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Human Rights Council adopts outcomes of Universal Periodic Review of Estonia, Belgium and Paraguay

AFTERNOON

30 September 2021

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Estonia, Belgium and Paraguay.
  
Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Estonia were Libya, Morocco, Nepal, Russian Federation, Tunisia, Venezuela, Belarus, China, Cuba, Djibouti, the Gambia and India. 

The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Estonia: European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation and World Jewish Congress.

Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Belgium were Togo, Tunisia, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belarus, Botswana, Burkina Faso, China, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire and Cuba. 

The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Belgium: International Humanist and Ethical Union, Alliance Defending Freedom, Defence for Children International, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Amnesty International, United Nations Watch, International Council Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights, Conscience and Peace Tax International, Institute for NGO Research, Meezaan Center for Human Rights, and International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Paraguay were Botswana, Brazil, Cuba, India, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Russian Federation, Tunisia and UN Women.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Paraguay: Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, World Jewish Congress, Action Canada for Population and Development, International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development, Amnesty International, United Nations Watch, CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and Conselho Indigenista Missionário.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here.  All meeting summaries can be found here.  Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-eighth regular session can be found here.

The Council will resume its work at 9 a.m. on Friday, 1 October, to start its consideration of the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Denmark, Somalia, Palau and Solomon Islands.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Estonia

Presentation by Estonia

KATRIN SAARSLAU-LAYACHI, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, reiterated the commitment of Estonia to the principles of rules-based international order, and respect and promotion of international law, adding that Estonia was ready to accept some parts of the noted recommendations.  The Estonian Government would continue its efforts to fulfil the human rights commitments it had undertaken.  Estonia was determined to work hard in cooperation with other States to implement common pledges of the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Discussion

Speakers positively noted the establishment of the national institution for the promotion and protection of human rights in Estonia.  Some speakers welcomed that Estonia had accepted recommendations to take measures against the abusive use of restraints in prisons and mental health facilities, as well as on the setting up of an independent mechanism for investigating allegations of torture and ill-treatment.  Some speakers drew attention to the fact that there had been no visits to Estonia by Human Rights Council Special Procedures for more than 13 years.  One speaker regretted Estonia’s support for Nazi accomplices.  Calls were made on the Estonian authorities to implement without delay the recommendations of international human rights mechanisms and the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.

The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 274 recommendations received, 192 enjoyed the support of Estonia, while 82 had been noted. 

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Belgium

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Belgium worked for the promotion and protection of human rights, which were universal, indivisible and interdependent.  Belgium was a federal State and the protection of human rights was therefore ensured by several levels of government.  It was in this context that Belgium continued to strengthen the legislative, legal and policy framework that allowed human rights to be protected in the country. 

Discussion

Speakers welcomed that Belgium had ratified the Istanbul Convention and had become a vital contributor to eradicating violence against women.  Some speakers noted the commitment of Belgium to reform the Federal Human Rights Institute and to adopt and implement a National Action Plan against Racism.  Some speakers shared their deep concern about the drastic increase in hate incidents and serious physical attacks against ethnic minorities.  They reiterated their recommendation for Belgium to ratify the Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.  One speaker said that ethnic profiling stemming from the preventive counter-terrorism measures were conducive to racism.

The Vice-President of the Council informed that out of 308 recommendations received, 251 enjoyed the support of Belgium, while 53 had been noted. 

Concluding Remarks

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Belgium was working on concrete measures to further strengthen the human rights framework in the country and their implementation had already started.  Human rights were part of Belgium's identity.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Paraguay

Presentation by Paraguay

MARCELO SCAPPINI RICCIARDI, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, understood that the recommendations resulting from the Universal Periodic Review contributed substantially to the permanent and evolving process of improving the standards of the promotion and protection of human rights in each country.  Paraguay firmly believed that all persons, without discrimination, must be protected in their dignity and rights.

Discussion

Speakers welcomed that Paraguay had accepted most of the recommendations made during the third cycle; they welcomed the promulgation of the Climate Change Act and encouraged the effective implementation of environmental laws.  Some speakers took encouraging note of various plans and policies adopted by Paraguay to fight poverty, including the National Poverty Reduction Plan.  Other speakers urged Paraguay to continue to make progress in the fight against poverty and in guaranteeing other essential rights.  Concerns were expressed about the sustained and systematic human rights violations in Paraguay, especially the structural discrimination against indigenous peoples, peasants, domestic workers and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, which had been exacerbated during the pandemic.

The Vice- President of the Council informed that out of 208 recommendations received, 202 enjoyed the support of Paraguay, while 6 had been noted. 

Concluding Remarks

MARCELO SCAPPINI RICCIARDI, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, said Paraguay was aware that the closing of this cycle was merely formal.  Paraguay recognised that the work was not over, because it was clear that the improvement of standards for the promotion and protection of human rights was a permanent process.

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2021/09/conseil-des-droits-de-lhomme-examen-periodique-de-lestonie-de-la

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For use of the information media; not an official record