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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW TO REVIEW SIXTEEN MORE COUNTRIES DURING ITS FIFTH SESSION FROM 4 TO 15 MAY

Human Rights Council
BACKGROUND RELEASE

30 April 2009


The fifth session of the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review Working Group will be held in Geneva from 4 to 15 February during which the next group of 16 States will have their human rights records examined under this new mechanism.

The fifth group of States to be reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review are (in order of review): the Central African Republic, Monaco, Belize, Chad, Congo, Malta, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Chile, Viet Nam, Uruguay, Yemen, Vanuatu, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Comoros and Slovakia. The meeting will take place in Room XX – The Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations chamber - at the Palais des Nations, marking the first time the Universal Periodic Review Working Group is to meet in this new room.

Representatives of the 16 countries are expected to come before the 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. (See http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Timetable_fifth_Session.pdf)

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. To date, 64 States have had their human rights records reviewed by the Working Group, one-third of the entire United Nations membership.

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 twelfth regular session taking place in September 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 fulfillment 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.

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 2007, 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. During its ninth regular session on 8 September 2008, the Council selected the group of troikas for the third, fourth and fifth sessions.



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 fifth session of the Universal Periodic Review will be considered by the plenary of the Council at its twelfth regular session taking place in September 2009. 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 Universal Periodic Review, 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 Universal Periodic Review Working Group Fourth Session:

Monday, 4 May

10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Review of the Central African Republic
3 – 6 p.m. Review of Monaco

Tuesday, 5 May

10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Review of Belize
3 – 6 p.m. Review of Chad

Wednesday, 6 May

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of the Congo
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on the Central African Republic
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Malta
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Monaco

Thursday, 7 May

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of New Zealand
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Belize
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Afghanistan
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Chad

Friday, 8 May

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of Chile
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Congo
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of the Viet Nam
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Malta

Monday, 11 May

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of Uruguay
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on New Zealand
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Yemen
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Afghanistan

Tuesday, 12 May

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of the Vanuatu
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Chile
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Viet Nam

Wednesday, 13 May

9 – 12 p.m. Review of Comoros
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Uruguay
2:30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Slovakia
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Yemen

Friday, 15 May

3 – 3.30 p.m. Adoption of report on Vanuatu
3.30 – 4 p.m. Adoption of report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
4 – 4.30 p.m. Adoption of report on Comoros
4.30 – 5 p.m. Adoption of report on Slovakia

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For use of the information media; not an official record