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Second session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will be held in Geneva from 5 to 19 May

WORKING GROUP OF HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL TO REVIEW SECOND GROUP OF STATES UNDER ITS UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW MECHANISM

16 Countries to be Reviewed During Second Session of UPR Working Group from 5 to 19 May


The second session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will be held in Geneva from 5 to 19 May during which 16 States will have their human rights records examined under this new mechanism. The second group of States to be reviewed under the UPR are: Gabon, Ghana, Peru, Guatemala, Benin, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Pakistan, Zambia, Japan, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, France, Tonga, Romania and Mali. The meeting with take place in Room XVIII at the Palais des Nations.

Representatives of the 16 countries are scheduled to come before the UPR Working Group, which comprises the entire membership of the 47-member Human Rights Council, and observer States 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, interactive dialogues between the countries under review, the UPR Working Group and observer States will take place. 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.

At the conclusion of the review the Working Group will adopt the report for each country before concluding the session. The Working Group report will consist of a summary of the proceedings of the review process, conclusions and/or recommendations, and the voluntary commitments of the State concerned.

The UPR mechanism was set up in response to General Assembly resolution 60/251 on 15 March 2006, which created the Human Rights Council, and mandated the new body to conduct a review to ensure that all 192 United Nations Member States, starting with the members of the Council, will have their records examined in order to improve human rights conditions worldwide. The UPR mechanism was subsequently established through the adoption by the Council of its institution-building package, on 18 June 2007, one year after its first meeting.

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.

The first UPR Working Group session was held from 7 to 18 April during which the human rights fulfilment of the following States was reviewed: Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Finland, the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, the Philippines, Algeria, Poland, the Netherlands, South Africa, the Czech Republic and Argentina.

The final outcome of the second session, as well as that of the first UPR session, will be adopted by the plenary of the Council at its 8th regular session scheduled to take place from 3 to 18 June 2008.

Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, including the reports for each country review can be located at the UPR webpage on the OHCHR website: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx
Background on the UPR 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 session, on 18 June 2007, the Council responded to this request and adopted, in its resolution 5/1 , modalities regarding the UPR 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.

UPR Objectives

Per the adopted institution-building package, the objectives of the UPR 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 UPR, 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 UPR 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 an organizational meeting on 28 February 2008, the Council selected the first group of troikas for the first and second sessions. (See list of troikas for second session ).

The final outcome of the UPR 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 UPR will be adopted by the plenary of the Council at its 8th regular session taking place from 3 to 18 June 2008. 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 UPR mechanism, the Council will address, as appropriate, cases of persistent non-cooperation with the mechanism.


Provisional Timetable for the UPR Working Group First Session:

Monday, 5 May

10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Review of Gabon
3 – 6 p.m. Review of Ghana

Tuesday, 6 May

10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Review of Peru
3 – 6 p.m. Review of Guatemala

Wednesday, 7 May

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of Benin
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Gabon
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of the Republic of Korea
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Ghana

Thursday, 8 May

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of Switzerland
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Peru
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Pakistan
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Guatemala

Friday, 9 May

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of Zambia
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Benin
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of the Japan
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on the Republic of Korea

Tuesday, 13 May

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of Ukraine
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Switzerland
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Sri Lanka
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Pakistan

Wednesday, 14 May

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of France
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Zambia
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Tonga
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Japan

Thursday, 15 May

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Review of Romania
12 – 12.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on Ukraine
2.30 – 5.30 p.m. Review of Mali
5.30 – 6 p.m. Adoption of report on Sri Lanka

Monday, 19 May

3 – 3.30 p.m. Adoption of the report on France
3.30 – 4 p.m. Adoption of the report on Tonga
4 – 4.30 p.m. Adoption of report on Romania
4.30 – 5 p.m. Adoption of report on Mali