Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group concludes twenty-first session after reviewing the human rights records of 14 more States
30 January 2015
30 January 2015
The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group concluded its twenty-first session this afternoon after having reviewed the human rights records of 14 additional States focussing on a wide range of issues.
During the two-week session, which commenced on 19 January, the following 14 States were subjected to the review by the Council’s Working Group, comprised of all 47 members of the human rights body: Armenia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
“I am pleased with the successful conclusion of the 21st UPR session, in which we saw great commitment and active participation. States should now follow-up on this commitment and implement recommendations as soon as possible”, stated Ambassador Joachim Ruecker, President of the Human Rights Council.
Throughout the meeting crucial issues were spotlighted and numerous recommendations made on how to improve the human rights situations in those countries. In total 2,662 recommendations were posed to the States under review, or an average of 190 each. While a number of recommendations have already been accepted by the States reviewed this session, those States have until the Human Rights Council’s June session to give their final position.
Among the issues spotlighted in the UPR session were: freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association; safety of journalists; anti-discrimination measures, including that based on sexual orientation; hate crimes and hate speech, the rights of LGBT persons; preventing torture and ill-treatment and accountability; arbitrary detention; the abolition of the death penalty; steps to achieve gender equality; female genital mutilation; eliminating child labour; the rights of indigenous peoples; eradicating poverty; climate change and human rights; and enabling a safe environment for NGOs and human rights defenders.
With the conclusion of the session today, the UPR has now reviewed 126 States during its second cycle and is well on its way to achieving 100 per cent participation for this stage, as was the case for the first UPR cycle during which all 193 UN member States were examined.
During the second UPR cycle, States are expected to spell out the steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed during their first reviews and underline activities to advance human rights. The States reviewed at this session expressed a number of their achievements in this regard demonstrating their commitments to address human rights issues constructively, particularly for the benefit of those most vulnerable in their societies.
“This decisive step not only serves as a measurement of success of the UPR process, but also provides a vital stage for a global audience to hear views which often get neglected or drowned out by other competing events around the globe”, stated Ambassador Ruecker.
A few examples where States have made progress in realising their UPR recommendations are: steps to prevent gender-based and domestic violence and assist victims; measures to combat human trafficking; measures to improve the rights of women; employment opportunities for persons with disabilities; the fight against Ebola; protection measures for vulnerable groups and minorities; enactment of legislation to improve the rights of the child; adoption of health and education strategies and legislation and improving literacy rates; combatting corruption; and judicial reform measures.
Moreover, a number of the States reviewed during the session ratified a number of international treaties since their first review including: the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities; the first and second Optional Protocols to the Convention on the rights of the child; the Convention on the rights of migrant workers and members of their families; the Convention against torture; and the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court.
Now into its seventh year, the UPR has gained considerable momentum since it began in April 2008. Born out of the understanding that all States have human rights difficulties and thus room for improving their human rights records, this unique process is designed to encourage States to do more to improve the human rights situations in their countries.
Through the UPR process all United Nations member States’ human rights records are reviewed once every four years leading to an increased awareness of human rights situations worldwide. The ultimate goal of the UPR is the improvement of the human rights situations in every country with significant consequences for people around the globe.
Additionally, of the 14 States reviewed during this session, six had extended a standing invitation to the UN’s independent human rights experts, known as the Special Procedures, and three of these since their first UPR four years ago.
Significantly, the UPR process provides an opportunity to continue or start a dialogue with civil society about domestic human rights concerns. The majority of States undergoing this process have reported on measures they have taken to engage with civil society in preparation for their reviews. While civil society actors do not participate in the UPR sessions, their views have a strong influence on the proceedings
The session also attracted a large number of participants and high-level dignitaries from each State under review all of which were represented by a minister. In total, 1,111 statements were delivered throughout the two-week session, or an average of 79 per State, with 150 of the 193 UN members States participating in these reviews.
The next session of the UPR Working Group will be held from 5 to 14 May 2015.