[UPR Trax] :No27: The HRC completes the review of all UN member States
NEWSLETTER 27 – October 2011
On 13 October, the Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) completed the historic review of the human rights situation of the 192 United Nations member States. During this first cycle which took place from 2008 to 2011, a total of 20’000 recommendations were made by more than 160 countries. The average number of recommendations received by a State under Review went from about twenty five during the first session to a hundred and forty during the last session. Approximately 70% of these 20’000 recommendations were accepted by States and 15% were rejected, the other ones receiving general or no responses. Half of the recommendations made during the first cycle concerned the signature, ratification and implementation of international instruments and the protection of the rights of women and children. Other issues often raised included torture and justice.
The last session of this first cycle was held on 3-14 October reviewing the following seventeen countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Haiti, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Republic of Moldova, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Togo, Uganda, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. This session witnessed the participation of numerous coalitions of grassroot NGOs, including from Ireland, Moldova, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. This vibrant engagement of national civil society organisations through joint submissions and lobbying activities at home and in Geneva is already seen as one of the main successes of the first cycle.
Other highlights of this twelfth session included Syria’s consideration that many recommendations received on issues of detention conditions, freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of association and peaceful assembly were already implemented. This assumption was contested during the Working Group Report adoption by the States which made the recommendations. The United States also criticized Syria for rejecting recommendations on the basis of the State which had made them. Finally, for the first time, a country, Tajikistan, rejected a recommendation because it was dealing with an individual case.
With regards to the follow-up, an online questionnaire has been prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to seek the views of States and relevant stakeholders on the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance and how it should support the implementation of recommendations. Responses need to be submitted by November 4th.
Concerning NGO submissions, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights just released an update of the technical guidelines for relevant stakeholders’ written submissions. These guidelines, which describe the content, format and modalities for national human rights institutions and civil society organisations’ submissions to the UPR, contain two main changes:
- the scope of the submissions: stakeholders are encouraged to provide information on the human rights situation in the State under review, including information on the follow-up to the preceding review and on developments since the last review;
- the length of the submissions: these should not extend 2815 words for individual submissions (instead of 5 pages) and 5630 words for joint submissions (instead of 10 pages).
At UPR Info, we organized on Thursday 13th October an event to celebrate the end of the first cycle of the UPR in the Human Rights Council’s room of the Palais des Nations. This celebration, co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland, Morocco and the United Kingdom, aimed at highlighting the achievements in human rights obtained during the first cycle, as well as the challenges and opportunities the second cycle would present. More than 250 people attended the event and such impressive presence demonstrated the interest of States and civil society actors in the UPR process.
Many ideas were shared by the speakers on how to ensure a successful second cycle, including:
- To take into consideration all recommendations during the follow-up, even the rejected ones.
- To make less recommendations but more precise (effective recommendations are precise, practical, constructive, forward looking, implementable and time-bound);
- To create of a comprehensive system to track implementation of recommendations, with appropriate indicators;
- To ensure that States report on the status of implementation of the recommendations and explain why if some of them have still not been addressed.
- To cooperate with Treaty bodies to implement common recommendations;
- To ensure that treaty bodies consider rejected UPR recommendations during their constructive dialogue with States;
- To hold consultations with civil society before the draft of the national report;
- To include stakeholders consultations outcomes in the national report.
Please find more information on these issues in the news below.
Quote of the month
“It is thanks to the UPR that many countries […] have undertaken democratic reforms to strengthen the rule of law […] and have engaged in an irreversible democratization process. One could even link the Arab Spring to the UPR”.
H.E. Omar Hilale, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Mission of Morocco to the United Nations in Geneva, UPR Info’s celebration of the first UPR cycle, 13 October 2011, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.
Interview of the month
Our interviewee of the month is Ms. Lucia Nader, Executive Director at Conectas Direitos Humanos, Brazil. She explains us the work of her organisation in regards to Brazil’s review at the second cycle of the UPR next May as well as the colloquium Conectas is organising in November on the issue of the implementation of recommendations:
Deadlines for NGO participation in the UPR
21 November 2011: Deadline for the submission of information on States reviewed during the first week of the 13th UPR session (21st May – 1st June): Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Finland and the United Kingdom.
28 November 2011: Deadline for the submission of information on States reviewed during the second week of the 13th UPR session (21st May – 1st June): India, Brazil, Philippines, Algeria, Poland, Netherlands and South Africa.
Latest documents on UPR-info.org
- Kenya Stakeholders Coalition for the UPR (KSC-UPR), Annual Progress Report on Kenya's implementation of recommendations, September 2011.
- HRC Secretariat, Table containing Samoa's reponses to recommendations, September 2011.
- David Frazier, Evaluating the Implementation of UPR Recommendations: A Quantitative Analysis of the Implementation Efforts of Nine UN Member States, August 2011.
Latest Mid-term Implementation Assessments
Session 3: Uzbekistan
UPR Info already published thirteen Mid-term Implementation Assessments (MIAs), namely: Mali and Tonga for session 2; Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Montenegro and United Arab Emirates for session 3. MIAs on Colombia, France, Israel, Romania, Serbia, Turkmenistan and Tuvalu will come soon.
News on the UPR
- Technical guidelines for stakeholders submissions updated - 2 November 2011
On November 1st, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released the "guidelines for relevant stakeholders’ written submissions". Read more here…
- Tajikistan rejects a recommendation because it is dealing with individual cases - 17 October 2011
On 5 October, at the adoption of the UPR Working Group Report on Tajikistan, the delegation rejected a recommendation mentioning individual cases on the ground that they do not fall within the framework of the review. Read more here…
- The United States criticizes Syria for rejecting recommendations because they were made by them - 17 October 2011
On 11 October, the United States took the floor during the adoption of Syria’s UPR Working Group report to regret that recommendations were either accepted or rejected by the delegation depending of which country made them. Read more here…
- The United Kingdom, Norway, Poland and Japan challenge Syria’s assessment that their recommendations are already implemented - 17 October 2011
On Tuesday 11 October, the United Kingdom, Norway, Poland and Japan took the floor during the adoption of Syria’s Working Group Report to contest the delegation’s decision to consider their recommendations as already implemented. Read more here…
- Survey for stakeholders on the UPR Fund for financial and technical assistance - 10 October 2011
The OHCHR prepared an online questionnaire to seek the views of States and relevant stakeholders on the contribution of the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance. Read more here…
News at UPR Info
- Outcome of our celebration of the UPR 1st cycle - 21 October 2011
On Thursday 13th October, UPR Info organized an event to celebrate the end of the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in the Human Rights Council’s room of the Palais des Nations. Read more here…
- UPR Info organises celebration of the UPR 1st cycle - 21 October 2011
This celebration, co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland, the Kingdom of Morocco and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, aimed at highlighting the achievements on human rights obtained during the first cycle, as well as the challenges and opportunities the second cycle would present. Read more here…