HRC begins the second session of the Working Group on its review

On February 7, the Human Rights Council (HRC) began the second session of the Open-ended Working Group on the HRC review. This second session will be divided into three mini sessions which will be held on February 7, 17-18, and 23-24.

On Monday the 7th, HRC President H.E. Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow invited delegations to react to the Compilation of contributions presented on February 3 during an organisational meeting. Many States and other stakeholders took the floor to state their position.

Below is a summary of reactions of delegates to the paper on the UPR contained in the Compilation. Those discussions were similar to the ones held on January 21 during the last informal consultation on the UPR. Delegates re-stated their positions on each proposal instead of giving new proposals aimed at reaching a compromise.

In general, Cuba, Turkey, Guatemala and Chile supported the paper.

Periodicity of the subsequent cycles

Egypt, on behalf of the Non-aligned Movement (NAM), suggested maintaining a full-year cycle in order to avoid costs. Indonesia, on behalf of the ASEAN, and the Philippines expressed their flexibility on the issue of periodicity The latter also supported the extension of the cycle to five years. Thailand declared its preference for a cycle of at least 4.5 years. Algeria was in favor of a five-year cycle. Guatemala and CIVICUS supported the current proposal of 4,5 years.

Hungary, on behalf of the European Union (EU), was of the opinion that extending the length of the cycle would weaken the process. France also opposed the extension. Turkey declared its preference for a four-year cycle. The United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea expressed that there was no need to extend the cycle. Switzerland would not support the extension of the length of the cycle unless other progresses were made in the review.

Gap between the first and second cycle

Austria and the Republic of Korea, preferred to have no gap between the two cycles. On the contrary, the Russian Federation believed that a gap between the UPR cycles would allow for the development of new guidelines for the drafting of the three documents which would serve as the basis of each review and help countries to prepare for the review.

Focus of the second cycle

According to Nigeria, on behalf of the African Group, Pakistan, on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and Myanmar, the focus of the second cycle should only be solely on the accepted recommendations and should not include the rejected ones. Guatemala specified that the focus should also be on the assistance received.

Hungary, on behalf of the EU, and Denmark were opposing the inclusion of the assessment of the technical assistance received. Austria was of the view that the second cycle should be on the actual situation of human rights in the country as well as on all accepted recommendations. France suggested that the second cycle should also address the rejected and noted recommendations. Finally, Canada suggested the second cycle must also focus on new recommendations made during this second cycle.

UPR plenary adoptions

Nigeria, on behalf of the African Group, Egypt, on behalf of the NAM, Pakistan, on behalf of the OIC, Algeria and the Philippines asserted that that if the UPR adoptions in plenary sessions were to be held immediately after the UPR working group sessions, they should not be used for purposes other than the UPR, such as reacting to urgent situations.

On the contrary, Hungary, on behalf of the EU, Japan, Ireland and Canada said that those adoptions could also be used to address human rights situations in countries.

Responses to recommendations

According to the Republic of Korea, the State under Review (SuR) should clearly express its position on all received recommendations. The Netherlands stressed the importance for clear responses and clear positions of acceptance or rejection. Canada voiced the idea that very recommendation that is not rejected formally should be considered as accepted. Australia suggested adopting a standard format for the responses.

Addendum

Hungary, on behalf of the EU, France, Norway and CIVICUS believed that States under Review should provide their views in writing on all recommendations submitted in advance . France also believed, together with the United Kingdom, that the wording of the proposal "encouraging" States could be stronger.

Implementation plan for recommendations

Nigeria, on behalf of the African Group, declared it was not "subscribing" to idea of an implementation plan. Moldova and the Russian Federation also expressed their reluctance to producing a voluntary plan. Egypt, on behalf of the NAM, said that the plan should not be compulsory and Pakistan, on behalf of the OIC feared that it would add a burden on States. Indonesia, on behalf of the ASEAN, expressed its belief that the implementation plan should remain strictly voluntary in nature and not formalised in the agenda.

On the other hand, Turkey and the Republic of Korea considered the implementation plan very important. The inclusion of the proposal about an implementation plan in the paper was also welcomed by Austria. Japan stated that even if voluntary, the implementation plan should be the basis for receiving technical assistance. Finally, Honduras added its support to the proposal encouraging States to submit a plan.

Mid-term reports

According to Egypt, on behalf of the NAM, States have no obligation to submit a mid-term report and Indonesia, on behalf of the ASEAN, Thailand and Guatemala expressed that the mid-term report should remain voluntary. The Republic of Moldova and the Russian Federation did not support the proposal to encourage States to submit mid-term reports.

On the contrary, this proposal was welcomed by Austria and supported by Honduras.

Funds for participation and for financial and technical assistance

A strong appeal was made by Nigeria, on behalf of the African Group, Pakistan, on behalf of the OIC, Indonesia, on behalf of the ASEAN, Turkey, Brazil, Peru and South Africa to strengthen the two funds for participation and for the follow-up. The organisation CIVICUS asked for the participiation fund to also provide support for NGOs.

National human rights institutions

Algeria wanted non-A Status accredited NHRIs to be able to participate fully in the UPR while the United Kingdom, Peru, Brazil and Norway wanted to have the role of A-status NHRIs strengthened. Australia suggested that A-status NGOs should be able to speak immediately after the SuR at the plenary adoption of the Report of the Working Group.

The International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs reminded the council of its support for a dedicated section to NHRIs in the OHCHR summary of stakeholder information if the length of this summary were extended. The Asia Pacific Forum supported the proposal to dedicate a section of the summary to NHRIs.

Other issues

Cuba specified that the HRC does not hold the mandate to follow-up on the implementation of recommendations.

Austria and Brazil welcomed the extension in time of the interactive dialogue.

The United States suggested that OHCHR prepare a report for each country on the implementation status of its recommendations for the second cycle .

Denmark was opposed to the idea of the OHCHR acting as a clearing house in with respect to the follow-up.

CIVICUS presented for the second time its proposal to introduce the OHCHR compilation of UN information and summary of stakeholders' information at the stage of the working group.