Conclusion of the 38th Session of the UPR Working Group
The 38th session of the Universal Period Review (UPR) Working Group took place from 3-14 May, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. During the Working Group, the human rights situation in the following countries was discussed in an interactive dialogue: Namibia, Namibia, Niger, Mozambique, Estonia, Paraguay, Belgium, Denmark, Somalia, Palau, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Latvia, Sierra Leone and Singapore.
The session saw a total of 3515 recommendations put forward by Recommending States. Frequently occurring topics included women’s rights, children’s rights, discrimination, and international instruments. Among the fourteen States under Review (SuR), Singapore, Belgium, and Denmark received the highest number of recommendations. On average, States received recommendations from 95 delegations during the interactive dialogue. Moreover, States regularly posed recommendations mirroring those suggested by civil society organizations at UPR Info’s preceding Pre-sessions that took place in March 2021. The final report for each SuR will be adopted at the 48th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in September 2021.
Namibia was the first country to be reviewed receiving 283 recommendations. During the interactive dialogue, 106 states took the floor to address some key issues, amongst them the top three raised issues were women’s rights, children’s rights and international instruments. In this regard, different States recommended Namibia to ratify the ICPPED and the OPCAT, to take concrete action to tackle gender-based violence, to prohibit corporal punishment on children and to decriminalize same-sex intercourse while protecting LBTQ people.
Niger received 254 recommendaitons from 95 States. key issues covered included international instruments, human trafficking, the abolition of the death penalty, as well as women and children. Several States encouraged Niger to take measures to ensure gender equality and to eradicate all harmful and discriminatory practices against women and girls, such as child and early forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and sexual violence.
Mozambique received 266 recommendations from 106 delegations, most of which covering issues such as international instruments, women’s rights and children’s rights. Several States recommended Mozambique to implement its law on freedom of expression, to adopt measures to ensure gender equality and eradicate gender discrimination, to reduce early school dropout by ensuring access to education for all, to guarantee the rights of persons with disability and their participation in the society.
Estonia received 274 recommendations from 95 delegations during the interactive dialogue. Key issues addressed included international instruments, women’s rights, discrimination and hate crimes, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. In particular, several countries recommended intensifying efforts to eradicate domestic violence and gender-based violence, and to promote gender equality, including by taking measures to reduce the gender pay gap.
Paraguay received 210 recommendations from 79 delegations during the Working Group session. Key issues covered included international instruments, women’s rights, discrimination, national human rights institutions and international instruments. Several countries recommended that Paraguay take further steps to combat all forms of violence and discrimination against women, as well as to increase women’s participation in public and private life. Furthermore, several recommendations also addressed issues such as human trafficking, protection of journalists, and conditions of detention.
Belgium received 308 recommendations from 119 delegations at the Working Group. Belgium expressed support for 218 recommendations and noted 21, while 69 were left pending. Key issues covered included discrimination, NHRIs, children’s rights and international instruments. During the Review, several States recommended Belgium to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, to ratify the OPCAT and to establish an independent NHRI.
Denmark received a high number of recommendations compared to other SuR at the Working Group, most of which covered issues related to discrimination, migrants, women and children, and international instruments. In total, 288 recommendations were presented to the SuR by 112 delegations. Several States recommended that Denmark develop a national action plan to combat discrimination on any grounds, including racism, hate speech and hate crimes motivated by ethnic or religious considerations.
Somalia received 273 recommendations put forward by 101 delegations during the interactive dialogue. Key issues covered during Somalia’s Review were the ratification of core international human rights instruments, women’s rights and the protection of journalists and freedom of expression. In this regard, several delegations recommended Somalia to comply its national law regarding freedom of expression and media, as well as the protection of journalists, with international standards, to establish a NHRI, and to tackle gender and sexual-based violence by implementing Somalia’s national law.
Palau received 142 recommendations from 52 delegations. Palau expressed support for 67 recommendations and noted 75 recommendations. Key issues covered included the ratification of core human rights instruments, the eradication of all forms of discrimination against women and other groups, national human rights institutions, and climate change. Several delgations recommended thta Palau further increase women's participation in public and political life and continue efforts to combat violence against women and children.
Seychelles received 215 recommendations from 83 delegations. 113 recommendations were supported by the SuR, while 102 have been left pending. Key issues covered during the interactive dialogue included women and children, and the ratification of core human rights instruments. and human trafficking. The need for enhanced measures to prevent, combat, and punish human trafficking was also raised by several Recommending States, as well as the need to increase resources to and support the independence of the National Human Rights Commission.
Solomon Islands received 160 recommendations from 59 delegations. Key issues raised during the Review included the ratification of core international human rights instruments, children’s rights, discrimination and the environment. In this regard, several delegations recommended Solomon Islands to criminalize the abuse and exploitation of children by banning practices such as child marriage and child prostitution. Furthermore, many States recommended Somalia to raise awareness about climate change and climate disaster, as well as to establish an independent NHRI.
Latvia received 244 recommendations from 87 delegations during the Working Group session. Key issues covered included the ratification of international human rights instruments, women’s rights, discrimination and the protection of minorities. In this regard, several delegations recommended Latvia to take legal and policy measures to combat all forms of discrimination in accordance with ICERD. Further efforts to promote gender equality and the ratification of the CEDAW Optional Protocol were also at the heart of several recommendations offered to Latvia.
Sierra Leone received 274 recommendations put forward by 102 States. Key issues covered included women’s rights, children’s rights, education and death penalty. In this regard, several countries recommended taking concrete steps towards the complete abolition of the death penalty, eradicating female genital mutilations, and banning child marriage. Further efforts to tackle gender-based violence and to guarantee health care services for all were the focal point of many recommendations addressed to Sierra Leone.
Singapore received a high number of recommendations on international instruments, the abolition of death penalty, and women’s and children’s rights. Several States also formulated recommendations on migrant workers, encouraging Singapore to take measures to guarantee the same level of protection and benefits as other workers. Furthermore, several countries recommended Singapore to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In total, 324 recommendations were presented to the SuR by 140 delegations.
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.