Adoption of UPR outcomes at the 50th Session of the HRC: Some Highlights
On the 30th of June and 4th of July, the 50th Session of the Human Rights Council saw the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) outcomes of the 40th Session of the Working Group.
States that saw their review outcomes adopted are Togo, Syrian Arab Republic, Iceland, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Lithuania, Uganda, Timor-Leste, Republic of Moldova, South Sudan, Haiti, and Sudan.
During the UPR adoptions, 2’392 recommendations were accepted in full delivered to States under review during the 40th Session of the UPR Working Group which represents 78.58% of acceptance.
During the three-hour interactive discussion delegations noted a number of positive achievements by Togo. These included the emphasis given by the Government in the fight against corruption, human trafficking, and the establishment of term limits for the mandates of the president, deputies, senators, and local governments. Nevertheless, the situation of freedom of expression is of concern, as journalists are still subject to numerous threats, including arbitrary detention.
Syrian Arab Republic is encouraged to continue its efforts to combat enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, the use of torture and promote the rights of children, women, and refugees. It was noted that the country has accepted the majority of the recommendations and expects them to be implemented as those referring to “continue to provide humanitarian personnel with unhindered access to the to the population in need of assistance”.
Iceland was congratulated for being the first country in the world to have obtained an equal pay law. Nevertheless, Iceland was asked to take concrete steps to fight for the rights of people with disabilities, to adopt the legislative measures already proposed to combat gender, domestic and sexual violence and to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers.
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was encouraged to continue its efforts, in particular to ensure the independence and impartiality of lawyers and judges. It was noted with regret that recommendations in favour of freedom of expression, notably on attacks and arbitrary arrests of journalists exercising their right to freedom of expression, were not accepted. It was acknowledged, however, that Venezuela was making efforts to promote human rights in the country. The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Council reported that a second National Human Rights Plan was being developed with the support of OHCHR.
Zimbabwe's commitment to the UPR process was commended. However, it was noted that many of the recommendations were noted mostly topics about including gender issues, the LGBTQ+ community and migrants. It was noted that there is an urgent need for action in some areas, notably in relation to child justice and access to education as well as the rights of persons belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, as violent acts based on gender and sexual orientation are becoming more pronounced. It was also noted that there is a shrinking civic and democratic space in the country, which is a concern for the 2023 presidential elections.
Lithuania was congratulated for accepting the majority of the recommendations and was invited to continue to intensify its development in the field of human rights. In particular, it was noted that the recommendations on children's rights, including the abolition of corporal punishment, had been taken into account. Nevertheless, it was said that it was urgent to recognise the rights of same-sex families and to fight for the protection of transgender people, as well as the need to strengthen strategic measures to combat discrimination and violence against women and to guarantee the rights of people with disabilities.
Uganda was encouraged to realise sexual and reproductive health and rights, promote gender equality and introduce sex education to combat the high rates of teenage pregnancy, genital mutilation and the spread of HIV. It was also asked to implement the recommendations on minorities rights, right of LGBTQ+ people and the protection of human rights defenders without delay, as well as to take measures to combat the harassment and persecution of lawyers.
Timor-Leste was commended for accepting the majority of the recommendations received, including its commitment to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Cruel Treatment. The country was encouraged to continue its efforts on sexual and reproductive health and rights and to address gender-based violence against women and girls. It was noted with regret that the recommendation on banning the child marriages was not accepted. It was also requested to strengthen access to education, improving services to access health care facilities for all its citizens and to fight for freedom of expression.
Moldova has been commended for its efforts, in particular for the strengthening of national human rights institutions as well as efforts to advance women's rights and gender equality. Nevertheless, efforts must continue notably to guarantee the independence of the judiciary and also to ensure that no one suffers arbitrary disappearance anymore.
Although South Sudan was commended for accepting the majority of the recommendations and for implementing the revitalised peace agreement. The country was encouraged to strive for political stability and that more needs to be done to reduce the level of gender-based violence, with women and girls being particularly vulnerable. South Sudan was also urged to work towards the abolition of the death penalty and to ensure the rights of freedom of expression and the safety of journalists.
Haiti was asked to adopt a normative framework to protect human rights defenders and the postponement of the draft Penal Code was singled out. Haiti was also asked to overcome the challenges posed by child labour and sexual violence against women. Nevertheless, it was welcomed that security has been strengthened and procedures have been put in place to fight corruption.
Sudan has lifted the state of emergency and was commended for opening an OHCHR office and establishing a national human rights institution. Sudan's cooperation with the Human Rights Council has been well noted. The government continues its efforts in institutional and legal reforms and ratification of international human rights conventions. Child abuse, including forced marriages, is also a matter of concern. However, efforts to combat female genital mutilation and the criminalisation of human trafficking were welcomed. The country was also commended for adopting the Convention against Torture and for abolishing all forms of corporal punishment.
 Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review – Syrian Arab Republic