43rd UPR Working Group: Key Highlights
The 43rd session of the Universal Period Review (UPR) Working Group took place from the 1st of May to the 12th of May 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland. During the Working Group, the human rights situation in the following States was discussed in an interactive dialogue: France, Tonga, Romania, Mali, Botswana, Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein, Serbia.
The session saw a total of 3.768 recommendations put forward by Recommending States. Frequently occurring topics included freedom of expression and press freedom, the protection of human right defenders, women’s rights, child rights, human trafficking, discrimination, and ratifications of international instruments. On average, States received 269 recommendations during the interactive dialogue. Among the fourteen States under Review (SuR), France, Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates received the highest number of recommendations.
The final report for each SuR will be adopted at the 54th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in September-October 2023.
Main human rights topics addressed in UPR43
France was the first country to be reviewed receiving 355 recommendations. During the interactive dialogue, 125 states took the floor to address some key issues in the country and formulate recommendations to end discrimination, racism, xenophobia and gender-based violence. Recommending States encouraged France to ratify the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW), to take concrete actions to eradicate violence against women and feminicide. During the 4th UPR of France more attention was raised on issues linked to reduce the economic and social gaps between the overseas territories and the mainland, to fight against the use of violence by police during demonstrations and to combat hatred against religious minorities.
Tonga received 173 recommendations from 59 States. Key issues addressed in the recommendations included ending discrimination against LGBTQI+ community and decriminalize consensual same-sex relations. States encouraged Tonga to take steps to combat gender-based violence and increase women's access to justice. Recommendations also asked, to abolish the death penalty and to ratify international human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OP-CAT), the Istanbul convention and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED). Climate change was also raised in several recommendations.
Romania received 251 recommendations from 85 delegations during the interactive dialogue. Key issues addressed included human trafficking, children’s rights and the justice system. Several UN Member States recommended intensifying efforts to eliminate economic exploitation of children, combat discrimination in the education system, ensure investigation and prosecution of corruption in all sectors of the government, legalize same-sex marriage and eradicate racism, xenophobia and hate speech.
Mali received 275 recommendations put forward by 100 States. Key issues covered included abolition of death penalty, violence against women, freedom of expression, human trafficking and access to healthcare services and education. In this regard, UN Member States recommended Mali to eradicate female genital mutilation, to combat child trafficking, child labor and child marriage, to ratify the ICCPR, to ensure the safety of journalists and human right defenders, to investigate the killings of journalists in the country and to ensure freedom of speech and press.
Botswana received 296 recommendations from 105 delegations. Key issues covered during the interactive dialogue included freedom of press, abolition of death penalty, children’s rights, women’s rights and discrimination. UN Member States recommended Botswana to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Convention on the reduction of statelessness, ICCPR, ICCPED, OPCAT, CMW and CESCR. Enhanced measures to eradicate discriminations against LGBTQI+ persons, indigenous people and persons with disabilities were included in the recommendations to Botswana. Recommending States also asked the country to decriminalize abortion and to provide safe reproductive health access, to improve healthcare infrastructure for combating HIV/AIDS. States also recommended to establish a NHRI in line with Paris Principles.
The Bahamas received 223 recommendations from 84 delegations. Key issues raised during the Review included statelessness, gender inequality, detention conditions and climate change. In this regard, the Bahamas was recommended to improve the situation of refugees, asylum seekers and stateless people by providing access to education and health care services, to develop inclusive climate action and disaster relief plans, to increase women's economic independence and to combat gender-based violence.
Burundi received 287 recommendations from 105 delegations. The main issues raised in the recommendations were focused on the improvement of health care services and education, the eradication of poverty and abolition of death penalty. Recommendations on ending discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons and people with albinism were also raised. Countries recommended Burundi to take steps to combat discrimination against human rights defenders (HRDs), journalists and media workers, to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, to provide access to decent housing for vulnerable people and to ratify the CED.
Luxembourg received 354 recommendations from 92 delegations. Key issues covered during the interactive dialogue included financial crimes, racism, discrimination and domestic violence. In this regard, UN Member States recommended Luxembourg to strengthen measures to condemn sexual harassment, especially in the workplace. Luxembourg also received recommendations to combat financial crimes, in particular money laundering and tax evasion. Recommendations to protect the rights of asylum seekers and to increase access to work for migrants by ratifying the CMW were also raised during the Working Group.
Barbados received 224 recommendations from 76 delegations during the interactive dialogue. Key issues addressed included the ratification of core international treaties, access to health services and discrimination. In particular, several UN Member States recommended Barbados to ratify OP-ICCPR, UNCAT and to establish a NHRI in accordance with the Paris Principles. Moreover, Barbados was recommended to intensify efforts to ensure the rights of marginalized groups included LGBTQI+ community by decriminalizing same-sex relationships, to guarantee access to sexual and reproductive health services and to introduce comprehensive sexuality and reproductive health education in the mandatory school curriculum.
Montenegro received 247 recommendations put forward by 87 delegations during the interactive dialogue. UN Member States called on Montenegro to take further steps to ensure children’s nationality after birth to avoid statelessness, to combat poverty and hate speech. Montenegro also received recommendations to ensure the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and to fight discrimination and xenophobia.
The United Arab Emirates received a high number of recommendations on death penalty, the protection of HRDs, media workers and journalists from harassment and intimidation and the protection of domestic and migrant workers. States also recommended the UAE to take measures to strengthen the independence of the new NHRI. Furthermore, the UAE received recommendations on food security, environmental protection, reproductive rights for women and girls and the right to nationality. In total, 323 recommendations were presented to the SuR by 117 delegations.
Israel received 320 recommendations put forward by 89 delegations. Countries called on Israel to end violence against women and reduce inequalities, including by reducing the gender pay gap. Recommendations were made to end racism and xenophobia and the excessive use of force by security forces. UN Member States recommended Israel to protect journalists, HRDs, and CSOs from threats and intimidation and ensure that they can operate in a safe environment, ensure the protection of human rights of the Palestinian people. Israel also received recommendations to combat discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons, prevent human trafficking, establish a NHRI in line with Paris principles and ensure freedom of religion and belief.
Liechtenstein received 184 recommendations from 71 delegations. Key issues covered during the interactive dialogue included the rights of refugees and migrants, financial flows, discriminations and human trafficking. In this regard, UN Member States recommended Liechtenstein to ratify the CMW to improve the condition of migrant workers, to increase the participation and representation of women in political life, to protect children from all forms of violence and abuse, online and offline, and to combat money laundering and illicit financing.
Serbia was the last country to be reviewed in the 43rd session of UPR. It received a total of 256 recommendations from 94 delegations. Key issues covered in the recommendations included fight against racism, discrimination and violence against women. Serbia was recommended to take further steps to increase youth employment, end human trafficking and corporal punishment of children, to ensure media freedom and freedom of expression and to reduce wage gap between men and women.
Good practices shared by States during the UPR
The peer-review nature of the UPR encourages global dialogue on human rights and has ensured that all countries, regardless of geographical, economic, or political influence, are accountable for their adherence to universal human rights standards.
During the UPR WG 43, UPR Info did live tweeting for all 14 countries and shared the key issues raised in the recommendations. As the UPR is also a space to exchange good practices among States UPR Info identified three initiatives by States under Review that could inspire other UN Member States.
Please note that the list of examples below is not exhaustive.