Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF


Monday, 21 January 2013 (Morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record.  The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed.  An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

Represented by 19-member delegation headed by François Zimeray, Ambassador-at-large for Human Rights of France.


To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the France page on the UPR website).

Troika *

Congo, Kuwait, Italy.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
 (See full statement on the France page on UPR Extranet )

  • One of the main developments in the sphere of human rights in France since its first UPR in 2008 was that of the Constitutional review which resulted in the strengthening of a person’s rights;
  • In March 2011 the office of the public defender – ombudsperson – was established which thus provided a person living in France recourse if they believed their rights have been trampled on and thus more options to denounce human rights violations and cases of discrimination;
  • Harassment was now included as a form of discrimination and each prosecutor’s office of the Supreme Court also had an anti-discrimination unit; a national action plan against racism was also enacted in accordance with its international obligations;
  • A major reform occurred in 2011 ensuring that those brought into custody had immediate access to a lawyer; human rights training was also enhanced for all law enforcement officials and members of the armed forces;
  • In 2012, the Ministry of the Women’s Rights was established which aimed to promote the rights of women and address any cases of discrimination against women; moreover, in January 2013 the High Council for Equal Rights of Men and Women was established;
  • France has also developed as strategy for the inclusion of the Roma into society which endeavoured to uphold the rights of the Roma living in camps;
  • A series of measures are also in place to improve prison conditions including the modernization of prison facilities;
  • An inter-ministerial working group has also been established recently to address the situation of unaccompanied minors; Major efforts have been launched to mainstream equality education at the primary school level;
  • The head of delegation noted that France signed in December 2012 the Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights;
  • Responding to questions posed by State during the review, the French delegation affirmed that Roma children were afforded equal access to education and recalled the administrative law introduced calling for emergency housing to be identified before any eviction of Roma from an unauthorised Roma camp;
  • In terms of alleged racial profiling, policemen must be identifiable and a new ethics code was being drafted aimed for the gendarmerie and armed forces which would take form of a decree when enacted later this year;
  • There were some 8,000 unaccompanied minors living in France, all of whom had access to education and health care and legal protection; the Government was committed to implementing an immigration policy focusing on upholding the rights of all immigrants. 


In total 85 States participated in the dialogue:  33 HRC members and 52 observers  (Statements available on the France page on UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The high number of women in Government posts and efforts to enhance gender equality in the work force; 
  • The establishment of the Ministry of Women’s Rights;
  • The ratification of numerous human rights instruments;
  • The creation of the independent ombudsperson’s office;
  • The creation of the National Action Plan against Racism and Anti-Racism and the enactment of anti-discrimination legislation;
  • Steps to modernise the prison system and to ensure legal protection for detainees.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Steps to address instances of human trafficking;
  • Measures to address cases of racial discrimination and profiling;
  • Efforts to address the situation of persons in custody and to improve prison conditions;
  • Steps to address allegations of abuse by law enforcement and armed forces;
  • Addressing the rights of minorities, including the Roma;
  • The law on the banning of wearing religious symbols.


States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to France.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To adopt a national plan to combat human trafficking;
  • To enhance efforts to address cases of child pornography and child prostitution and to prohibit corporal punishment;
  • To boost efforts to ensure equal pay for men and women and take steps to lower female unemployment rates;
  • To continue efforts to combat all forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia and ethnic profiling;
  • To step up efforts to combat extremist, racism, hate speech and xenophobic acts and their manifestations;
  • To ensure the realization of all human rights of minorities;
  • To ensure that policies and practices regarding the dismantling of Roma settlements and the expulsion of migrant Roma conformed to European and international human rights law;
  • To consider revising the law prohibiting people from wearing religious symbols in public schools and to undertake a comprehensive study on the repercussion of the ban on facial coverings in public spaces for immigrant women;
  • To fully ensure the rights of and conditions for detained persons;
  • To ensure that French prisons be brought up to international standards and to introduce and publish a national action plan to improve conditions and address over-crowding in prisons;
  • Take measures to ensure that reports of ill-treatment by, law enforcement and armed forces were thoroughly investigated as a matter of urgency;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: Convention of the Rights of Migrant Workers; ILO Convention 189 (domestic workers) and 169 (indigenous rights); the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child (communications); and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on France is scheduled to take place on Friday, 25 January 2013.

The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org