The second cycle of the UPR kicked off with the 13th session of the UPR Working Group at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 21 May 2012 – 4 June 2012. The human rights records of the following 14 States were reviewed: Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, Ecuador, Finland, India, Indonesia, Morocco, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Tunisia and the United Kingdom. It was a promising 13th session with the participation of high level delegations headed notably by one Vice-President and ten Ministers. Three key elements were at stake at this session in the perspective of the second cycle: the list of speakers, the number of recommendations made and the assessment of the implementation of first cycle recommendations.
An average of 68.1 statements were made per Review at the 13th session. When these same 14 States were reviewed in 2008, the average was 46.4 statements, denoting an increase of nearly 20 statements per Review. Most States under Review took advantage of the ten minute increased allocation of time, with exceptions including South Africa and India which had about 20 minutes left over. The new modalities for the list of speakers were a success. The President of the Human Rights Council (HRC) enforced the time limit very strictly and cut off microphones at the said time. Some recommendations were not included because the delegations did not have the time to read them out, but everything was handled smoothly. Additionally, swapping places was not used very often. Only eight countries in total swapped places on Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, Ecuador, the Netherlands, South Africa, Philippines and Poland.
In total, about 2000 recommendations were made during the 13th session, a figure along the same lines as the last sessions of the first cycle. Half of States (Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, India, Netherlands, Poland, South Africa and the United Kingdom) chose to postpone their responses to recommendations to the Human Rights Council adoption in September. Attempts to cluster recommendations in the Reports of the Working Group have also been undertaken. In addition, Ecuador, Finland and Morocco made voluntary pledges.
According to Resolution A/HRC/RES/16/21, the second cycle should look into developments since the first review and assessments of the implementation of 2008 recommendations. The majority of States under Review took this opportunity in both their National Reports and during their opening statements. However, overall, few “reviewing States” made reference to the recommendations they had made or others had made at the first cycle. It is worth noting that most of the States which fought during the 2011 HRC Review to have the second cycle concentrating mostly on the implementation of 2008 recommendations did not make reference to them.
Lastly, the HRC President made a notable statement during the adoption of Bahrain’s Working Group draft report. She took the floor to deplore a press campaign in Bahrain against the human rights defenders who travelled to Geneva to participate in the UPR and asked the delegation to protect them upon their return home.
On 3 May, the Permanent Missions of Morocco, Switzerland and the United Kingdom organised an informal discussion among States on the second cycle of the UPR that triggered fruitful exchanges with the intention of sparking further discussion and reflection upon ways to strengthen the UPR mechanism.
The HRC also selected the troika members for States to be reviewed at the 14th session (22 October - 5 November 2012) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights changed the deadlines for the submission of information from civil society at 16th session of the UPR Working Group to be held in May/June 2013. The new deadlines are now 2 October 2012 (instead of 5 November) and 9 October 2012 (instead of 12 November).
At UPR Info, between the months of January and March, we teamed up with Mandat International to conduct a survey to make the process through which States draft their interventions for the UPR working group publicly available. 31 States provided insights into their drafting processes, and we hope that this information helps facilitate NGO’s interaction and advocacy efforts with States.
We held our General Assembly on 27 April 2012 during which time the 2011 Annual Report was approved.
Finally, the Follow-up Programme is now working on session 6 and the first report to be published will be on Cambodia.
Please find more detailed information on these issues in the news below.