Conclusion of the 40th Session of the UPR Working Group
Conclusion of the 40th Session of the UPR Working Group
The 40th session of the Universal Period Review (UPR) Working Group took place from the 24th of January to the 9th of February 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland. During the Working Group, the human rights situation in the following countries was discussed in an interactive dialogue: Togo, Syrian Arab Republic, Iceland, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Lithuania, Uganda, Timor-Leste, Moldova, South Sudan, Haiti, and Sudan.
The session saw a total of 3003 recommendations put forward by Recommending States. Frequently occurring topics included women’s rights, children’s rights, discrimination, and international instruments. Among the twelve States under Review (SuR), Venezuela, Syria, and Sudan received the highest number of recommendations. On average, States received recommendations from 90 delegations during the interactive dialogue. The final report for each SuR will be adopted at the 50th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in June 2022.
Togo was the first country to be reviewed receiving 224 recommendations. During the interactive dialogue, 89 states took the floor to address some key issues. Amongst the top issues raised were women’s rights, children’s rights, justice, and detention in the country. In this regard, different States recommended Togo to ratify the OP-CEDAW, take measures to fight forced marriage and FGM, combat child labour and trafficking, guarantee the rule of law and independence of the judiciary and prohibit torture and excessive use of violence.
Syria received 287 recommendations from 91 States. Key issues covered included detention, international instruments, and children’s rights. States encouraged Syria to ratify CPED, OP-CAT, OP2-ICCPR, end enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and torture, rehabilitate child soldiers and stop the use of minors in conflict and build an environment for safe return of refugees and IDPs.
Iceland received 230 recommendations from 89 delegations, most of which covering issues such as international instruments, women’s, children’s, and migrants’ rights. Several States recommended Iceland to implement measures tackling labour and sexual trafficking and slavery, effectively tackle gender-based violence, integrate migrant children into society, end disproportionate unemployment among minority groups and further strengthen educational opportunities for all groups.
Venezuela received 328 recommendations from 116 delegations during the interactive dialogue. Key issues addressed included freedom of expression and assembly, justice in the country, international instruments, and women’s rights. Countries recommended Venezuela release people detained for political reasons, end arbitrary arrest and detention, ensure that human rights defenders, civil society and journalists can carry out their work without risk of persecution, take steps leading to free and fair elections, ratify the OP-CAT and CPED, and adopt a national action plan on combating gender-based violence.
Zimbabwe received 264 recommendations from 95 delegations during the Working Group session. Key issues covered included international instruments, women’s rights, discrimination, and justice in the country. Zimbabwe received recommendations to ratify CAT, CPED, ICRMW, abolish death penalty and ratify OP2-ICCPR. Countries also recommended that the SuR increase investment on education, fight violence and discrimination against women, ensure the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and decriminalize same-sex relations. In addition, countries recommended Zimbabwe ensure the independence of the judiciary and combat human trafficking.
Lithuania received 232 recommendations from 82 delegations at the Working Group. Key issues covered were the rights of women, migrants, and vulnerable groups. Countries recommended Lithuania continue its efforts to protect the rights of asylum seekers and migrants, increase efforts to prevent and prosecute labour and sex trafficking, strengthen educational opportunities for national minorities and ratify ICRMW. Moreover, they called on the SuR to continue to adopt legal guarantees for the rights of LGBTQ+ people and ratify the Istanbul Convention.
Uganda received 273 recommendations from 97 delegations who took the floor at the Working Group. The main issues raised were freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, discrimination, and rights of women and children. Countries recommended Uganda to decriminalize same-sex relations and combat violence against LGBTQ+ people, reduce school dropouts and foster free education, especially for girls. Recommendations also included combatting trafficking of persons, investigating excessive use of force by police and finally, protecting the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
Timor-Leste received 194 recommendations put forward by 77 delegations during the interactive dialogue. Key issues covered during Timor-Leste’s Review were international instruments, the rights of vulnerable groups, especially persons with disabilities and education. Countries called on Timor-Leste to ratify OP1-ICCPR, OP-CAT, CRPD, CPED, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, strengthen the rights of women & girls in the face of violence, implement a national council for persons with disabilities and increase the percentage of its national budget dedicated to education.
Moldova received 209 recommendations from 72 delegations. Main issues included women’s rights, discrimination, and freedom of expression. Countries recommended Moldova to increase media pluralism and independence, protect journalists and prevent the harassment of media professionals, provide support to women victims of violence in line with the Istanbul Convention, eliminate the gender pay gap and support greater participation of women in public and political affairs. Moldova also received recommendations on providing equal access to education for children with disabilities, increase efforts for minority integration and ratify CPED.
South Sudan received 258 recommendations from 87 delegations. Key issues covered during the interactive dialogue included the rights of women and children, and the ratification of core human rights instruments. Recommending states encouraged South Sudan to take steps to end gender-based violence, end child and forced marriage and improve the legal framework for the protection of children, including ending the use of child soldiers. The SuR was called on to ratify ICCPR, OP2-ICCPR, ICESCR, CPED and the Maputo Protocol. Furthermore, countries recommended South Sudan abolish the death penalty.
Haiti received 221 recommendations from 82 delegations. The main issues raised on the floor of the Working Group were international instruments, women’s rights, detention and conditions of detainees. Countries recommended Haiti to ratify CAT, CPED, criminalize sexual violence and harassment, take stronger measures against gender-based violence and ratify CEDAW. Recommendations also raised the issue of long pre-trial detentions and countries urged Haiti to reduce them and improve the conditions of prisoners in detention centres.
Sudan was the last country to be reviewed in the 40th session of UPR. It received a total of 283 recommendations from 97 delegations. Key issues covered included the ratification of international human rights instruments, justice in the country, women’s rights and freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. In this regard, several delegations recommended Sudan to ratify the CEDAW and strengthen its efforts to end FGM, set up the minimum age of marriage at 18 and ensure participation of women in the social and political life. Countries recommended Sudan respect the freedom of expression and free all those imprisoned for exercising this right. Sudan was also encouraged to restore a civilian-led transition government and organize free and fair elections.
The UPR is a unique mechanism of the HRC aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground in each of the 193 UN Member States. The peer-review nature of the UPR continues to encourage global dialogue on human rights and has ensured that all countries, regardless of geographical, economic, or political influence, are accountable both nationally and internationally for their adherence to universal human rights standards.