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Universal Periodic Review Working Group to examine human rights records of 14 States at its forty-third session from 1 to 12 May 2023

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GENEVA (26 April 2023) – The forty-third session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will be held in Geneva from 1 May to 12 May 2023, during which 14 States will have their human rights records examined.  The holding of this session marks the third to take place within the fourth cycle of the UPR, during which all 193 UN member States will undergo a review of their human rights record through this unique process.

The group of States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during this session are (in order of scheduled review): France, Tonga, Romania, Mali, Botswana, the Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein and Serbia. The meeting will take place in Room 20 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva and will be webcast live.

During the fourth cycle (Nov. 2022 to Feb. 2027), which is focused on enhanced 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.

High-level delegations representing the 14 countries are scheduled to address the Working Group, which comprises the entire membership of the 47-member Human Rights Council, and other UN member or observer States wishing to take part. Over 100 States, on average, make 2.5 recommendations to each State under Review (SuR). SuRs are expected to present efforts made to fulfil their human rights obligations and commitments, particularly since their last UPR review, assessing positive developments and identifying challenges. The timetable of State reviews and adoption and distribution of reports can be found below and 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 adopting the report containing 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 during the session were selected through a drawing of lots on 11 January 2022 during an organizational meeting of the Council.

The final outcome of the forty-third session will be adopted by the plenary of the Human Rights Council at its fifty-fourth regular session taking place in September/October 2023, when during one hour, in addition to the State reviewed and other States, UN Resident Coordinators, Country Directors of UN Entities, National Human Rights Institutions and NGOs can also take the floor.

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 of 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 follow-up reviews during the second UPR cycle (January 2012 to November 2016) and the third cycle (May 2017 to January 2022) 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, among other things, the implementation of the accepted recommendations and the developments of the human rights situation in the State under review.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) supports States in their engagement in 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, and in cooperation with the UN system.
The implementation of UPR recommendations aims to strengthen 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 will send letters – which are available online - to all foreign ministers of States upon the adoption of their fourth cycle reviews encouraging their continued engagement in achieving concrete results, especially on the recommendations they have supported A matrix of clustered UPR recommendations supported and/or noted by the member State will be attached to that letter and will be also available, together with infographics on trends between the third and fourth cycles and the link between human rights recommendations and the SDGs. 

The Human Rights Council also adopted, by consensus, resolution 51/30 on 7 October 2022 on strengthening the voluntary funds for the UPR, which, among other things, scaled up the dedicated capacity in each regional OHCHR office during the fourth cycle to better respond to the growing requests for assistance through the UPR Trust Fund Implementation.  Through the same resolution, the Council decided to convene a high-level panel discussion at its 52nd regular session on 1 March 2023 focusing on the achievements, good practices and lessons learned by the two voluntary funds during the implementation of their mandates over the past 15 years and with a view to further optimizing the use of these funds to facilitate the participation of developing States, particularly least developed countries and small island developing States, in the 4th cycle (See 15th anniversary brochure).

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 Sustainable Development Goals (summary).

On 24 February 2020, the Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights, called for “practical guidance [to be issued] to every UN country leader around the world to strengthen our platforms of cooperation to address human rights challenges utilizing the power and potential of the Universal Periodic Review.” The UPR Practical Guidance is since September 2020 available in all official languages of the UN:
[العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Русский | Español]

A Repository of Good Practices on How the UPR Process Supports Sustainable Development was jointly issued by UNDP OHCHR and DCO and is also available since 2022.

In addition, the Secretary-General’s report on “Our Common Agenda” issued on 10 September 2021 cited the UPR as a model “to encourage mutual accountability” in strengthening effective multilateral legal frameworks (paragraph 107).  

UPR Reporting and Objectives

Under 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).  In order to strengthen the role of Parliaments and other stakeholders in all phases of the UPR, TIPs have been issued in close cooperation with the IPU, GANHRI and UPR Info respectively.  They are available at: 

UPR Tips for Parliaments:  
https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/UPR/TIPs_Members_Parliament.pdf

UPR Tips for NHRIs and NGOs:
https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/UPR/Tips_21Sept2020.pdf

A Guide for Civil Society for the UPR 4th cycle
https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/documents/hrbodies/upr/sessions/2022-10-24/UPR-4th-cycle-civil-society-guide.pdf

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 43rd Session:  
(Contains links to the documentation page for each State)

Monday, 1 May
09h00 – 12h30 Review of France
14h30 – 18h00 Review of Tonga

Tuesday, 2 May
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Romania
14h30 – 18h00 Review of Mali

Wednesday, 3 May
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Botswana
14h30 – 18h00 Review of the Bahamas

Thursday, 4 May
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Burundi
14h30 – 18h00 Review of Luxembourg

Friday, 5 May
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Barbados
15h30 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on France, Tonga, Romania, Mali and Botswana

Monday, 8 May
9h00 – 12h30 Review of Montenegro
14h30 – 18h00 Review of the United Arab Emirates

Tuesday, 9 May
9h00 – 12h30 Review of Israel
14h30 – 18h00 Review of Liechtenstein

Wednesday, 10 May
09h00 - 12h30 Review of Serbia
15h30 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on the Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados and Montenegro

Thursday, 11 May
No meetings

Friday, 12 May
Adoption of the reports on the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein, and Serbia.

ENDS

Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism is located on the Universal Periodic Review webpage.

Media contacts:  Pascal Sim, Media Officer, OHCHR, [email protected] or David Díaz Martín, OHCHR, [email protected]

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