UN Human Rights Council: Adoption of the Outcomes of the 31st UPR session

On March 14th - 15th, the Human Rights Council (HRC) addressed Item 6 during its 40th Session. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) outcomes of the 31st UPR Working Group were considered for adoption in the plenary. States Under Review (SuR) during the 31st Session were:

 Saudi Arabia, Senegal, China, Nigeria, Mexico, Mauritius, Jordan, Malaysia, Central African Republic, Monaco, Belize, Chad, Congo, and Malta.

During the session, SuRs provided statements on their outcome report, explaining their response to recommendations and revealing challenges ahead. For example, the delegation of Nigeria spoke of the recommendations it received pertaining to promotion of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals, such as realizing same-sex marriage, and explained that they did not enjoy its support on the grounds of being “against national values”. Congo reiterated its recent commitment to ratify the 2nd Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a key step in abolishing the death penalty. Mauritius noted that it had accepted all recommendations relating to rights of the child, and Malta discussed efforts underway since the second cycle to establish a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles. China’s report drew notable attention from the international community. Recommending States noted with satisfaction China’s successful implementation of initiatives that have lifted millions out of poverty since the previous cycle but expressed concern over detention centers for ethnic minorities. Civil society organizations took the floor to express disappointment in the way many SuRs did not accept LGBTI and sexual orientation and gender-identity recommendations but welcomed progress made in Belize.

Shrinking space for civil society and assembly was regularly discussed by CSOs, while climate change, extremism and terrorism were cited as challenges ahead by SuRs. Consideration and adoption of the reviews were followed by a General Debate, an opportunity for Member States to provide voluntary mid-term reports and for CSOs to provide updates on implementation of recommendations. Recommending States posed questions and SuRs were requested feedback on the status of implementation of certain recommendations during the discussion.

UPR Info presented a statement to the HRC for the General Debate, available here. In the statement, we honored International Women’s Day, observed this month, by highlighting suggestions moving forward in formulating UPR recommendations relating to women’s rights. Specifically, UPR Info emphasized the importance of specificity in recommendations to conduct impact assessments, stressed the need for rhetoric entailing a right holders approach rather than victimizing language, and encourages reporting on gender equality one year after adoption of the Working Group report.