GENEVA (13 October 2011) – UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Thursday congratulated the Human Rights Council for completing a peer review of the human rights record of all 193 member states of the United Nations, and said she looked forward to concrete results in terms of human rights promotion and protection on the ground.
Thursday’s consideration of Haiti by the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) marked the end of the first cycle of the new process, under which every member state is subject to a review of its human rights record over the preceding four years.
“The UPR has proved to be an innovative, transparent, collaborative instrument for change and has made it possible – for the first time ever – for all UN member states to be reviewed on an equal basis,” said Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“It has been truly universal, with Government officials representing every single one of the 193 member states, and very active participation by local, regional and international NGOs as well. Some 80 percent of Government delegations were led by ministers who travelled to Geneva for the review, which clearly demonstrates the importance States attached to the UPR process,” she added.
Pillay said that at the national level, the UPR has in many instances provided a framework for exchange and dialogue across State structures as well as between the State and members of civil society. “I hope such exchanges will continue during the implementation of the UPR recommendations, and even beyond the UPR process,” she said. “That in itself would be an important achievement.”
The High Commissioner noted that the UPR has also been an opportunity for states to share best practices and has stimulated bilateral cooperation and exchanges.
“I am encouraged that the UPR has already begun serving as a catalyst for change,” she said, noting that it had generated implementation of recommendations on the ground, and increased cooperation with the important group of independent UN experts known as Special Procedures, as well as with the various UN Committees charged with monitoring States’ compliance with international human rights treaties.
Pillay did, however, note that the UPR had produced thousands of recommendations and warned that for such recommendations to be useful, they must be precise, constructive and time-bound.
“For the UPR to continue to be successful, it is essential that states approach it in a spirit of cooperation, with genuine commitment. They must avoid politicization and resorting to manipulative tactics aimed at turning it into a meaningless procedural exercise,” she said.
“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 High Commissioner said. “The first cycle has undoubtedly gone very well, but the real test is still to come. By the end of the second cycle, we should have a better idea of whether the promises made by States have become reality.”
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