Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF


Monday, 21 October 2013 (Morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Saudi Arabia
Represented by 22-member delegation headed by Mr. Bandar bin Mohammad AL AIBAN, President of the Human Rights Commission of Saudi Arabia.


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

Troika *

Japan, Romania and Uganda.

Opening statement by State under review **

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

  • During its 2006-2012 term of membership at the Human Rights Council, the Kingdom had been given the opportunity to adopt numerous national measures that had contributed to the promotion and protection of human rights;
  • The Kingdom had donated US$ 500 million to the World Food Programme to help Least Developed Countries to meet the increased costs of basic food commodities;
  • Saudi Arabia has played a vital role in ensuring stability in the global petroleum markets in its capacity as a reliable source of energy, thereby contributing to international peace and stability;
  • The secured independence of the judicial authority was a firmly established principle and cornerstone for the protection and promotion of human rights in the country;
  • Since the completion of its first UPR, the Kingdom has acceded to several human rights instruments, and regional instruments and conventions, such as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflicts;
  • Saudi Arabia had also acceded to the Labour Convention 138 on the minimum age of admission for employment;
  • In Saudi Arabia women were full citizens in their own right and were endowed with independent financial and full legal capacity. Saudi women were contributing to national decision making though their membership of the Consultative council in which they were allocated a minimum of 20 per cent seats. The number of female employees in the governmental sector had also risen by 8 % this year alone;
  • The National Commission for Childhood had recently completed the formulation of a national strategy for children designed to safeguard all aspects of the rights of the child;
  • The Ministry of Social Affairs has established shelters for children, women and the elderly with special needs to ensure they were not harmed again;
  • Numerous ministerial decisions had been promulgated to improve the safeguarding of workers’ rights. Employers in the private sector had an obligation to provide their workers with health insurance;
  • In the field of education, the Kingdom had established an independent commission to evaluate general education with a view to improving its quality;
  • With regard to the provision of suitable housing, the Kingdom had established a Ministry of Housing and had approved the construction of 500,000 housing units.


In total 104States participated in the dialogue: 37 HRC members and 67 observers (Statements available on Saudi Arabia page on the UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The participation of women in the Shura Council;
  • Accession to international human rights conventions, including the first and second OPs to the CRC;
  • Steps in advancing the protection of children and the enactment of the Child Protection Act;
  • Steps taken to combat corruption and the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission
  • The increase in school enrolment rates, in particular for girls and the adoption of a national plan for human rights education;
  • Efforts undertaken to combat human trafficking.

Issues and Questions

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

  • Efforts to end all forms of discrimination against women and ensure their equal participation in society;
  • Steps taken to abolish capital punishment and/or establish a moratorium on the death penalty;
  • Measures in place to support the work of civil society organisations;
  • Steps taken to protect freedoms of association, expression, peaceful assembly and religion;
  • Measures to address issues of discrimination and exploitation against migrant workers;
  • Plans to extend a standing invitation to the Special Procedures.


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

  • To put an end to all forms of discrimination against women in legislation and in practice and to allow women to participate fully and equally in society;
  • To increase national awareness campaigns on equality between men and women and women’s rights in general; To abolish the male guardianship system; to lift reservations to the CEDAW;
  • To take all necessary measures to combat domestic violence and ensure victims had access to mechanisms of protection and redress;
  • To enact a law prohibiting all child, early and forced marriages, and establish the minimum legal age of marriage at 18 years;
  • Adopt laws to protect freedoms of association, expression, peaceful assembly and religion;
  • To take additional measures to address issues of discrimination and exploitation against migrant workers; To protect all workers from abuse by prosecuting perpetrators of labour abuses, adopting laws to protect victims, and better apprising foreign workers of their legal rights and remedies;
  • To impose a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its eventual abolition;
  • To ensure that capital punishment was not imposed for offences committed by persons under 18 years of age; to totally abolish corporal punishment;
  • To allow for the registration of NGOs active in the area of human rights and to foster an environment to allow civil society to work unhindered and adopt a law which should take into account the views of civil society;
  • To ensure all domestic legislation was in line with international standards;
  • To extend a standing invitation to the Special Procedures and respond positively to those who have requested to visit the country;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the Rome Statute of the ICC, the ICCPR, the ICESCR, the OCAT, the OP to CEDAW, the third OP to the CRC, and the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Saudi Arabia is scheduled to take place on Friday, 25 October 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.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

Media contacts: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org
Cédric Sapey, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9695, csapey@ohchr.org