[UPR Trax] No44: The custodians of the UPR

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group (WG) held its 18th session from the 27th ofJanuary to the 7th February 2014 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. Afghanistan, Cambodia, Chile, Comoros, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, New Zealand, Slovakia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYR Macedonia), Uruguay, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, and Yemen were examined. The peak of participation from recommending States was reached during the review of Viet Nam when 106 States took the floor to make recommendations, leaving 1 minute and 5 seconds for each statement. Several points of order were made during the review of Cyprus on territorial issues. Fortunately, this did not hamper the adoption of its report by the WG. The 14 UPR reports for this 18th session will be adopted during the 26th Human Rights Council (HRC) Session in June 2014.

HRC President recalls the nature and format of WG reports

In his opening speech the new Presidentof the HRC (the President), Mr. Baudelaire Ndong Ella, called to the attention of all delegations and member states “the need to respect the rules of procedures for the UPR contained in the resolution of July 2007, provisional resolution 16/21 of the HRC that firmly rejects any act of intimidation or threat of reprisals whether this be meted out against individuals or groups that are cooperating or may cooperate with the United Nations or other mechanisms of the HRC”. The President also drew attention to the letter dated 18 September 2013 which was circulated by his predecessor Mr. Remigiusz Achilles Henczel, in which the existing rules and practices governing the preparation of the reports of the WGwere recalled. In particular, the new HRC President clarified that all recommendations suggested during the UPR have to be included in the body of the WG report and that all recommendations included in the Report are part of the outcome of review that States under Review must address. He reiterated this position during the review on Eritrea on the 3rd of February stressing the fact that “the reports of the working group are factual reports which reflect what is said in the room by the state under consideration and the delegations which speak”.

Mr. Remigiusz Henczel, in 2013, and now Mr. Baudelaire Ndong Ella in 2014 have both acted as the custodians of the UPR by maintaining the universality and rule of equal treatment.

Joint statements and recommendations at UPR ruled out by HRC President

In another statement made on 30 January, the President ruled out joint statements and joint recommendations at the UPR. Basing this clarification on the “institution building package” and the “practice established during the first and second cycle”, Mr. Ndong Ella reminded States that statements and recommendations were “exclusively bilateral” and he invited all delegations “to continue respecting those practices”. This intervention came following Costa Rica’s efforts to be associated with the recommendations made by Botswana and Uruguay to New Zealand and Chile respectively, and with the statement made by Congo to FYR Macedonia. In accordance with the principles recalled by the President, Costa Rica was not mentioned in any of the three WG reports and the recommendations were solely attributed to Botswana, Uruguay and Congo. This was the first attempt by a country to have joint statements at the UPR. UPR Info welcomes HRC President’s clarification which ensured the consistency of the UPR and calls on States to safeguard the bilateral nature of the UPR process.


Less negotiation of recommendations

The WG reports for the 18th session of the UPR are available on the UPR Info website for consultation. At previous UPR sessions (during session 17  and before), we denounced the negotiation of recommendations between States. We are pleased to notice a decrease in this trend during this session as only three recommendations, two by Uruguay and one by FYR Macedonia  were actually negotiated.


New deadline for UPR 20

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has extended the deadline for submissions by civil society for the 20th session of the UPR WG (27 October to 7 November 2014) from 1st February 2014 to 15 March 2014.


UPR Info Pre-session 19 is coming up soon

Our Pre-session on States coming up for review at the 19th session of the UPR will be held from the 8th to the 10th of April 2014 at the Centre International de Conférence de Genève, 17 rue de Varembé.  The Pre-session,  a unique platform for dialogue, will bring together Permanent Missions, National Human Rights Institutions, and Civil Society Organisations to discuss the status of implementation of UPR recommendations in the following States under Review: Albania, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Norway, Portugal, and Qatar.

UPR Info is currently responding to all applications received by several national and international NGOs. In this regard, we encourage civil society organisations interested in participating on Portugal and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to contact us.


2751 recommendations more in the database

Recommendations made during UPR 16th session (April/May 2013) are now available in our database. A total of 2751 recommendations were made by 138 States to Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Germany, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, and Uzbekistan.

2751 is the highest number of recommendations made during one session. The average number of recommendations received by each State under Review was 196. Particularly noteworthy, Cuba received 386 recommendations, the highest number of recommendations ever received by a country during a UPR. This was partly due to the fact that 132 States took the floor during their review (122 made recommendations). From a "recommending States"’ perspective, each made an average of 2.52 recommendations to each State under Review.

The number of specific recommendations (category 5 in our database) is the lowest (30.1%) of the second cycle (respectively 30.9%, 33.36%, and 31.5% for session 13, 14, and 15) and the fourth lowest of all sessions, after sessions 1, 4 and 5 (respectively 25.8%, 29.2% and 27.8%).


Quote of the Month:

As a state, we express our full intent of abiding by the recommendations that are compliant with international standards.
Doctor Homero Guerrero, Minister, Secretary of the Presidency of Uruguay, UPR of Uruguay, 29 January 2014

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Upcoming Deadlines:

  • 16 February 2014: Deadline to submit NGO written statements at the Human Rights Council 25th session (3-28 March 2014), including on the adoptions of UPR reports for countries reviewed during the 17th UPR session (October 2013) and on the General debate on the UPR process.
  • 28 February 2014: Opening of the NGO list of speakers for oral statements at the Human Rights Council 25th session (3-28 March 2014), including on the adoptions of UPR reports for countries reviewed during 17th UPR session (October 2013) and on the General debate on the UPR process.
  • 15 March 2014: Deadline for submission of information by civil society at UPR 20 on Angola, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, San Marino and Slovenia.

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