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Seventh session of Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review to be held from 8 to 19 February 2010

BACKGROUND RELEASE
4 February 2010

Sixteen Countries to Have their Human Rights Records Examined

Sixteen States will have their human rights records examined during the seventh session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group to be held in Geneva from 8 to 19 February. These countries are Qatar, Nicaragua, Italy, El Salvador, Gambia, Bolivia, Fiji, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Angola, Iran, Madagascar, Iraq, Slovenia, Egypt and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

By the end of this two-week session, 112 States (out of 192 Member States of the United Nations) will have had their human rights records examined by the UPR Working Group. In December 2011, when this first four years cycle will reach its end, all United Nations’ Member States will have been reviewed under this mechanism.

Representatives of the 16 countries under review are expected to come before the Working Group, which comprises the entire membership of the 47-member Human Rights Council, to present measures they have taken and efforts they have made to fulfil their human rights obligations and commitments, assessing both positive developments and identifying challenges.

The three documents on which State reviews are based are: information prepared by the State concerned; information contained in UN reports; and information provided by other relevant stakeholders (non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, academic institutions and research institutes, civil society representatives, etc.).

All together, each country review – comprising of a presentation by the concerned State and an interactive dialogue with the Council – will last three hours. An additional half hour will be devoted to the adoption of the Working Group’s report for each country. The final outcome of the session, including recommendations made by other States, will be adopted by the plenary of the Council at its fourteenth regular session, in June 2010.

The seventh UPR Working Group session will take place in Room XX – The Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations chamber – at the Palais des Nations. The provisional timetable for the meeting is available on http://www2.ohchr.org/SPdocs/UPR/Timetable_7th_Session.doc

Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, including the reports for each country review can be located on the HRC 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; (…)."

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 (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, the UPR Working Group.

Objectives of the Universal Periodic Review

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, as well as 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 the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (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, 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 of the review mechanism. 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.

The documents on which States reviews should be based are: information prepared by the State concerned, presented either orally or in writing; information contained in UN reports (Treaty bodies and Special Procedures) and compiled by the OHCHR; information provided by other relevant stakeholders, 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.

Modalities and Outcome

The review will be carried out by the UPR Working Group, composed of all members of the Council, that will meet three times per year for two weeks and will be facilitated by groups of three member States of the Council, or troikas, which will act as rapporteurs and are selected through a drawing of lots representing the different regional groups (for the seventh UPR session, see http://www2.ohchr.org/SPdocs/UPR/List_troikas_7th_session.doc).

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 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.

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For use of the information media; not an official record