The last session of this first cycle was held on 3-14 October reviewing the following seventeen countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Haiti, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Republic of Moldova, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Togo, Uganda, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. This session witnessed the participation of numerous coalitions of grassroot NGOs, including from Ireland, Moldova, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. This vibrant engagement of national civil society organisations through joint submissions and lobbying activities at home and in Geneva is already seen as one of the main successes of the first cycle.
Other highlights of this twelfth session included Syria’s consideration that many recommendations received on issues of detention conditions, freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of association and peaceful assembly were already implemented. This assumption was contested during the Working Group Report adoption by the States which made the recommendations. The United States also criticized Syria for rejecting recommendations on the basis of the State which had made them. Finally, for the first time, a country, Tajikistan, rejected a recommendation because it was dealing with an individual case.
With regards to the follow-up, an online questionnaire has been prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to seek the views of States and relevant stakeholders on the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance and how it should support the implementation of recommendations. Responses need to be submitted by November 4th.
Concerning NGO submissions, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights just released an update of the technical guidelines for relevant stakeholders’ written submissions. These guidelines, which describe the content, format and modalities for national human rights institutions and civil society organisations’ submissions to the UPR, contain two main changes:
- the scope of the submissions: stakeholders are encouraged to provide information on the human rights situation in the State under review, including information on the follow-up to the preceding review and on developments since the last review;
- the length of the submissions: these should not extend 2815 words for individual submissions (instead of 5 pages) and 5630 words for joint submissions (instead of 10 pages).
At UPR Info, we organized on Thursday 13th October an event to celebrate the end of the first cycle of the UPR in the Human Rights Council’s room of the Palais des Nations. This celebration, co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland, Morocco and the United Kingdom, aimed at highlighting the achievements in human rights obtained during the first cycle, as well as the challenges and opportunities the second cycle would present. More than 250 people attended the event and such impressive presence demonstrated the interest of States and civil society actors in the UPR process.
Many ideas were shared by the speakers on how to ensure a successful second cycle, including:
- To take into consideration all recommendations during the follow-up, even the rejected ones.
- To make less recommendations but more precise (effective recommendations are precise, practical, constructive, forward looking, implementable and time-bound);
- To create of a comprehensive system to track implementation of recommendations, with appropriate indicators;
- To ensure that States report on the status of implementation of the recommendations and explain why if some of them have still not been addressed.
- To cooperate with Treaty bodies to implement common recommendations;
- To ensure that treaty bodies consider rejected UPR recommendations during their constructive dialogue with States;
- To hold consultations with civil society before the draft of the national report;
- To include stakeholders consultations outcomes in the national report.