On November the 12th, the Working Group of the UPR concluded its 9th session after reviewing the following sixteen States: Liberia, Malawi, Mongolia, Panama, Maldives, Andorra, Bulgaria, Honduras, United States, Marshall Islands, Croatia, Jamaica, Libya, Micronesia, Lebanon and Mauritania. One of the highlights of the session was the review of the United States which attracted wide interest from States, civil society and the media. An additional room broadcasting the review was used to fit the numerous interested representatives. The “Town Hall meeting” or mock UPR held in the afternoon following the review was a unique occasion for civil society to directly address their concerns to the US government. Another highlight was the review of Lebanon which was the subject of many points of order by both Lebanon itself and Israel. The former made points of order when Israel called Hezbollah a terrorist organisation and the latter when Lebanon and Syria talked about the impact of Israel on the human rights situation in Lebanon.
On November 11, 15 and 18, H.E. Mr Omar Hilale, Ambassador of Morocco, facilitator on the UPR, held three informal consultations in the framework of the Human Rights Council review. The discussions followed a list of “Issues to be discussed” based on the main proposals made at the 1st session of the Working Group and contained in the Compilation of States proposals. Some of the issues debated were: the length of the cycle (4 or 5 years), the need for a gap at the end of the first cycle, the need for guidelines for the three basis documents, the clustering of, responses to and conformity with international human rights law of recommendations and the participation of stakeholders and notably national human rights institutions.
The facilitator will make a presentation to the HRC about these informals on Friday 3rd afternoon. The next step for the HRC review will be the Bangkok retreat from 8 to 10 December before the second Working Group session in February.
On UPR-info.org, in respect to the HRC review, we organised on Friday 19th a conference on the UPR. With the support of the Open Society Foundation – Budapest, we gathered 40 representatives from States, NGOs, National institutions, intergovernmental and international organisations as well as the Office of the High-Commissioner to discuss the follow-up, its assessment and the subsequent cycle.
We also prepared summaries of the three informal consultations as well as an excel sheet containing the various proposals made during the Working Group first session held in October and the three informals.
Recommendations from session 7 are finally in our database. It is worth noting that the number of recommendations which received a general response or no response decreased drastically, representing respectively 4.2% and 2.3% for session 7 compared to respectively 13.9% and 8.5% for session 1 to 6.
Finally, UPR Info is pleased to announce you a new feature on its website. We will now interview every month one individual engaged in the UPR process. We will introduce the video in this newsletter, UPR Trax, as well as announce the name of the next person to be interviewed. You will then be able to send questions you would like us to ask to this next interviewee. This month we started with Joshua Cooper from the US Human Rights Network. His organisation was very much involved in the United States (US) review and notably helped sixty representatives from US local NGOs to come to Geneva for the review. Next month we will interview H.E. Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Ambassador of Thailand and President of the HRC. Please send questions you would like to ask him on the UPR and the HRC review to info [at] upr-info.org.