Adoption of UPR outcomes at the 49th Session of the HRC: Some Highlights

Adoption of UPR outcomes at the 49th Session of the HRC: Some Highlights

On the 23rd and 24th of March, the 49th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) saw the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) outcomes from the 39th Session of the Working Group.

During the General Debate, Executive Director of UPR Info, Mona M’bikay, took the floor to call on all UPR stakeholders, Governments, the Judiciary, Parliamentarians, NHRIs and CSOs to focus on the implementation of the UPR recommendations in order to advance the realization of human rights for all. Read the full statement here. 

UPR Adoptions

States that saw their review outcomes adopted are Hungary, Suriname, Samoa, Greece, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Eswatini, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, and Ireland.

During the UPR adoptions, 1808 recommendations were accepted in full of the 2682 in total delivered to States under Review during the 39th Session of the UPR Working Group.

At the consideration of outcomes of the UPR of Hungary, the government was commended on its promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, its combat against human trafficking and intensifying public awareness campaigns against domestic violence. Nevertheless, the session highlighted the lack of measures ensuring independent media and media-regulating bodies and the non-ratification of the Istanbul Convention. Concern was also raised regarding the independence of the judiciary and discrimination against the Roma community. 

The government of Suriname was commended for ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The broad education and health system were also applauded. The country’s progress towards a gender-just and violence-free society was esteemed insufficient. The maternal mortality rate and access to reproductive health services were highlighted as issues. 

Countries commended Samoa for the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and increasing awareness on gender-based violence. However, countries recommended that the government increase the legislative quota for women within the Legislative Assembly and decriminalize same-sex sexual acts. 

Greece was commended, among other things, on its progress with human rights legislation, particularly concerning the rights of the child, including victims of sexual abuse and victims of trafficking, through the adoption of the National Action Plan. During the interactive dialogue, issues regarding the treatment of migrants and minorities were pointed out. Countries recommended that asylum seekers be granted basic rights and for the government to end the criminalization of human rights work.

The commitment of Eswatini to take the necessary measures to implement recommendations, including all partners - civil society and development partners - was appreciated. The efforts to improve access to justice, to combat HIV and to ensure free primary education were commended. Issues highlighted were overcrowding and lengthy pre-trial detention, torture by law enforcement officers, police violence, and extra-judicial killings in police custody

The government of Antigua and Barbuda was commended for leadership in environmental efforts to bring net emissions down to zero by 2050 and mitigating the negative effects of COVID 19. It was recommended that the Government further advance efforts to address gender-based violence, by criminalizing marital rape and ensuring access for women to justice, improve access to education and criminalize torture. 

Trinidad and Tobago was applauded for having incorporated a human rights perspective into the national development process, worked to protect the rights of women, children, persons with disabilities, migrants, and provided housing to low-income groups. Concern remains about gender-based and sexual violence and sexual trafficking. 

The country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is applauded for progress made in the protection of human rights, particularly when it came to efforts to maintain basic services at a constant level. It has reduced poverty despite the global economic crisis and a series of natural disasters. During the interactive dialogue, speakers brought attention to the remaining issue of employment discrimination, income disparity, and lack of political equality for women. 

Papua New Guinea was encouraged to pursue its efforts in the framework of its free education policy and commended for the successful establishment of an Independent Commission against Corruption. The Government was called to end harmful cultural practices that violated the rights of women such as bride price and early and forced marriage.

Tajikistan was commended for its amendments to a series of laws relating to human rights such as the rights of persons with disabilities, increased access to education, and combat human trafficking. The inclusion of domestic violence and sexual harassment as specific offences in the criminal code was also commended. Speakers raised concern over the independence of the judiciary and called on the country to release all human rights defenders or lawyers who had been wrongly detained. 

Speakers applauded the Government of Tanzania for progress made in social development, including the introduction of fee-free primary education and remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, the establishment of the National Commission for Human Rights and steps taken to curb child labor. Nevertheless, speakers noted that the country should ensure accountability for election-related human rights violations and stop weaponizing the law to target the opposition and critical voices. 

The efforts of Thailand to advance social protection for vulnerable groups, including women and children were noted, as were efforts to promote peace and security. Women’s political participation and the increasing presence of women in politics and in the Supreme Court were appreciated, as was the elimination of barriers to their participation. However, speakers note that violence against women is prevalent, and more efforts need to be made to achieve gender equality.

During the consideration of the outcomes of the UPR of Ireland, speakers commended the country for ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; developing a national housing strategy to generate affordable housing; and combating racial discrimination. However, they remained concerned about the increase in attacks, discrimination and harassment against migrants and ethnic minorities because of the lack of effective legislation against discrimination.