The second cycle of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is well underway, with the follow-up review of countries’ human rights record set to kick off later this year.
Ahead of the next session of the UPR Working Group that will begin in May, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organized a series of bilateral meetings in New York with States to update them on the UPR process and spell out the objectives of the second cycle.
The meetings held 6 – 8 February allowed participants to discuss with United Nations experts the latest developments regarding the modalities of the UPR; the trends observed during the first cycle; and how best to organize the preparation of their national reports, which should focus, among other things, on implementation of the recommendations of the previous review.
The bilateral meetings were followed by a general briefing attended by Member States and representatives of civil society to share views on the UPR process and on the next steps in this State-driven process.
“The first cycle of reviews has already yielded important benefits… It has helped to shine a torchlight on parts of the world that previously escaped scrutiny by the Human Rights Council or its predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights,” remarked Charles Radcliffe, head of the Global Issues Section in OHCHR New York Office. “It has also generated many highly significant commitments on the part of States that have undergone the process – commitments that will feed into the second cycle of reviews.”
The UPR gives countries the opportunity to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights conditions in their countries and fulfil their human rights obligations. It is designed to ensure equal treatment of every country when its situation is assessed. The second and subsequent cycles of the UPR will concentrate on the implementation of accepted recommendations and human rights developments in the country.
The first cycle will formally conclude at the upcoming Human Rights Council session in March, when its members are set to adopt the outcome of reviews for the last group of States reviewed at the last UPR Working Group session held in October last year. That session saw the review of the last group of all the United Nations’ 193 Member States, making the process truly universal.
On that occasion, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay referred to the UPR as a “catalyst for change”, adding that “the true measure of the effectiveness of the UPR will be in the amount of positive change that it generates on the ground – how it improves laws, policies and practices and the enjoyment of human rights by people.”
The countries set to undergo a second review at the next session in May are Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Finland, United Kingdom, India, Brazil, Philippines, Algeria, Poland, Netherlands and South Africa.
21 February 2012