HRC 41st Session: Advancing LGBTI, Human Trafficking, Death Penalty Rights, and More

Adoption of UPR outcomes at the 41st Session of the Human Rights Council

On 4 and 5 July, the 41st Session of the Human Rights Council saw the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) outcomes from the 32nd Session of the Working Group.

UPR Adoptions

States that saw their review outcomes adopted are: New Zealand, Afghanistan, Chile, Viet Nam, Uruguay, Yemen, Vanuatu, North Macedonia, the Comoros, Slovakia, Eritrea, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, and Cambodia.

During the UPR adoptions, 2449 recommendations were accepted in full of the 3022 delivered to States under Review during the 32nd Session of the UPR Working Group.

At the adoption of the New Zealand UPR outcome, the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, the country’s independent national human rights institution, presented a video statement urging human rights to inform and be meet in synergy with the new and widely lauded wellbeing budget. The country concluded its adoption with a commitment to follow up with a mid-term report.

Significantly, States welcomed statements on the part of the Cambodian government committing to establishing a national human rights institution and to abolishing the death penalty. Cambodia notably saw its first UPR recommendations on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons. During the UPR Info Pre-sessions panel on Cambodia (12 December 2018), 42 recommendations were presented by civil society organizations (CSOs) to 44 States, 13 of which were reiterated at the Working Group by 15 States present at the Pre-sessions using similar or exact language. At the event, one CSO presented 11 recommendations on LGBTI rights. Five of these recommendations were presented by 7 States at the Working Group using similar or exact language, six of whom were present at the Pre-sessions. All recommendations on this issue were accepted by the State including those on amending the Constitution to allow for marriage equality for same-sex couples, enacting laws and policies explicitly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of SOGI, and enabling legal gender recognition.

 

Cyprus similarly accepted all recommendations related to LGBTI issues. It also linked its action plan for gender equality in education and related recommendations with SDG 4, and its women’s empowerment practices to SDG 5, a good UPR practice.

States and civil society spoke extensively during the adoption of the Dominican Republic report on issues related to femicide, early marriage, statelessness, teen pregnancy, and violence against women.

At the adoption for Yemen, civil society organizations (CSOs) expressed concern over humanitarian access, honor killings, enforced disappearances, protection of journalists, the arms trade fueling war crimes, and inequality between men and women before court.
 

In the Comoros, stakeholders welcomed significant steps such as the recent ratification of international legal instruments including the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Punishment. They commended the country for its cooperation with Special Procedures and for the steps it has taken towards the elimination of the death penalty. CSOs, however, shared concern over the domestic reflection of the international trend toward restricted media, freedom of expression, freedom of belief.

In Afghanistan, States welcome the decrease in death penalty offenses, efforts to eliminate children from armed forces, and the recent executive order on child marriage to bring rights of the child in the country in line with international standards.

Ahead of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons taking place this month on 30 July, States raised issue with continued trafficking in the Comoros, Chile, Cambodia, and the Dominican Republic.

General Debate

During the Item 6 General Debate, UPR Info took the floor to present a statement on the subject of increasing the efficiency of the Human Rights Council. During discussions on this matter, it has been proposed to move the adoption of UPR outcomes to the Working Group, such that it would take place outside of the Human Rights Council. After deliberation on the merits and challenges of this move, UPR Info has taken the position that doing so would compromise the values of the UPR by presenting unequal review time between States and diminishing consultation time with civil society. See our full statement or watch the webcast here (part 1) (part 2).