Conclusion of the 34th Session of the UPR
The beginning of November saw the conclusion of the 34th Session of the Universal Period Review (UPR) Working Group, which reviewed the human rights situation in fourteen United Nations (UN) Member States from the 4th to the 15th of November in Geneva, Switzerland. States under Review (SuR) were Italy, El Salvador, the Gambia, Bolivia, Fiji, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Angola, Iran, Madagascar, Iraq, Slovenia, Egypt, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The session saw a total of 3463 recommendations put forward. Frequently occurring topics included rights of the child; torture, the death penalty and detention; freedom of expression, assembly, and the press; women’s rights; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) rights; rights of persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities; and strengthened engagement with international legal instruments. Among the fourteen SuR, Egypt, Iran, Italy, Iraq and Angola received the largest number of recommendations. On average, States received recommendations from 93 delegations during the interactive dialogue. Moreover, States regularly posed recommendations mirroring those suggested by civil society organizations at UPR Info’s preceding Pre-sessions that took place in October 2019. The final report for each SuR will be adopted at the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in February 2020.
State Under Review Overviews:
Italy received a great number of recommendations on the rights of minorities, migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees, LGBTI, and the adoption of an Action Plan against racism, xenophobia and intolerance. Several States formulated recommendations on Women’s rights, particularly to take measures to combat violence against women and to promote women’s empowerment. In these regards, Hon. Manilo Di Stefano, Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affaires and International Cooperation, and head of the Italian delegation noted an increased percentage of women in the parliament (34.5%).
In total, 306 recommendations were presented to the SuR by 121 delegations.
El Salvador: During the interactive review of El Salvador, 74 States took the floor and formulated 207 recommendations. Some of the key topics covered violence, torture, enforced disappearances, rights of migrants, rights of the child, and discrimination against women and LGBTI persons. Head of the delegation, Vice Minister Ana Geraldina Beneke Castaneda noted the steps taken to eradicate child marriage, combat gang violence, rehabilitate youth criminal offenders, uphold the rights of indigenous peoples and ensure gender equality in society. For instance, El Salvador is proud of the establishment of a National System for Substantive Equality, a coordinating mechanism between states and institutions used to ensure the enforcement of the laws on gender equality and eradication of violence against women.
Gambia: Many recommendations focused on justice; the death penalty; freedom of expression, association and the press; the right to education, especially for girls; women’s rights; the right to health; and non-discrimination of minorities. Mr. Abubacarr M. Tambadou, head of delegation, stated that “attention and limited resources of the Gambia are now focused on governance, transitional justice and reconciliation”. In total 86 delegations took the floor and made 222 recommendations.
Bolivia: The States received a total of 238 recommendations from 90 delegations. In its National Reports, presented by Minister of Justice Arce Zaconeta, Bolivia indicated the advancements made in area of economic growth, education and health, such as a free vaccination campaign and free short term health care for pregnant women. Moreover, the Minister of Justice stated that “despite all of the grave events in my country, the government of Bolivia, mindful of human rights, is not exercising, nor will exercise any form of repression against demonstrations”. Recurring issues brought up in recommendations included women’s rights, right to health and education, freedom of expression, rights of indigenous peoples, or prosecution of hate crimes.
Fiji : States welcomed the establishment of a National Adaptation Plan to ensure an inclusive and strong approach to climate change mitigation and building natural disaster resilience. Moreover, Fiji announced the updating of government guidelines on prosecuting child sexual abuse and reiterated that non-discrimination is consecrated in the constitution. Key issues addressed in the 242 recommendations, formulated by 97 delegations, included gender-based violence, rights of the child, rights of persons with disabilities, rights of minorities and LBGTI persons, and finally, access to healthcare and education.
