Women’s rights, detention, and racial discrimination highlighted at UPR 27

The first UPR of the 3rd cycle took place from 1 to 12 May 2017. During the 27th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, 14 States underwent their third UPR: Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, Ecuador, Finland, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Tunisia, and United Kingdom. Most delegations were headed by high-level representatives, with 10 ministers representing their respective countries. In total, the States under Review (SuR) received approximately 3567 recommendations, with the majority of recommendations being left pending, to be examined in their respective countries’ capitals. All decisions on recommendations will be made by the 14 SuRs no later than during the 36th Human Rights Council (HRC) in September 2017.

Session 27 Highlights

During this session a number of issues that featured heavily in the previous UPR cycles were highlighted once again, namely; establishing a moratorium on the death penalty, the rights of the child, and women’s rights. Issues related to the fight against racism and discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), were made to each of the 14 SuRs, as were calls for the ratification of a range of International Conventions. Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, India, Brazil, Philippines, Algeria, and Poland all received specific recommendations regarding the protection human rights defenders, with all States receiving recommendations on the complementary aspects of the freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, movement, and opinion and expression. Ecuador, Indonesia, and Poland also received multiple recommendations regarding their judicial systems.
The protection of women’s rights was raised throughout the session, to the extent that is was the most raised issue. During the reviews of Tunisia, Morocco, Finland, India, Algeria and the Netherlands this issue was discussed the most, with Tunisia receiving the highest number of recommendations on women’s rights. For example, Belgium recommended Tunisia; to put into force a law to criminalise violence against women and to end marital rape, whilst other States recommended putting an end to marriage as a remedy to rape. Finland, received recommendations regarding the definition of rape, to no longer relate to violence but to lack of consent, and providing remedies for victims of sexual violence. Recommendations to eliminate gender inequality in the labour market, through closing the gender pay gap, were common place this session. SOGI recommendations were primarily made towards Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, and Indonesia, whilst Finland, the UK, India, Philippines and Poland all received recommendations on the protection of the rights of the child.

Regarding economical, social and cultural rights, many states received recommendations on the right to health and education. Justice and freedom of expression, assembly, and association were often made during the UPR of Bahrain, Ecuador, Indonesia and Philippines. The issues of detention, of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and children, and racial discrimination were raised for the UK, Brazil, Poland, Netherlands, and South Africa.
During the review of the Philippines, numerous statements from Recommending States addressed the “war on drugs” through recommendations on ending extra judicial executions and impunity. Several countries recommended Bahrain to combat torture and ill treatment, fight impunity and protect freedom of the press. Bahrain also was recommended to establish a moratorium on the death penalty. These recommendations were made in light of Bahraini authorities issuing travel bans against a human rights defender due to speak at the UPR Pre-sessions in April 2017.

Emerging trends 

UPR Info, through its initial analysis of the 27th session of the Working Group, has noticed that most SuRs  left the majority of the recommendations pending during the adoption of the UPR draft report. In doing so, it opens up the opportunity for inter-ministerial consultations and dialogue with civil society. UPR Info encourages this good practice of consultation with as many actors and stakeholders as possible and therefore sees this as a promising trend.

The Civil Society Compendium offers civil society a guide on how best to effect the final decision on all UPR recommendations, which for the SuRs of Session 27 will be made in September 2017 at the 36th Session of the HRC.