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MORNING - Human Rights Council Concludes General Debate on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms, Holds General Debate on the Universal Periodic Review

Meeting Summaries

 

The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, and held a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review.

Among the issues raised by speakers in the continuing general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms was that all States should abide by their commitments made to the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, and respond to communications made by the mandate holders and treaty bodies. The situation of indigenous peoples across the world was also an issue of concern for many speakers, who expressed concern at their loss of traditional lands and having to leave their traditional homes. The failure to investigate by the United Nations was a main cause of the increase in human rights violations, according to some speakers, and the Special Procedures should be strengthened in order to produce stronger relief on the ground and where there was a dire need. A number of speakers said attacks on human rights defenders were becoming common across the world, with many Governments targeting them with arbitrary arrests, disappearances, and other forms of harassment, with women human rights defenders in particular suffering from a wide range of sexual-based threats.

In the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review, some speakers commended the Universal Periodic Review process, describing it as the crown jewel of the Human Rights Council, and one of its greatest successes. The ground-breaking peer review mechanism provided a platform for meaningful dialogue where States could highlight national efforts and achievements, share best practices, and offer constructive feedback to better address human rights challenges. Some speakers said the Universal Periodic Review process needed to be conducted objectively, based on reliable information. It should not be used as a tool to interfere with the sovereignty of States and question their political systems, cultures, or religious particularities. A number of speakers highlighted specific recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review process which had not been upheld by certain States.

Speaking in the general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms were International Muslim Women’s Union, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Union of Northwest Human Rights Organization, World Barua Organization, Global Welfare Association, American Association of Jurists, World Muslim Congress, World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Humanist and Ethnical Unions, Promotion du Développement Economique et Social, iuventum e.V., Platform for Youth Integration and Volunteerism, Alliance Creative Community Project, Shaanxi Patriotic Volunteer Association, Réseau Unité pour le Développement de Mauritanie, Global Appreciation and Skills Training Network, Alsalam Foundation, Partners for Transparency, Al Baraem Association for Charitable Work, Fitilla, Community Human Rights and Advocacy Centre, Al-Hakim Foundation, Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee, Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi, Commission africaine des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l'homme, Association Burkinabé pour la Survie de l'Enfance, and Jeunesse Etudiante Tamoule.

Speaking in the general debate on the Universal Periodic Review were Malaysia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Czech Republic on behalf of the European Union and a group of other countries, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, Azerbaijan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Palestine on behalf of the Arab Group, Belgium on behalf of the Group of French-Speaking Countries, India, Bhutan on behalf of a group of countries, Finland, Cuba, Venezuela, Libya, China, Armenia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Malawi, Mauritania, Tunisia, Iraq, Samoa, Slovenia, Morocco, Bahrain, Ethiopia, South Africa, Algeria, United Nations Population Fund, Georgia, Suriname, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Sudan, Iran, Dominican Republic, and Cambodia.

Also speaking were Centre catholique international de Genève, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, Action Canada for Population and Development, Global Life Savers Inc., Partners For Transparency, Global Appreciation and Skills Training Network,Association Burkinabé pour la Survie de l'Enfance, Tamil Uzhagam, United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, International Council Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc., Amnesty International, Association des étudiants tamouls de France, Association pour la Défense des Droits de Développement Durable et du Bien-être Familial, World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Society for Development and Community Empowerment, Fitilla, International Yazidis Foundation for the Prevention of Genocide, Platform for Youth Integration and Volunteerism, Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, Association Bharathi Centre Culturel Franco-TamoulAssociation Culturelle des Tamouls en France, Jeunesse Etudiante Tamoule, and Association pour l'Intégration et le Développement Durable au Burundi .

Speaking in right of reply were China, Indonesia, and Venezuela.

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 fifty-first regular session can be found here.

The Council will resume its work at 3 p.m. this afternoon to hold a general debate under agenda item seven on the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, followed by a general debate under agenda item eight on follow-up to and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

General Debate on Agenda Item Five on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

The general debate on agenda item five on human rights bodies and mechanisms started in the previous meeting and a summary can be found here.

General Debate on Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms

Among issues raised by speakers in the continuing general debate was the fact that international human rights law laid down obligations which States were obligated to respect. The democratic space for civil society was shrinking worldwide, with the space for freedom of speech also shrinking, both of which were essential for a free and democratic society. Some speakers said all States should abide by their commitments made to the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, and respond to communications made by the mandate holders and treaty bodies. All States should extend standing invitations to all Special Procedure mandate holders.

