42nd UPR Working Group: Key Highlights
The 42nd session of the Universal Period Review (UPR) Working Group took place from the 23rd of January to the 3rd of February 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland. During the Working Group, the human rights situation in the following countries was discussed in an interactive dialogue: Czech Republic, Argentina, Gabon, Ghana, Peru, Guatemala, Benin, Korea (Republic of), Switzerland, Pakistan, Zambia, Japan, and Sri Lanka.
The session saw a total of 3.517 recommendations put forward by Recommending States. Frequently occurring topics included women’s rights, children’s rights, human trafficking, discrimination, and international instruments. Among the thirteen States under Review (SuR), Pakistan, Switzerland, and Guatemala received the highest number of recommendations. On average, States received recommendations from 100 delegations during the interactive dialogue. The final report for each SuR will be adopted at the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in June-July 2023.
Human rights priorities in the UPR42
The Czech Republic was the first country to be reviewed receiving 242 recommendations. During the interactive dialogue, 93 states took the floor to address some key issues, amongst them the top three raised issues were violence against women, discriminations, and child rights. Recommending States encouraged the Czech Republic to ratify the Istanbul Convention and the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW), to take concrete action to tackle gender-based violence, to implement the Roma integration strategy and to prohibit corporal punishment of children in law.
Argentina received 287 recommendations from 104 States. Key issues covered included police brutality, discriminations, and women’s rights. States encouraged Argentina to ratify the Inter-American Conventions and the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to take steps to improve prison conditions and fight discrimination and racism against minorities, including indigenous people.
Gabon received 259 recommendations from 101 delegations during the interactive dialogue. Key issues addressed included child rights, gender-based violence and human trafficking. Several countries recommended intensifying efforts to eradicate child marriage, child labor, domestic violence and to improve prison conditions and access to healthcare and education.
Ghana received 298 recommendations put forward by 111 States. Key issues covered included children’s rights, violence against women, death penalty and human trafficking. In this regard, several countries recommended Ghana to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (OP-ICCPR) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. Many recommendations encouraged Ghana to take concrete steps to eradicate harmful practices on women and girls including female genital mutilation, end domestic violence and discrimination against women, including by closing witch camps, protect LGBTQI persons, provide better sexual and reproductive health care services and fight corruption in public institutions.
Peru received 202 recommendations from 68 delegations. Key issues covered during the interactive dialogue included police brutality and violence, human trafficking, and gender-based violence. Countries recommended Peru to ratify OP-ICCPR and to repeal the police protection law. The need for enhanced measures to eradicate discriminations against indigenous people, to decriminalize abortion and to provide a secure environment for human rights defenders, journalists, and media workers.
Guatemala received 207 recommendations from 68 delegations. Key issues raised during the Review included press freedom, human trafficking, education, and discriminations. In this regard, Guatemala was recommended to ratify OP-ICCPR, to guarantee independence of the justice system, to improve detention conditions, to combat sexual violence against women and children and to eradicate discrimination against minorities including person with disabilities, indigenous people and LGBTQI+ community.
Benin received 258 recommendations from 99 delegations during the Working Group session. Key issues covered included child’s rights, violence against women, press freedom, and prison conditions. Recommendations were made to Benin to take measures to eradicate harmful practices, including female genital mutilation, discrimination against people with HIV, and trafficking of children, to provide better access to healthcare services and education to women and girls, and to respect press freedom.
The Republic of Korea received 263 recommendations from 95 delegations. The main issues raised in the recommendations were addressing women’s rights, digital sex-crimes, xenophobia, and prison conditions. Countries recommended The Republic of Korea to take steps to reduce overcrowding in prisons, protect labor rights of foreign workers, combat gender-based violence, provide gender equality, by reducing gender pay gap, and consider the ratification of OP-ICCPR.
Switzerland received 317 recommendations from 118 delegations. Key issues covered during the interactive dialogue included racism, discriminations hate speech and women’s rights. In this regard, countries recommended Switzerland to Ratify CMW and OP-CESCR, and to ensure the independence of the National Human Rights Institution.
Pakistan received a high number of recommendations on international instruments, the abolition of death penalty, women’s and children’s rights and discrimination. Several States recommended Pakistan to ratify the CMW, the OP-ICCPR, the Convention against Torture (CAT) and the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED) and to amend blasphemy legislation to avoid discriminations against religious minorities. Furthermore, Pakistan was recommended to take steps to eradicate all forms of terrorism and gender-based violence, to provide protection for journalists and media and freedom of expression, to prioritize women and children in legislative policies and to strengthen the education and the health care system. In total, 340 recommendations were presented to the SuR by 122 delegations.
Zambia received 250 recommendations put forward by 93 delegations during the interactive dialogue. Key issues covered during Zambia’s Review were international instruments, the rights of vulnerable groups, especially persons with albinism and child’s rights. Countries called on Zambia to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (CRC-OP-SC), OP-ICCPR, CAT-OP, to eradicate harmful practices such as sexual cleansing, human trafficking, exploitation of children, to criminalize marital rape, to repeal laws criminalizing consensual same-sex conduct between adults, to facilitate access to information, and to guarantee the independence of the National Human Rights Institution.
Japan received 300 recommendations from 115 delegations during the interactive dialogue. Key issues addressed included international instruments, women’s rights, discrimination and hate speech against minorities. In particular, several countries recommended Japan to ratify OP-ICCPR, CAT-OP, the Istanbul Convention and to establish a NHRI in accordance with the Paris principles. Moreover, Japan was recommended to intensify efforts to improve detention conditions, to combat human trafficking and to promote women’s empowerment.
Sri Lanka was the last country to be reviewed in the 42nd session of UPR. It received a total of 294 recommendations from 106 delegations. Key issues covered included women’s rights, death penalty and prison sentences including the ratification of OP-ICCPR and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Several countries recommended Sri Lanka to strengthen cooperation with the UN agencies, Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, combat human trafficking and provide an equal pay for all by establishing a minimum wage.
The UPR is a unique mechanism of the HRC aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground in each of the 193 UN Member States. The peer-review nature of the UPR continues to encourage global dialogue on human rights and has ensured that all countries, regardless of geographical, economic, or political influence, are accountable both nationally and internationally for their adherence to universal human rights standards.