Periodic Review will be adopted by the plenary of the Council at its next regular session taking place in June. The subsequent review of States should focus, inter alia, on the implementation of the preceding outcome.
In line with the institution-building package, the international community will assist in implementing the recommendations and conclusions regarding capacity-building and technical assistance, in consultation with, and with consent of, the country concerned. In considering the outcomes of the UPR, the Council will decide if and when any specific follow-up is necessary. Moreover, after exhausting all efforts to encourage a State to cooperate with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, the Council will address, as appropriate, cases of persistent non-cooperation with the mechanism.
Provisional Timetable for the UPR Working Group Third Session:
Monday, 1 December
10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Review of Botswana
3 – 6 p.m. Review of Bahamas
Tuesday, 2 December
10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Review of Burundi
3 – 6 p.m. Review of Luxembourg
Wednesday, 3 December
9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of Barbados
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Botswana
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Montenegro
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Bahamas
Thursday, 4 December
9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of the United Arab Emirates
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Burundi
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Israel
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Luxembourg
Friday, 5 December
9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of Liechtenstein
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Barbados
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of the Serbia
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Montenegro
Tuesday, 9 December
9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of Turkmenistan
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on United Arab Emirates
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Burkina Faso
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Israel
Wednesday, 10 December
9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of the Cape Verde
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Liechtenstein
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Colombia
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Serbia
Thursday, 11 December
9 – 12 p.m. Review of Uzbekistan
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Turkmenistan
2:30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Tuvalu
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Burkina Faso
Monday, 15 December
3 – 3.30 p.m. Adoption of report on Cape Verde
3.30 – 4 p.m. Adoption of report on Colombia
4 – 4.30 p.m. Adoption of report on Uzbekistan
4.30 – 5 p.m. Adoption of report on Tuvalu
For use of information media; not an official record