- 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.
The Universal Periodic Review Working Group held its 16th session from 22 April to 3 May at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The following 14 States were reviewed: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Germany, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, and Uzbekistan.
A remarkable trend of the session was the high number of speakers. For the first time in the history of the UPR, two countries had more than 100 speakers. Cuba broke the record with 132 countries taking the floor, each having 51 seconds to make recommendations. As a consequence, Cuba received 293 recommendations (according to OHCHR’s calculation), the highest number of recommendations that a State under Review has ever received at the UPR. The previous record was held by the United States, with 280 recommendations in November 2010 (according to UPR Info’s calculation). It is worth noting that out of the 293 recommendations received by Cuba, 121 start with the verb "Continue", thus requiring minimal action to be undertaken by the Government. These recommendations represented 41% of the total received by Cuba. In comparison, between Sessions 1 to 13, the average of recommendations starting with the verb "continue" lies at 14%.
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 Universal Periodic Review Working Group held its 15th session from 21 January to 1 February at the Palais des Nations. The following 13 States were reviewed: Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Burundi, France, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mali, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Tonga and the United Arab Emirates. Scheduled on Tuesday 29 January, Israel was not present for its own review. It is the first time in the history of the UPR process that a country fails to appear before the Working Group, thus creating a dangerous precedent for the mechanism, and for the respect for human rights worldwide.
Israel had suspended its relations with the Human Rights Council (HRC) in a letter published on 14 May 2012. As a consequence, it did not submit a national report due in October 2012, was not present for the selection of its troika on 14 January 2013 and it was therefore expected that it would not participate in its own UPR.