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16th HRC: Review of the Human Rights Council’s Work and Functioning

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16th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Joint Oral Statement by Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Baha’i International Community, Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Genero (Corporación Humanas), Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Geneva for Human Rights, and International Save the Children Alliance

on the Review of the Human Rights Council’s Work and Functioning (Item 6: Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – General Debate)

Friday, 18 March 2011

Thank you, Mr President. On 24 February, the Human Rights Council completed the Review of its Work and Functioning and we welcome your efforts to lead this process. All stakeholders invested a significant amount of energy and resources towards a review that suggested promising results and created high expectations from civil society around the world. Unfortunately, closer to its end, the process was diluted to a mere “fine-tuning” exercise as opposed to a thorough review. The Outcome Document did not introduce major improvements in any area, including the UPR. Many proposals made by various stakeholders that were specifically aimed at strengthening the UPR were dropped over the course of the Review.

Mr. President, 37 NGOs from Geneva and around the world came together last October to put forward proposals to improve the UPR process. This Joint NGO Contribution was submitted to the first session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group in October 2010 and contained seven key issues upon which actions needed to be taken to strengthen the UPR. Although some proposals contained in this NGO Contribution were supported, others were disregarded. Hence, no guarantee was developed in the Outcome to ensure well-prepared, inclusive and meaningful national consultations. UN Compilation and Stakeholders’ Summary will not be introduced during the UPR Working Group, and will consequently not be given the same importance as the National Report. Moreover, the Outcome fails in requiring recommendations to be specific and action-oriented in order to guarantee a meaningful implementation. In regards to the follow-up, although the Outcome makes provisions for consultations with stakeholders, it does not contain any mechanism or modality to assess such a follow-up. Finally, non-ECOSOC NGOs will continue to be excluded from the adoption process despite their full participation in submitting information.

Mr. President, we believe that the UPR process has a much greater potential than reflected in the present Outcome Document of the Review. It is now the role of the Human Rights Council and States to make best use of the Outcome and improve the mechanism by doing. We therefore call on all States and the Council to continue, through the second cycle, working on strengthening the UPR in order to ensure transparent and meaningful national consultations, improved opportunities for civil society and thorough assessments of implementation of UPR recommendations. Thank you, Mr. President.


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16th Session of the UN Human Rights Council: FORUM-ASIA interventions, statements and events