The situation of indigenous peoples across the world was also an issue of concern for many speakers, who expressed concern at their loss of traditional lands and having to leave their traditional homes. There were many cases of violence perpetrated against indigenous peoples by companies, violating their rights, causing the death of their children. This also resulted in a grievous loss of biodiversity. The issue of religious persecution was also raised by a speaker, who noted that in some areas of the world, the practice of certain religions was becoming ever more difficult.

The failure to investigate by the United Nations was a main cause of the increase in human rights violations, according to some speakers, and the Special Procedures should be strengthened in order to produce stronger relief on the ground and where there was a dire need. Human rights should be promoted in accordance with human rights mechanisms, and technical cooperation should be promoted across the board, including with civil society.

A number of speakers said attacks on human rights defenders were becoming common across the world, with many Governments targeting them with arbitrary arrests, disappearances, and other forms of harassment, with women human rights defenders in particular suffering from a wide range of sexual-based threats. United Nations Member States should bring those who were guilty of committing gross human rights violations before the International Criminal Court. The Human Rights Council should appoint country-specific mandates to monitor the situation in countries where such violations occurred.

One speaker also raised the issue of the length of statements by non-governmental organizations to the Human Rights Council, saying that 90 seconds was too short.

General Debate on the Universal Periodic Review

Speakers in the general debate commended the Universal Periodic Review process, describing it as the crown jewel of the Human Rights Council, and one of its greatest successes. The ground-breaking peer review mechanism provided a platform for meaningful dialogue where States could highlight national efforts and achievements, share best practices, and offer constructive feedback to better address human rights challenges. It had strengthened cooperation and engagements between States and a wide range of stakeholders, including civil society and national human rights institutions, among others. Through positive and constructive interactions, States were able to demonstrate tangible progress in the promotion and protection of human rights, including through voluntary policy and institutional reforms.

At the commencement of the fourth Universal Periodic Review cycle, speakers had reiterated their full support to the process. Speakers remained strongly committed to the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, which had the overarching goal of improving human rights worldwide. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was commended for its smooth running of the Universal Periodic Review process.

Some speakers said the Universal Periodic Review process needed to be conducted objectively, based on reliable information. It should not be used as a tool to interfere with the sovereignty of States and question their political systems, cultures, or religious particularities. The process needed to remain an intergovernmental process, driven by United Nation members on an equal footing, and oriented towards cooperation, in an objective, transparent, and non-politicised manner. Speakers stressed that it was essential to ensure that the Universal Periodic Review process was carried out by the Human Rights Council, with full participation of the country under review, with capacity building needs taken into account.

A number of speakers said they were not willing to negotiate the basic principles and functioning of the Universal Periodic Review, which should be preserved. They expressed concern about the sending and publication of letters to countries, privileging some recommendations and ignoring others, calling on the Office of the High Commissioner to eliminate this practice. During the process of country-specific human rights deliberations, countries were urged to carry out sincere dialogue and to avoid smearing and exerting pressure in the name of comments and suggestions. Some speakers rejected the fact that the Council be used to impose selective and politicised initiatives, through costly resolutions against specific countries, which were ineffective. A number of speakers highlighted specific recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review process which had not been upheld by certain States. Others said that in some cases, the mechanism had failed to protect cultural groups from genocide, proposing that the Council hold a special session dedicated to the victims, and to recommend that the States involved appear before the International Criminal Court.

Some speakers underlined the importance of providing capacity building and technical cooperation to States, to facilitate the meaningful implementation of accepted Universal Periodic Review recommendations. The Universal Periodic Review process required the meaningful and unhindered participation of all stakeholders, which included States, government officials, and civil society organizations. States were urged to take the necessary measures to ensure and enhance civil society cooperation in their work without fear of reprisals or intimidation, either at home or abroad.

A number of speakers believed that national parliaments, as well as civil society, should be involved in national consultation processes prior to the Universal Periodic Review process. These groups were essential in ensuring the process had a tangible impact on the ground, ensuring that actual changes were brought about in human rights. States under review were strongly encouraged to follow up on recommendations received during the Universal Periodic Review cycle, as a means of making progress in their human rights situations.

 

Produced by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva for use of the information media;
not an official record. English and French versions of our releases are different as they are the product of two separate coverage teams that work independently.

 

HRC22.107E