UNHRC Completes Its 17th Session of Universal Periodic Review

Posted by Guo Cai – November 19, 2013 @ 00:09.

On November 1, 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council (“UNHRC”) completed its 17th Universal Periodic Review (“UPR”) session.  The UPR is a cooperative mechanism to review through interactive dialogue each State’s fulfillment of human rights obligations.  Representatives of fifteen States under Review (“SuR”: Saudi Arabia, Senegal, China, Nigeria, Mexico, Mauritius, Jordan, Malaysia, the Central African Republic, Monaco, Belize, Chad, Israel, the Congo and Malta) presented their national reports on human rights.  Following these national reports and submissions from OHCHR and NGOs, other UN member-states took the floor to comment or give recommendations.  Responses from SuRs followed.  The UPR Working Group, composed of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council, then adopted draft reports for each SuR for the 17th session.  Final reports are expected to be adopted in March 2014.

A highlight of the 17th session was Israel’s return to the UPR on October 29, 2013, for its second round of review.  Israel suspended relations with the Human Rights Council in May 2012 and did not attend the January 2013 review session.  Israel’s participation in its review in October 29, resuming cooperation with the Human Rights Council, resolved the fear that Israel’s absence would undermine the universality of the UPR.

The UNHRC held its first UPR Cycle between April 2008 and June 2012, during which it held twelve UPR sessions, reviewing a total of 192 States.  The second UPR Cycle, beginning in 2012, introduced some new modalities, including a focus on steps each SuR took to implement recommendations from the first UPR Cycle and on general human rights developments in each SuR.  In fact, some recommendations made for Israel explicitly refer to follow-up from the first cycle, under the sub-heading of “Follow-up to the UPR”.  Some observers view this as a positive move to highlight the implementation of recommendations and urge a high level of accountability for SuR.

The 18th UPR session is scheduled for January 27 to February 7, 2014. The list of SuRs and a tentative schedule can be found here.

More information about the history, objectives and process of the UPR can be found here.