Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF


Wednesday, 30 April 2014 (Afternoon)

(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

Represented by 15 member, delegation headed by Mr. Lyonpo Damcho DORJI, Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan.


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

Troika *

Maldives, Peru and South Africa.

Opening statement by State under review

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

  • During the last UPR of Bhutan four and a half years ago, the Government accepted 75 recommendations out of 99 posed; these have either been implemented or were being addressed;
  • The Constitution of Bhutan guaranteed and protected the human rights of every citizen and provided speedy and effective remedies if those rights were violated; the Constitution also obligated the States to create a civil society;
  • Among the numerous Acts enacted by the Parliament since December 2009, the most notable ones were the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, the Child Adoption Act, the Child Care and Protection Act and the Anti-Corruption Act;
  • Bhutan’s democratic process was further consolidated with the holding of local government elections in 2011 and the second parliamentary elections in 2013;
  • Civil society organisations in Bhutan were growing in strength and played an increasingly important role in society.  Most CSOs worked to help economically marginalized, vulnerable groups and have also been active in some areas of policy formulation;
  • Bhutan has also achieved significant progress in the field of social, economic and cultural rights and the right to development and has fulfilled most of the Millennium Development Goals;
  • Among other things, the economy has grown at a sustainable rate of 7 to 8 per cent per year for the last several years, poverty has been reduced, primary school enrolment rates have reached 98.5 per cent in 2012;
  • As regards women’s rights, in addition to the aforementioned Domestic Violence Prevention Act, mainstreaming gender in development plans and policies has become an integral part of the Government’s development process and gender parity in school has been achieved up to the higher secondary level;
  • During the review period, and extensive advocacy campaign as well as training and consultation was conducted to encourage greater participation of women in the political process;
  • On the rights of children, the Child Care and Protection Act was enacted in May 2011 and the Child Adoption Act in January 2012 which led to the development of the National Plan of Action (NPAC) for Child Protection. The head of delegation remarked that the Special Rapporteur on the right to education will visit Bhutan next month;
  • Despite progress achieved, Bhutan was faced with numerous challenges including with regard to high poverty rates, high rate of youth unemployment, rapid urbanization, vulnerability to climate change, and acts of terrorism by groups or individuals opposed to the policies of the Government.
  • The head of delegation also highlighted Bhutan’s initiative to table the UNGA resolution entitled “Happiness: Towards a Holistic Approach to Development” adopted in 2011.


In total 88 States participated in the dialogue:  35 HRC members and 53 observers  (Statements available on Bhutan page on the UPR Extranet **).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The Prevention of the Domestic Violence Bill and the Child Care and Protection Act;
  • Cooperation between the Government and civil society organisations;
  • The successful conclusion of the Parliamentary elections in 2013;
  • Advancements made in the health and education sector;  
  • The signing of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • Efforts to end violence against women.

Issues and Questions

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

  • Efforts to find a lasting solution for the situation on Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal refugee camps;
  • Steps taken to reduce poverty throughout the country;
  • Measures taken to improve the education system and to ensure education for all children; 
  • The State’s experience in combatting domestic violence and protecting children;
  • The progress achieved by Bhutan in the Gross National Happiness Index;
  • The State’s position on acceding to international human rights treaties and cooperation with UN Special Procedures.


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

  • To intensify efforts with Nepal to find a lasting solution for the situation on Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal refugee camps;
  • To continue efforts to reduce poverty;
  • To continue to improve the education system and to make primary education compulsory and free for all children, including children from ethnic minorities and those with special needs;
  • To address the decline of female school enrolment rates; To strengthen efforts to eliminate illiteracy;
  • To adopt a comprehensive approach to include providing a healthy environment, safe water and sanitation and proper childcare; To continue to fight against the negative impacts of climate change;
  • To continue promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities;
  • To continue to give priority attention to the protection of women and children from domestic violence;
  • To increase efforts to prevent unacceptable forms of child labour;
  • To continue to encourage greater participation of women in politics;
  • To accept invitations from UN Special Procedures to visit the country, in particular the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief;
  • To issue a standing in vitiation to UN Special Procedures;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the ICCPR, the ICESCR, the OP to the ICESCR, the CAT, the CRPD, the Rome Statute of the ICC, the OP of CEDAW, the CERD, the three OPs to the CRC, the Convention on enforced disappearances, the Convention on the rights of migrant workers, the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. 

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Bhutan is scheduled to take place on Friday, 2 May 2014.

*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

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