From 13th to 15th March, the Human Rights Council (the Council) adopted the Working Group Reports of States reviewed during the 14th UPR session held in October 2012. Those countries included Argentina, Benin, Czech Republic, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Japan, Pakistan, Peru, the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Ukraine, and Zambia. All countries, except Benin, Gabon and Ghana, submitted an addendum containing their responses to recommendations. Despite its addendum, the delegation of Zambia was asked by the President of the Council to clarify which recommendations it had rejected, which it then did from the floor very thoroughly.
The recent absence of Israel to its own UPR was a recurrent issue at the general debate on the UPR held on 15 March. The Egyptian delegate was of the opinion that the letter sent by Israel to the HRC President on 1st March was not a sign of cooperation while Tunisia considered that this absence, following the decision to suspend cooperation in May 2004, was indeed a case of persistent non-cooperation. The issue of non-cooperation was also addressed in broader terms by several speakers. In a joint statement, UPR Info and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) firmly called on the Council to develop a robust mechanism to deal with persistent non-cooperation. We explained that participation in the UPR included many different steps such as submitting a national report; selecting its own troika; participating in the interactive dialogue; submitting an addendum; and presenting updates at mid-term on implementation and that failing to engage in three or more of those steps should be considered as a persistent case of non-cooperation. We also encouraged broadening the definition of non-cooperation to include cases of non implementation and non acceptance of recommendations.
During this general debate, a group of 89 States, led by Morocco, Brazil and the United Kingdom committed to submit a mid-term report during the second cycle of the UPR. This pledge was following the one made a year ago by 39 States committing to make a maximum of two recommendations to each SuR and to always give “high quality recommendations”. This year’s statement added the pledge to write and publish a mid-term report two years after the review with updates on progressed achieved on the implementation of recommendations. We are looking forward to seeing whether half of the planet will actually provide a mid-term report as they voluntary committed.
At UPR Info, we have now uploaded session 13 of UPR recommendations and pledges in the database. A total of 2126 recommendations were made by 119 States in this session. This figure is in line with the average number of recommendations received by States during session 12 (143). However, a worrying trend has emerged during session 13 in terms of the specificity of the action contained in recommendations. From session 12 to 13, the number of recommendations containing a specific action decreased by 7 points (37.2% to 30.9%) while recommendations asking the States under Review to continue their work increased by 7 points (14% to 21.1%).
From 25 to 28 March, we held our fourth round of “Pre-sessions” meetings between Permanent Missions and NGOs to prepare the upcoming UPR sessions. 12 pre-sessions were held on countries to be reviewed at session 16 (22 April – 1 May 2013), namely: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Germany, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, and Uzbekistan. Over 70 statements were delivered by NGOs coming, for 75% of them, from the country under review. 43 different Permanent Missions attended the Pre-session.
This new programme has now been running for a year, providing a platform to 213 NGOs, including 130 national NGOs, on 47 countries. A total of 75 different Missions have attended at least once, thus representing the participation of half of the Permanent Missions active in Geneva. In this regard, we are pleased to announce that we recently recruited a new Programme Manager, who will be notably in charge of those Pre-sessions.
Finally, our Follow-up Programme has now covered half of the countries of the world. We have been able to look into the implementation at mid-term of 98 countries, covering 5800 recommendations with comments by the four stakeholders: Government, national institution, civil society organisation and UN agencies. Recently published documents include Armenia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkey. Next countries to be assessed are Andorra, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Libya, Maldives, Malawi, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Panama, and the United States. In case you would like to provide us with updates on the implementation of recommendations concerning those countries, please do not hesitate to contact us.