San Marino: During the interactive review, 46 delegations took the floor and 5 states submitted questions in advance. Some of the recurring issues addressed in the 109 recommendations were women’s rights, especially concerning sexual and reproductive health, the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution, and the ratification of international Human Rights instruments. During his introduction speech, H.E. Mr. Marcello Beccari, Ambassador Permanent Representative of San Marino presented some of the progress that San Marino made during the second cycle. He mentioned, for instance, the promulgation of the law against corporal punishment and the recognition of Registered Civil Partnership for every couples.
Kazakhstan: 93 delegations presented 245 recommendations during the interactive review. Many States addressed recommendations on freedom of expression and assembly, gender equality and the fight against gender-based violence, the protection of independence of the judiciary, and the fight against torture. Head of delegation, Minister of Justice Beketayev Marat, noted progress achieved in gender equality with 22% of government positions occupied by women.
Angola was presented with 270 recommendations by 110 delegations, some of them centered around the establishment of a national human rights institution, rights of minorities, persons with disabilities, LGBTI persons, and women. Other issues raised focused on the freedom of expression, association, and the press, and the protection of human rights defenders. During the review, head of delegation Minister Manual Domingos Augusto explained that “In January 2019, the law on freedom of religion, belief and worship was passed. It incorporates a set of new measures aimed at safeguarding the exercise of the rights to freedom of religion”.
Islamic Republic of Iran received 329 recommendations from 111 delegations. During the presentation of the national reports Head of Delegation, Mohammad Javad Larijani, noted “economic sanctions impede the full achievement of economic and social development and the enjoyment of a number of rights contained in the ICCPR and the ICESCR, including the right to life, to health, to work and development”. Some of the recurring topics of the recommendations were the death penalty; the conditions of detention and torture; women’s rights; freedom of expression, association, and religion; and the ratification of core international instruments.
Madagascar: During its’ review, 81 recommending states took the floor and made 203 recommendations. Some of the issues covered included rights of the child, women’s rights, human trafficking, conditions of detention, torture, and excessive use of force by security forces. The head of delegation, Minister of Justice Jacques Randrianasolo, explained that the “fight against human trafficking, slavery of migrant workers and eradication of child labour are among the challenges Madagascar has set itself to achieve the SDG in 2030”. The Minister also gave some examples of measures taken to achieve those goals, such as the creation of an inter-ministerial committee for follow-up on migration and the implementation of the global compact on migration.
Iraq : 111 States made a statement during their review and 298 recommendations were formulated. Head of delegation, Minister of Justice Othman, presented the national report and noted that “the government has taken a number of measures to allow for the return of 85% of Internally Displaced Persons”. Some of the key issues discussed in the recommendations were women’s rights and gender-based violence; freedom of expression, association, and the press; the fight against poverty; and access to healthcare and education.
Slovenia announced that its NHRI received the A status according to the Paris Agreement. Head of delegation, deputy Prime Minister Miro Cerar, also affirmed Slovenia’s commitment to women’s rights and the prevention of domestic violence. The recommendations received covered issues such as prevention of trafficking, especially for migrants and asylum seekers, the prosecution of hate speech and racism, and access to water and sanitation for minorities. In total, Slovenia received 215 recommendations from 81 delegations.
Egypt: During its second cycle, Egypt received 300 recommendations, 224 of which were implemented, affirmed by head of delegation, Minister Omar Marwan. During the interactive review, many recommendations covered alleged extrajudicial killings; torture; enforced disappearances; and freedom of expression, association, and the press. Egypt also received recommendations on the death penalty, corruption, and the rights of the child. Altogether, 133 States took the floor to formulate 372 recommendations.
Bosnia and Herzegovina received 207 recommendations from 74 delegations. States welcomed steps taken towards freedom of assembly for LGBTI communities and the fight against gender-based and domestic violence with the adoption of the Gender Action Plan (2018-2022). Key issues that were addressed during the review included the right to education for minorities; access to justice; freedom of the press, expression, and association; and rights of minorities and people with disabilities.
The UPR is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground of each of the 193 United Nations (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.