Universal Periodic Review of European States discussed in Brussels

On 28-29 March 2011, the Regional Office for Europe organized a regional follow-up workshop on the recommendations addressed to European States through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and other human rights mechanisms. Participants of the workshop included representatives of governments, National Human Rights Institutions and Civil Society Organisations of 17 countries in the region, which had been reviewed up to and including the 6th session of the UPR in 2007-2008: Albania, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Switzerland, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the United Kingdom.

Also present were representatives of the European Commission (DG Justice), the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, the Council of Europe and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of OSCE. The Treaty Bodies and the Special Procedures were represented by Dubravka Šimonovic of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Najat Maalla M’Jid Chairperson of the Coordination Committee Special Procedures respectively. Participants were also able to hear the experiences of representatives of other regions (Africa and Asia) on the UPR follow-up.

Some of the issues highlighted during the workshop were the importance of the strengthened and more specific role for NHRI’s for the next cycle of the review; the importance of an inclusive approach at all stages of the review process, with governments consulting with NHRIs and CSOs whenever possible; as well as of States‘ having an implementation plan. The relevance of the EU in supporting implementation of UPR recommendations at a regional level following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon as well as feeding into synergies of other regional organisations such as the Council of Europe were also underlined. In his closing speech, Jan Jařab, the Regional Representative for Europe emphasized the complementarity of the UPR and the expertise of the Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures, stating that: “The UPR should not stand on its own - and it should not overshadow Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures. Quite on the contrary, it should be used to give weight to their expertise.“ The workshop provided an invaluable opportunity to share lessons-learned among participants from Europe as well as from other regions. The common thread that emerged was that the approach to take in the next cycle of the UPR would be to have fewer but smarter, more targetted recommendations. Mr Gianni Magazzeni, Chief of OHCHR’s Branch for the Americas, Europe and Central Asia reiterated OHCHR’s commitment to providing assistance to states in implementing the recommendations of all human rights instruments, including the UPR should it be requested.

7 April 2011

See also