Universal Periodic Review: looking back and moving forward

On Thursday 13th October a meeting was held celebrating the 1st closing cycle of the mechanism of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Palais des Nations, Room XX. The meeting, organized by the NGO UPR-info in co-sponsorship with the Permanent Missions of Morocco, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, aimed to review the first cycle session, identifying the progress made in the field of human rights around the world. H.E. Omar Hilal (Permanent Mission of Morocco) opened the meeting stressing the importance of the event and called a reflection involving both permanent delegations and civil society. The debate continued with the two speeches from Vice-Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, and the President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Laura Dupuy Lasarre. Both underlined the importance of the UPR in spreading a culture of respect for human rights over the entire world. Other speakers including Juan Jose Gomez Camacho (Permanent Mission of Mexico), Silverio Pinto Baptista (Institution for Human Rights in Timor-Leste) and Dubravka Simonovic (Independent Expert of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) enriched the debate with their perspectives. 

The dual relationship between UPR and treaty bodies was emphasized during the meeting: the UPR addresses all Member States and provides a peer review, that is, between States; while the Committees concern only those countries that have ratified the relevant Convention and compounds by independent experts. However, even with these differences, collaboration between the two mechanisms is necessary: ​ the Universal Periodic Review should be seen as an added value of the work done by the Human Rights Council and treaty bodies. All the speakers noted the positive impact of the UPR, in providing data to demonstrate the effective implementation of the recommendations presented in the various sessions. These recommendations are taken into consideration by treaty bodies. Finally, the group addressed indicators to monitor the implementation of recommendations. This analysis looked at the second cycle of the UPR as an instrument of action: a process to ensure that all recommendations previously submitted to a State will be heard and implemented. The last message was addressed to NGOs, especially for the follow-up review, stating that NGOs can play an important role taken into account considering the recommendations common to all UPR and the Committees. In conclusion, H. E. Dante Martinelli (Permanent Mission of Switzerland) thanked all participants for the hard yet fruitful work made during this first cycle of Universal Periodic Review.