UPR General debate focuses on the HRC Review

On March 18, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held a general debate under item 6 on the Universal Periodic Review. The most discussed topic by States and NGOs was the Outcome of the 2011 HRC Review which was issued in February. Japan, Mauritius and Poland submitted a mid-term report on the implementation of recommendations while Czech Republic, Malaysia and Portugal provided oral updates on the progress achieved.

The new periodicity of 4,5 years for the second cycle did not satisfy Hungary, on behalf of the European Union but was acceptable as a compromise.

The proposal for the list of speakers contained in the Outcome received support from Hungary, on behalf of the European Union, the United States, Ukraine and Republic of Moldova.

The United States emphasized the importance of the quality of recommendations for the value of the working group session and call on States to make recommendations that are focus, action-oriented, implementable, consistent with international human rights law and designed to improve the human rights situation in the SuR.

Hungary, on behalf of the European Union, Austria and Geneva for Human Rights (GHR), on behalf of 29 NGOs, stressed the importance for States to provide clear responses to all received recommendations.

The proposal in the Outcome encouraging States to submit mid-term updates was supported by Hungary, on behalf of the European Union, the United States and Austria.

On the issue of implementation plan, Hungary, on behalf of the European Union, linked the provision of technical assistance by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to an implementation plan and a timeline and Austria said that implementation plans would facilitate support by potential donors.

Hungary, on behalf of the European Union, together with the United States and Ukraine were pleased that National Human Rights Institutions with A status were given a dedicated part in the OHCHR summary and that they can intervene right after the State under Review at the plenary adoption.

On the follow-up, Ukraine, GHR and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) expressed their regret that the Outcome does not provide for a mechanism for the assessment of the implementation of recommendations.

Austria stated that a clear focus on implementation at the second cycle will be paramount to the success of the UPR. For the United States, new guidelines from the Review should not restrict the ability of participating States to continue to raise pertinent human rights issues at the second and subsequent cycles.

Cuba expressed its regrets that States did not agree to develop guidelines for the drafting of the OHCHR compilations and summaries.

GHR, ISHR and Amnesty International were disappointed about the Outcome of the Review. GHR explained that despite the significant amount of energy and resources invested in the Review, it did not introduce major improvements in any area, including the Universal Periodic Review. Indeed, no provision was made in the Outcome to ensure well-prepared, inclusive and meaningful national consultations, to introduce the UN compilation and stakeholders' summary during the UPR working group and to allow non-ECOSOC NGOs to participate in the adoption process.