HRC holds general debate on the UPR

The General Debate concerning item 6 on the Universal Periodic Review took place on September 23 during the 18th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). The States and NGOs taking the floor during the debate recognized the valuable advances made during the first cycle of the UPR and referred to the importance of follow-up procedures to reflect the common challenges and high expectations for the upcoming second cycle.

Concerning the first cycle of the UPR, all the intervening speakers agreed on the fact that such mechanism has been the ideal opportunity to share good practices and establish stronger commitments in the promotion and protection of human rights. However, Poland, on behalf of the European Union (EU), pointed out the modalities that require further modification, including giving the National Human Rights Institutions a greater participation in the process in order to contribute with the implementation of the accepted recommendations.

Furthermore, Romania highlighted the need to strengthen the credibility of the process through a more serious engagement of the States before and during the UPR. In that sense, countries should present mid-term reports on the basis of a more inclusive and systematic follow-up process. Concerning mid-term reports, Austria stated its commitment to maintain a regular update on their implementation process, which has already improved the national debate on human rights in the country. Moreover, Malaysia's National Human Rights Commission shared its positive experience on monitoring the implementation of recommendations and additionally proposing the creation of an internal UPR follow up. Spain and China stated as well their own positive advances on the implementation of recommendations through follow-up reports and evaluations, and in the case of China, by issuing its first National Action Plan on 2009-2010. Finally, Austria invited the delegations to actively use the general debate under item 6 and side events during the next cycle to report on their progress and difficulties in implementing recommendations.

Regarding the second cycle, States and NGOs agreed upon the need to focus on the implementations of the accepted recommendations. The first issue was raised by Poland, on behalf of the EU, suggesting the Council to clarify the dates and time lines for the upcoming reviews. Moreover, the Republic of Korea exposed its concern over the ongoing tendency of some countries to categorically reject recommendations without given them due consideration. On the other hand, the Republic of Moldova advocated in favor of increasing the role of NGOs and NHRI in the UPR process while Cuba and the Republic of Korea celebrated the modifications regarding the list of speakers to be applied on the second cycle.

Lastly, States and NGOs taking the floor during agreed upon the importance of increasing the participation of civil society in order to strengthen the UPR process. Amnesty International identified national consultations as essential practices to ensure a transparent and meaningful process.