From March 18 to 20, the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted the sixteen reports of the third session of the working group of last December and held a general debate.
The reports of the working group on Botswana, Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates, Liechtenstein, Serbia, Turkmenistan, Burkina Faso, Cape-Verde, Colombia, Uzbekistan and Tuvalu were adopted without any trouble. The adoption of the report on Israel however brought an intensive debate. Egypt, supported by Palestine and Yemen, raised a point of order to ask Israel to provide a clear response to all their recommendations. In reaction, the United States and Australia criticized the singling out of one State, namely Israel, when other previous States under Review had not given clear responses either. The report was finally adopted without Israel providing more responses.
On the overall, most States gave clear responses to recommendations. Ten States, Botswana, Bahamas, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, Liechtenstein, Serbia, Turkmenistan, Colombia and Uzbekistan submitted an addendum to the report of the working group. Botswana set a good example by providing a table in its addendum with detailed answers. Other States on the contrary, such as Luxembourg and Burundi, left many recommendations with no clear position, thus making the follow-up very difficult.
Those sixteen adoptions were followed on Friday 20th by a two-hour general debate under item 6 of the agenda. Many States underlined the high number of participation during the fourth session last February. Czech Republic, on behalf of the European Union, France and Poland asked for all States to be able to participate and have their statement included in the report of the working group. The Republic of Korea suggested dividing the 120 minutes allocated in the interactive dialogue to States between the number of States willing to speak. Japan and Chile insisted that members of the HRC should be able to take the floor and somehow given a priority. On the contrary, Turkey, Bhutan and Algeria claimed that members and non members of the HRC should be treated on the same level. Certain States such as Egypt, on behalf of the African group, Nigeria, Kuwait and Bhutan reiterated their attachment to resolution 5/1 and the need not to go outside its scope. Portugal recalled the rules of procedures, according to which States inscribed on the list of speaker could not be prevented to take the floor and that in order not to extend the length of the review, their statement should at least be taken into account in the report. Egypt, on behalf of the African group, stated that calls for "mid-term reports" on the follow-up by States under Review were "unfounded if not illegal". Finally, on a more positive note, Czech Republic clarified its position on the recommendations were made to them during the first UPR session and said that they were all accepted but one.
NGOs called for more precise and timely responses to recommendations and criticized the congratulations and behaviour of certain States during the fourth review.