The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group (WG) held its 18th session from the 27th ofJanuary to the 7th February 2014 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. Afghanistan, Cambodia, Chile, Comoros, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, New Zealand, Slovakia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYR Macedonia), Uruguay, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, and Yemen were examined. The peak of participation from recommending States was reached during the review of Viet Nam when 106 States took the floor to make recommendations, leaving 1 minute and 5 seconds for each statement. Several points of order were made during the review of Cyprus on territorial issues. Fortunately, this did not hamper the adoption of its report by the WG. The 14 UPR reports for this 18th session will be adopted during the 26th Human Rights Council (HRC) Session in June 2014.
- The UPR Working Group concluded its 17th session on November 1st after the review of the human rights performance of Belize, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Israel, Jordan, Malta, Malaysia, Mauritius, Monaco, Mexico, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Saudi Arabia, and Senegal. The session was marked by some important developments including the return of Israel to the UPR after its boycott in January 2013, and the continuous practice of attempting to negotiate recommendations in the Working Group draft reports.
- From 18 to 20 September 2013, the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted the Working Group Reports of States reviewed during the 16th session of the UPR (April/May 2013), notably: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Germany, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, and Uzbekistan. All the above-mentioned States, except for Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, and Djibouti, had submitted an addendum containing their responses to the recommendations received.
- On Monday the 9th of September, the 24th session of the Human Rights Council. From the 18th to the 20th, the Human Rights Council will adopt the Working Group Reports of States reviewed during the 16th UPR session (April-May 2013): Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Germany, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, and Uzbekistan. A two-hour general debate on the UPR process will then follow. Prior to the adoption session, the States under Review are expected to publish in writing their responses to the recommendations received during their review. So far, only Bangladesh, Colombia, Federation of Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have submitted their recommendation responses.
On 6 and 7 June, the Human Rights Council (the Council) adopted the UPR reports of States reviewed during the 15th Working Group session held in January 2013. Those countries included Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Burundi, France, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mali, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Tonga and the United Arab Emirates. All countries, except for Burundi, had submitted an addendum containing their responses to the recommendations received. Following Israel’s absence to its review last January, the President of the Council presented a report on decision A/HRC/OM/7/1 of 29 January 2013. He briefed delegates on the measures taken, as President, to encourage Israel to resume its engagement with the UPR. He noted that, after a few exchanges of correspondence with the Permanent Representative of Israel, the latter reaffirmed his intention to continue dialogue with the Council and its mechanisms. With this positive response from Israel, the State’s review has been postponed to Tuesday 29 October 2013 during the 17th session of the UPR Working Group. Canada, in reaction to the report, saw the step taken by Israel as demonstrating its readiness to re-engage with the UPR process. Egypt, on the other hand, considered Israel’s assurances, through written correspondence, as non-cooperation, while Tunisia urged the Council not to renegotiate with Israel as the credibility of the UPR was at stake.Palestine, and Pakistan speaking on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), deemed Israel’s actions as “persistent non-cooperation and non-compliance with the UPR process”. UPR Info seized the occasion of the presentation of the report to take the floor and reiterate its call, made last March to the HRC, to define the concept of “persistent non-cooperation”. Participation at one’s review includes also the submission of a national report, selection of one’s own troika, participation in the interactive dialogue, submission of an addendum and presentation of mid-term updates on implementation of recommendations. Failure to perform three or more of these steps should then be considered ‘persistent non-cooperation’. Non-cooperation, we also noted, includes not only the non-participation of states in the review but also non-implementation or non-acceptance of a certain number of recommendations and giving unjustified reasons for the rejection of particular recommendations.