Human Rights Council holds general debate on the UPR
Friday, 01 October 2010 15:41


During the general debate on the UPR at the Human Rights Council’s 15th session, some States outlined their efforts to improve the human rights situation in their countries by following up on UPR recommendations (China, Argentina and Algeria), whereas others used the opportunity to highlight the shortcomings of the UPR process, as perceived by them.


Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), the USA, and Austria devoted much attention to how the UPR could be improved. The issues that were raised repeated many of the ones flagged up during the Council’s previous sessions, demonstrating a real need for these points to be addressed during the 2011 review of the Council and in preparation for the second cycle of the UPR, which will start in 2012.


The UPR process was considered to be weakened by the practice of some States to withhold reasons for rejecting recommendations, in effect obstructing the basis for constructive dialogue (as stated by EU, US and Austria). Another point of great concern involves States stating their own national legislation as a reason for rejecting recommendations, even where this is incompatible with their obligations under international law (as stated by EU with support from US, Austria and Hungary). Examples in which this reason was given include Grenada and Kenya with their refusal to abolish the death penalty and decriminalise sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.


Some States said they valued the interim reports on the progress States had made towards implementing recommendations, and urged for regular updates on the implementation of accepted recommendations to become common practice (USA, Austria, Colombia, Turkey and Romania). The need to assess the adequacy or inadequacy of these efforts was also stressed (Austria, Hungary). It was considered equally important to follow up on the recommendations that did not enjoy a State’s support (Austria). China, in stark contrast, felt that countries should report on their progress only on a voluntary basis.


Other areas in need of improvement include the speakers’ list (the USA, Austria, Hungary - the USA suggested making it truly ‘universal’ by giving all States the opportunity to speak). Some States criticised the UPR for being a platform for expression of bias and political interests and called for this issue to be addressed, in particular the practice whereby the list of speakers for a State under review is dominated by ‘friendly States’ delivering favourable statements, which do not reflect the reality on the ground.


Despite these drawbacks, the adoption of UPR outcomes at this session saw some positive developments. For example, in light of the major ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan in May and June 2010, the acceptance by this State of several recommendations in an effort to improve its human rights situation and meet its international obligations, was highly welcomed by all States. The country has accepted recommendations to put an end to torture and other forms of ill-treatment committed against civilians and particularly human rights defenders including the introduction of investigations into torture by establishing an independent monitoring centre and putting an end to harassment and arbitrary arrests against all persons. Grenada responded favourably to a recommendation to step up its efforts in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. States were pleased to note that the free and fair national referendum, that enabled Kenya’s constitutional reform of the recent months, was in line with their recommendations.

Last Updated on Friday, 01 October 2010 16:22
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