MIDDAY - Human Rights Council Adopts Universal Periodic Review Outcomes of Australia, Saint Lucia, and Nepal
The Human Rights Council in a midday meeting adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Australia, Saint Lucia, and Nepal.
Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Australia were Malawi, Marshall Islands, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Singapore, China, Syria, and Tunisia.
The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Australia: Save the Children International, World Jewish Congress, World Evangelical Alliance, Edmund Rice International, Earthjustice, Fondazione Marista per la Solidarietà Internazionale ONLUS, CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, and International Lesbian and Gay Association.
Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Saint Lucia were Nepal, Russian Federation, Tunisia, United Nations Population Fund, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Barbados, Brazil, Cuba, Guyana, India, and Morocco.
The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Saint Lucia: Centre for Global Nonkilling, Advocates for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and United Nations Watch.
Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Nepal were India, Indonesia, Iraq, Maldives, Pakistan, Malawi, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, United Nations Population Fund, and Venezuela.
The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Nepal: Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, The Consortium for Street Children, World Evangelical Alliance, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Centre for Global Nonkilling, IDPC Consortium, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Lawyers for Lawyers, and World Vision International.
The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-seventh regular session can be found here.
The Human Rights Council will next meet at 3 p.m. to continue with the consideration of the Universal Periodic Review outcome documents of Oman, Austria, Rwanda, Georgia, Sao Tome and Principe and Nauru.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Australia
Presentation by Australia
SALLY MANSFIELD, Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that in considering the recommendations, Australia had held consultations across the Government at the federal, state and territory level to develop its response. The Australian Government had also actively engaged with civil society and the Australian Human Rights Commission. Australia viewed its response to Universal Periodic Review recommendations as an ongoing process and had responded to the recommendations in good faith. This did not indicate that Australia agreed with the underlying assumptions made by certain recommendations. Australia was committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement and was taking action: it would meet its 2030 Paris target and reach net zero as soon as possible, preferably by 2050. It would give further consideration to ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and also consider withdrawing its reservation to article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
ROSALIND FRANCES CROUCHER, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, noted that the Review’s focus on immigration issues echoed the Commission’s own strong concerns about Australia’s system of mandatory immigration detention, the long-term nature of it, and third country processing. Numerous recommendations also raised human rights concerns affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Australia’s minimum age of criminal responsibility disproportionately affected Aboriginal children and should be raised to at least 14 years. She encouraged the Government to publish clear information about actions taken, who in government was responsible, and how outcomes would be measured.
Some speakers commended Australia for its commitment to working with United Nations Special Procedure mandate holders, as well as its efforts toward promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples. Speakers also welcomed Australia’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. Some speakers alleged that Australian forces committed human rights violations abroad, and accused Australia of intervening in other countries’ internal affairs under the guise of human rights. Australia was urged to legally require consultation on climate change policies with children. Other speakers said that Australia should immediately phase out its use of fossil fuels. A youth speaker for civil society expressed concern, on behalf of the next generation of Australians, about the insufficient action taken by the Australian Government regarding climate change, as the country continued to experience more extreme weather events. The Australian Government should cease offshore processing of refugees, which was a human rights catastrophe.
The Vice President of the Council informed that out of 344 recommendations received, 177 enjoyed the support of Australia, while 167 had been noted.
SALLY MANSFIELD, Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked civil society and the Australian national human rights institution. For Australia, this was not the end, as engagement with the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review would continue on an ongoing basis.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Australia.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Saint Lucia
Presentation by Saint Lucia
COSMOS RICHARDSON, Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations in New York, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had unleashed a multiplicity of crises in the economic and social spheres in Saint Lucia, embodying a health crisis of unprecedented proportions, a huge fiscal dilemma, and increased pressure on the social protection framework. There was no denying that small island States like Saint Lucia were on the frontline of the climate crisis despite contributing least to climate change, suffering the gravest consequences. Saint Lucia continued to demonstrate its commitment to human rights obligations, and fully accepted almost 75 per cent of recommendations. Even as Saint Lucia’s ability to make progress within the development pillar continued to be stymied by an international architecture that continued to ignore its inherent vulnerabilities, it was committed to building a society in which respect for human rights was central to its ethos.
Speakers were encouraged by Saint Lucia’s national efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change within a regional context, expressing hope that the accepted recommendations would be implemented properly. Strides made in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment, particularly the development and launch of the Package of Essential Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence, were welcomed by speakers. The Government’s commitment to reduce poverty and to safeguard the socio-economic rights of vulnerable groups in Saint Lucia was also commended. Speakers noted that prisons were overcrowded, which was of particular concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, and further called on Saint Lucia to take concrete measures to abolish the death penalty. Others observed that Saint Lucia’s archaic laws on “buggery and gross indecency” had a pernicious effect on society, and urged the country to decriminalise consensual same-sex conduct.
The Vice President of the Council informed that out of 165 recommendations received, 113 enjoyed the support of Saint Lucia, while 49 had been noted. Additional clarification had been provided on 3 recommendations.
COSMOS RICHARDSON, Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations in New York, said Saint Lucia remained devoted to upholding its international commitments for the promotion and protection of the human rights of its people. Saint Lucia fully supported the Universal Periodic Review mechanism which could help the country fulfil its commitments through international cooperation and partnership.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Saint Lucia.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Nepal
Presentation by Nepal
MANI PRASAD BHATTARAI, Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that of 233 recommendations, Nepal had accepted 196 recommendations, or 84 per cent, and had noted 37 recommendations that required further assessment on the existing implementation capacity, including the development of requisite legal, policy, and institutional infrastructure, along with commensurate financial resources. On the recommendations to ratify disarmament-related instruments, Nepal supported time-bound, total and complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction under effective international control. Nepal had been able to control the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with low death rates. Vaccines represented the only means that could control the situation before the next wave could emerge. Nepal appealed to the international community for concerted global cooperation and to redouble efforts to ensure their equitable availability as a global public good.
TOP BAHADUR MAGAR, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal, expressed gratitude to the States that had made recommendations, and to the Government for accepting most of them. The responses to the recommendations made by the Commission were not encouraging, however, with only 37 per cent partially implemented so far. The transitional justice process must conclude without further delay. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nepal must urgently manage health services and procure vaccines. The Commission was closely working with thematic commissions and other stakeholders to promote and protect human rights.
Speakers commended Nepal for accepting the majority of its recommendations and expressed appreciation for the country’s constructive cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review process. Speakers expressed appreciation for Nepal’s acceptance of recommendations to engage vulnerable populations in the development and implementation of climate-resilient adaptation plans, and also urged Nepal to continue opening up civic space, in line with its people-centred approach to human rights. Nepal’s efforts at poverty eradication and ameliorating the living standards of its people were noted, yet speakers also observed that the COVID-19 pandemic had compounded existing inequalities, and disrupted access to essential reproductive health and gender-based violence services. Young people in Nepal continued to be denied access to sexual and reproductive health services and education. Speakers called on Nepal to guarantee freedom of religion or belief in law and in practice. Nepal was urged to ensure that all proposed regulations related to freedom of expression were in line with international standards, and to decriminalise defamation.
The Vice President of the Council informed that out of 233 recommendations received, 196 enjoyed the support of Nepal and 37 were noted.
MANI PRASAD BHATTARAI, Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations Office at Geneva, reiterated Nepal’s commitment to implement the recommendations that it had accepted through an action plan under a dedicated mechanism. The recommendations were being integrated with Nepal’s national plans and policies, including in its ongoing Fifth National Human Rights Action Plan (2020-2025), as well as in the process of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Nepal.