Universal Periodic Review


First session meeting highlights

18 April 2008 (afternoon)
For use of information media; not an official record

The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group concluded its inaugural session this afternoon after having reviewed the fulfillment of human rights obligations in the first group of 16 States and adopting reports for each State review.

During the two-week session, which began on 7 April, interactive dialogues between the States under review and the Working Group, comprised of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council, and observers, were held during which a wide range of human rights issues were raised.

Delivering a message at the close of the meeting on behalf of the President of the Human Rights Council, DORU ROMULUS COSTEA (Romania), BOUDEWIJN VAN EENENNAAM (The Netherlands), one of the four Vice Presidents of the Council, noting the important work that had been achieved over the past two weeks, told the Working Group: “Having witnessed the energy which you have all displayed during this session, I have no doubt that we shall collectively rise to the occasion and achieve the primary goal of the UPR, which is the improvement of the human rights situation on the ground.”

The first group of States to have their human rights records reviewed under the new UPR mechanism during the session were: Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Finland, the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, the Philippines, Algeria, Poland, the Netherlands, South Africa, the Czech Republic and Argentina.

This afternoon, the Working Group also adopted, ad referendum, the reports on the Netherlands, South Africa, the Czech Republic and Argentina. All reports were prepared and presented by groups of three Council members, or troikas, who served as rapporteurs for each of the country reviews.

Adoption of report on the Netherlands: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report on the Netherlands are Peru, Pakistan and Nigeria. Introducing the report MASOUD KHAN (Pakistan) said the UPR of the Netherlands had been genuinely interactive and yielded a holistic picture. He noted that the Netherlands opted to follow a previously adopted formula in the Working Group whereby they will respond to the recommendations made and reflected in the report in due course. Their response will be made part of the outcome document, before its adoption at the 8th session of the Human Rights Council. Representing the State under review, ROBERT JAN SIEBEN, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands to the United Nations Office at Geneva, while noting that there were at least 31 recommendations listed in the report stated that his delegation would come back to the Council in response to these recommendations in time for the next regular session of the Council in June.

Adoption of report on South Africa: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report on South Africa are Zambia, Guatemala and Qatar. Introducing the report, CARLOS RAMIRO MARTINEZ ALVARADO (Guatemala), said the report and recommendations found in the report reflected well the discussion which took place on Tuesday, 15 April. The troika took note that the delegation of South Africa would express its views on the report and its recommendation in time for the June session of the Council. Representing the State under review, GLAUDINE J. MTSHALI, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the UPR session marked the beginning of a process of much desired reforms within the international human rights system; a process that would ensure universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States. The ultimate objective of the UPR was to identify ways in which the international community can work in partnership to improve the situation of human rights on the ground, and to ensure the practical enjoyment of all human rights by all. South Africa had been encouraged by this collaborative spirit which existed throughout this process. All recommendations reflected in the report will be examined by the Government of South Africa and its response will be included in the outcome report to be presented to the Council at the June session, she added.

Adoption of report on the Czech Republic: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report on the Czech Republic are France, South Africa and Nicaragua. Introducing the report, GLAUDINE J. MTSHALI (South Africa) noted that the State under review had opted to include its response to the report in the subsequent report to be adopted by the Human Rights Council at its June session on the outcome. Representing the State under review, TOMAS HSUAK, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the UPR experience provided valuable and useful information on how to improve the situation human rights in the Czech Republic. The statement made by delegations was clear proof of the seriousness how they viewed the exercise, he added.

Adoption of report on Argentina: The three Council members serving as the troika for the report on are Ukraine, Cuba and Cameroon. Introducing the report, JUAN ANTONIO FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba), expressed the satisfaction of the troika members for taking part in the exercise. The troika was of the firm belief that teamwork was crucial for the success for the UPR. Representing the State under review, ALBERTO J. DUMONT, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations Office at Geneva, reaffirmed Argentina’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and expressed the belief of his delegation that the UPR process would be enhanced in coming years.

The next session of the UPR Working Group will take place from 5 to 19 May during which the next group of 16 States will have their human rights obligations reviewed. The States to be reviewed during the next session are, in order of review: Gabon, Ghana, Peru, Guatemala, Benin, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Pakistan, Zambia, Japan, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, France, Tonga, Romania and Mali.

 Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the UPR webpage - http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx.

To access the webcast for the UPR session please visit http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/index.asp