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Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review Working Group to hold twenty-sixth session from 31 October to 11 November

Human Rights Council Universal 
Periodic Review Working Group 

26 October 2016

BACKGROUND RELEASE

The twenty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will be held in Geneva from 31 October to 11 November, during which the final group of States will have their human rights records examined to complete the UPR second cycle.

The group of States to be reviewed by the Universal Periodic Review Working Group during this session are (in order of scheduled review): Togo, Syrian Arab Republic, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Iceland, Zimbabwe, Lithuania, Uganda, Timor-Leste, Haiti and South Sudan.  The meeting will take place in Room 20 of the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Representatives of the 11 countries are scheduled to come before the Working Group, which comprises the entire membership of the 47-member Human Rights Council, to present efforts they have made in fulfilling their human rights obligations and commitments, in particular since their last UPR review, assessing both positive developments and identifying challenges. The timetable of State reviews and adoption and distribution of reports can be found below, as well as at the following link:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx

The twenty-sixth session of the UPR Working Group is the final session to be held during its second cycle.  With the conclusion of this session and review of the remaining 11 States, all 193 United Nations Member States will have been reviewed for a second time.  This will also mark the second time the Universal Periodic Review has achieved 100 per cent participation.
 
“The UPR has been regarded as one of the most innovative achievements of the Council, with real potential for transformative action,” stated Human Rights Council President Choi Kyonglim of the Republic of Korea, ahead of the session.  “I am encouraged to see how States have engaged actively and productively with the Universal Periodic Review.  This is clearly a testament of the importance they attach to this essential process and to its goal of improving the human rights situation on the ground for the benefit of rights holders everywhere,” he added.

As an integral part of the second and subsequent cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, States under Review are expected to spell out the steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed to them during their previous review, in particular those which enjoyed the support of the State, as well as present developments that occurred since the previous review and share challenges in their follow-up action.  The reports serving as the basis for these reviews can be found at the following link: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/Documentation.aspx

During the session, an interactive dialogue between the country under review and the Council takes place.  Each country review lasts three and a half hours, and an additional half hour will be devoted to the adoption of the Working Group's recommendations for each country.  The review for each State is facilitated by groups of three Council members from different regional groups, or troikas, who act as rapporteurs.  The troikas for States to be reviewed throughout the three Universal Periodic Review working group sessions in 2016 were selected through a drawing of lots on Tuesday, 12 January during an organizational meeting of the Council.  The troikas for the twenty-sixth session can be found at the following link: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx
 
The final outcome of the twenty-sixth session will be adopted by the plenary of the Human Rights Council at its thirty-fourth regular session taking place in February-March 2017.

On 9 November, on the side-lines of the UPR Working Groups session, the Human Rights Council will hold a half-day panel discussion, from 10:00 to 13:00, focussing on processes and systems put in place at the national level to follow up to human rights recommendations, including those taken at the UPR.  This discussion, authorized by Human Rights Council resolution 30/25, will provide an opportunity for States to share experiences and good practices in the establishment and strengthening of national human rights follow-up systems, including the role of international cooperation in this regard.  The meeting will also take place in Room 20.
 
About the Universal Periodic Review

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."

Subsequently, the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was established through the adoption by the Council of its “institution-building package” - HRC resolution 5/1 - on 18 June 2007, one year after its first meeting.  Among the elements of this package was the new Universal Periodic Review mechanism, which aims to ensure that all United Nations Member States, starting with the members of the Council, have their records examined in order to improve human rights conditions worldwide.  Furthermore, the Council decided that these reviews would be conducted on one working group composed of the 47 members of the Council.

The UPR Working Group consequently held its inaugural session in April 2008 for the first group of States, the order for which was decided through the drawing of lots. With the holding of this first session the first cycle took off through which all 193 United Nations Member States have had their human rights records reviewed over a four-year period (April 2008 to October 2011); this included South Sudan which became a Member State during the course of the first cycle.  Thus far, all States scheduled to participate in their second cycle UPR have done so.  The second cycle is scheduled to conclude in November 2016

Per Human Rights Council resolution 16/21 adopted on 25 March 2011 and decision 17/119 pertaining to the review of the Council, the second and subsequent cycles of the UPR should focus on, inter alia, the implementation of the accepted recommendations and the developments of the human rights situation in the State under review.  This resolution and decision also established that the periodicity of the review for the second and subsequent cycles will be four and a half years, instead of four, and thus 42 States would be reviewed per year during three sessions of the UPR Working Group.  Moreover, the order of reviews established for the first cycle was to be maintained.  The calendar of State reviews for the second cycle can be found at the following link: http://www2.ohchr.org/SPdocs/UPR/UPR-FullCycleCalendar_2nd.doc
 
UPR Reporting and Objectives

In accordance with the Council’s “institution-building package”, and as reinforced by the outcome of the Council’s review adopted in March 2011, 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.

Per the adopted institution-building package, the objectives of the Universal Periodic Review are: the improvement of the human rights situation on the ground; fulfilment 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.


Timetable for the Universal Periodic Review Working Group Twenty-Sixth Session:  (Contains links to documentation page for each State)

Monday, 31 October

09h00 – 12h30 Review of Togo
14h30 – 18h00 Review of Syrian Arab Republic

Tuesday, 1 November

09h00 – 12h30 Review of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
14h30 – 18h00 Review of Iceland

Wednesday, 2 November

09h00 – 12h30 Review of Zimbabwe
14h30 – 18h00 Review of Lithuania

Thursday, 3 November

09h00 – 12h30 Review of Uganda
14h30 – 18h00 Review of Timor-Leste

Friday, 4 November

09h00 – 12h30 Review of the Republic of Moldova
15h00 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Togo, Syrian Arab Republic, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Iceland, Zimbabwe and Lithuania

Monday, 7 November

09h00 – 12h30 Review of Haiti
14h30 – 18h00 Review of South Sudan

Tuesday, 8 November

16h30 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Uganda, Timor-Leste and the Republic of Moldova
 
Wednesday, 9 November

10h00-13h00  *Half-day panel discussion of the Human Rights Council on national human rights follow-up systems and processes (This is a HRC plenary inter-sessional meeting) 

17h00 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Haiti and South Sudan

Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the Universal Periodic Review webpage on the OHCHR website: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org, Cédric Sapey at +41 (0) 22 917 9751 /csapey@ohchr.org


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