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Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review Working Group to hold thirty-fourth session in Geneva from 4 to 15 November 2019

30 October 2019

Working Group to Review the Human Rights Records in 14 States

GENEVA (30 October 2019) - The thirty-fourth session of the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will be held in Geneva from 4 to 15 November during which the next group of 14 States are scheduled to have their human rights records examined under this mechanism.

The group of States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during this session are (in order of scheduled review): Italy, El Salvador, Gambia, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Fiji, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Angola, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Madagascar, Iraq, Slovenia, Egypt and Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The meeting will take place in Room XX at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

High-level delegations representing the 14 countries are scheduled to come before the Working Group, which comprises the entire membership of the 47-member Human Rights Council, and other States wishing to take part.  Some 100 States, on average, make recommendations to the State under Review (SuR).  SuRs are expected 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, and online.

The thirty-fourth session of the UPR Working Group marks the seventh session held during the third UPR cycle.  During the third UPR cycle, which is focused on implementation and follow up, States are expected to spell out steps they have taken to implement recommendations received during their previous reviews, in particular those which enjoyed their support, 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 are available online. 

During the session, an interactive dialogue between the country under review and the Working Group takes place.  Each country review lasts three and one-half hours and an additional half hour for each country will be devoted to the adoption of the recommendations put forward by their peers.  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 UPR working group sessions in 2019 were selected through a drawing of lots on 14 January during an organizational meeting of the Council.  

The final outcome of the thirty-fourth session will be adopted by the plenary of the Human Rights Council at its forty-third regular session taking place in February/March 2020.

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. 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.  

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 (April 2008 to October 2011).  Subsequently, all 193 States underwent a follow-up review during the second UPR cycle (January 2012 to November 2016).  With the holding of the 27th session of the UPR Working Group in May 2017, the third cycle commenced. 

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. 

As we approach the middle of the third cycle, the UPR has provided OHCHR with an opportunity to strengthen the engagement with all States on the follow-up and implementation of international human rights mechanisms’ outcomes, in particular those of the UPR, through cooperative efforts and sharing of best practices among States and stakeholders. 

While requests for assistance under the Voluntary Fund for UPR Implementation have grown (see please documents 41/28 and 4129), three regional workshops were held last year in Africa (Uganda, Senegal and Cape Verde) on good practices of implementation in the context of the 3rd cycle of the UPR linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (see please emerging good practices as contained in HC report, HRC 41/25, hyperlink please). The implementation of UPR recommendations is expected to result in strengthening national human rights protection systems – not least through a greater engagement of parliaments and other national stakeholders, including NHRIs and NGOs, and in addressing the root causes of human rights violations, and as such, has a preventive effect. 

The High Commissioner for Human Rights sent letters to foreign ministers of States upon the adoption of their third cycle reviews encouraging their continued engagement in achieving concrete results, especially on the recommendations they have supported; 84 such letters are available online. A matrix of clustered UPR recommendations supported and or noted by the member State is also available together with an infographics with basic information on trends between the second and third cycle as well as in terms of the link between human rights recommendations and the SDGs.   It may be recalled  that the Human Rights Council held a high-level panel discussion on 26 February 2018 session where participants focussed on challenges and opportunities in implementing UPR recommendations in view of strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights at the national level fully integrated with the efforts at the SDGs (summary).

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, State reviews are based on: information prepared by the State concerned (National Report), submitted by the State and presented orally during the review; information contained in the reports of treaty bodies, Special Procedures, and other relevant UN mechanisms and entities (UN Compilation) 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 research institutes, regional organizations, also to be summarized by OHCHR in a separate document (Summary of Stakeholders).  

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 34th Session:   
(Contains links to documentation page for each State)

Monday, 4 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Italy
14h30 – 18h00 Review of El Salvador
Tuesday, 5 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Gambia
14h30 – 18h00 Review of Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

Wednesday, 6 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Fiji
14h30 – 18h00 Review of San Marino

Thursday, 7 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Kazakhstan
14h30 – 18h00 Review of Angola

Friday, 8 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Iran (Islamic Republic of)
15h00 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Italy, El Salvador, Gambia, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Fiji and San Marino 

Monday, 11 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Madagascar
14h30 – 18h00 Review of Iraq

Tuesday, 12 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Slovenia
16h30 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Kazakhstan, Angola, Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Wednesday, 13 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Egypt
14h30 – 18h00 Review of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Thursday, 14 November 
16h30 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Madagascar, Iraq and Slovenia.

Friday, 15 November 
17h00 to 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Egypt and Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the Universal Periodic Review webpage

Media contacts:  Rolando Gómez, Media Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711 or [email protected]; Sarah Lubbersen, Public information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9813 or [email protected]; Sanna You, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, +41(0)22 917 8738 or [email protected]