51st HRC Session: Highlights of the General Debate, Item 6.
On 30 September 2022, the 51st Human Rights Council (HRC) held the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) under Item 6. At the debate, many States recognized the positive impact of the UPR:
“It is a learning process, aimed at promoting human rights compliance through dialogue” Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi from the Permanent Representative of Finland.
Referred also as “the crown jewel of the Council”, States and civil society organizations seized the opportunity to present their national achievements and good practices in implementing UPR recommendations.
The establishment of monitoring tools was one of the measures undertaken by States in strengthening the implementation process. Malaysia was the first country to adopt the new version of OHCHR’s National Recommendations Tracking Database (NRTD) in July 2022. “We are confident that the NRTD will improve the effective follow-ups of UPR recommendations by all stakeholders at the national level”, said the representative from Malaysia. In Slovenia, the Interministerial Commission for Human Rights has placed the review of UPR recommendations implementation on its agenda as a standing item, and the country has submitted a mid-term report for the third time.
States, such as Indonesia and Georgia, recognized the importance of civil society in the UPR process. “Inclusiveness, transparency, and participation of civil society organisations were central to the preparation of Finland’s fourth national report as well”, added the Finnish Ambassador. Civil society organizations were also invited to comment on the content of the national report as well as the level of implementation of the recommendations of the previous cycle of the Nordic country.
Armenia, together with Argentina, Fiji, Norway, Pakistan, and South Africa presented a resolution on Strengthening the voluntary funds for the UPR mechanism of the HRC that was adopted on 7 October 2022 per consensus. Noted the significant and impactful support provided by the funds to States despite various challenges, including that posed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Resolution encouraged all States to consider contributing to the Voluntary Fund for Participation in the UPR and the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the Implementation of the mechanism. The Resolution also decided to convene, at its 52nd session, a high-level panel discussion focusing on the achievements, good practices and lessons learned by the two voluntary funds during the implementation of their mandates over the past 15 years and reflecting on further optimization of the use of these funds.
Following the interventions of States, civil society organization took the floor to share their concerns on specific countries as well as sharing good practices to enhance the potential of the UPR process. UPR Info made a joint statement with a coalition of NGOs led by the Centre Catholique International de Genève (CCIG) on the need to further engage different segments of civil society to ensure effective implementation of the UPR recommendations, and therefore, to advance the realization of human rights at the local level. “We recommend implementing targeted capacity building initiatives to widen the pool of actors reached and ensure that human rights education and monitoring is systematically undertaken by key local stakeholders, including the government, the judiciary, and the Parliament”, concluded Maria D’Onofrio, Executive Director of the CCGI. (To read the full statement click here and for more information on the involvement of local actors here.)