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A milestone for the Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Human Rights Council has examined human rights situations in 64 countries. With the conclusion of its current session in mid-February, the new mechanism has reviewed one-third of all the 192 United Nations member states since April 2008.

The Universal Periodic Review Working Group of the Human Rights Council concludes its 4th session in February - OHCHR PHOTO“This also brings us a step closer to achieving the overall goal of the Universal Periodic Review – that is, to improve the human rights situation in every country and address human rights violations wherever they occur,” Human Rights Council President Martin Uhomoibhi told the press on 13 February.

When the General Assembly agreed to establish the Human Rights Council in 2006, it decided that the Council shall review the human rights records of all UN member states. The UPR became operational and held its first session in April 2008.

“The UPR is revolutionary in many ways”, said the Council President, adding that it is the first time an international procedure seeks to hold all UN member states “accountable for human rights.”

“While there is always room for improvement, the UPR has made significant progress well beyond the conference rooms. Several states who have undergone their review have already begun implementing recommendations…and adopted new polices, programmes and measures aimed at improving the human rights in their countries for the benefit of their citizens,” he said.

The Council President also underlined the “valuable role” played by non-governmental organizations throughout the UPR process. “They are the behind the scenes actors who help generate constructive reviews and fuel the discussions we have been hearing,” he said. 

The UPR aims to review all UN member states within a period of four years in the first cycle. The UPR Working Group holds 4 sessions per year, and issues reports with recommendations and voluntary commitments made by the 16 countries reviewed in each session.

The 16 countries reviewed by the 4th session of the UPR Working Group were Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Canada, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Germany, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and the Russian Federation.

February 2009