Following concerns expressed by 77 NGOs on the 10 June 2013, the Human Rights Council (HRC) President issued a letter clarifying the format of UPR Working Group reports, thus partially closing the Pandora's box opened during Russia's UPR. UPR Info is pleased that the HRC Presidency seriously considered the dangerous precedent of placing recommendations in footnotes and delivered a statement at the HRC on 23 September thanking the President for his clarifications.
During the Russian UPR, Georgia made two recommendations that Russia did not want to acknowledge. Russia claimed these recommendations were not within the framework of the UPR and thus did not require a response from them. Russia then requested these recommendations not to be included in the Working Group Report, but ultimately the Working Group placed the Georgian recommendations in a footnote of the Report. On 10 June 2013, subsequent to the Russian Working Group review and the inclusion of recommendations in footnotes, 77 NGOs raised concerns regarding this worrying practice.
The President of the HRC took note of the concerns raised by the NGOs and the possibility of a dangerous precedent being set with the Russian report. On September 18th, 2013, the HRC President circulated a letter to all Permanent Missions in Geneva reminding everyone of the UPR's existing practices and rules for Working Group Draft Reports. The letter notably clarified that all recommendations suggested during the UPR have to be included in the body of the Working Group Report and that all recommendations included in the Report are part of the outcome that States under Review must address. During the plenary adoption of the Report on Friday, 20 September 2013, both the U.K. and the U.S. took the floor stating that all recommendations should be included in the body of the report. The HRC President,in line with his letter clarifications, requested that Russia address the two recommendations submitted by Georgia contained in the footnotes. Russia stuck with its previous arguments. Thus, the President declared that in that case, as Russia could not support the recommendations "they will therefore be noted."
During the General Debate held on Monday, 23 September 2013, many countries took the time to commend the President for his clarifications. Armenia, Estonia, Lithuania on behalf of the European Union, the Maldives, the Netherlands, and Uruguay explicitly supported and welcomed the President's letter. All reaffirmed their commitment to the UPR modalities and the established practices and procedures. Not a single Member State or NGO raised objections to the President's clarification letter. Thus in the future all recommendations presented during a Working Group review session should be reflected in the body of the Working Group Draft Report. States under Review will be required to answer all recommendations in order to uniformly and universally apply §32 of HRC Resolution 5/1.