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UN Human Rights Council's UPR process promotes fundamental freedoms

Claire Kaplun [Public Information Officer, UN Human Rights Council]: "The Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council is an innovative mechanism under which each of the United Nations 192 Member States is periodically (once every four years) reviewed. At this occasion, the fulfillment of the concerned country's obligations and commitments in the field of human rights is considered. All issues can be freely and publicly discussed (the whole meeting is webcasted and all written statements are made available on the web).

Iran, together with 15 other States (Qatar, Nicaragua, Italy, El Salvador, Gambia, Bolivia, Fiji, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Angola, Madagascar, Iraq, Slovenia, Egypt and Bosnia and Herzegovina), had its human rights record reviewed at the last UPR session, which took place in Geneva from February 8-19.

The review is based on three documents:
  1. A national report prepared by the State under review
  2. A compilation of United Nations information (mainly reports from the treaty bodies)
  3. A summary of contributions submitted by NGOs, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, academic institutions and research institutes, civil society representatives, etc.
The review itself takes place during a two-week session of the Working Group of the UPR, composed of the 47 Member States of the Council. 16 States are reviewed during each session. After a presentation made by the country under review, any United Nations Member State can take the floor to make a statement, ask questions and make recommendations.

The final report - which consists of recommendations to be implemented primarily by the State concerned - has then to be adopted by the Human Rights Council at one of its regular sessions. States, but also NGOs, can make further comments. Here again, the interactive dialogue is webcasted live and the debate is public.

The subsequent review of States occur no later than four years afterwards and focus, inter alia, on the implementation of the preceding outcome.

Iran has accepted 123 recommendations out of 188. 20 additional recommendations will be examined by Iran which will provide its response no later than the 14th session of the Human Rights Council in June, when the final report will have to be presented to the Council for adoption.

So far, 112 States have had their human rights records examined by the UPR Working Group. In December 2011, when the first four years cycle will reach its end, all United Nations' Member States will have been reviewed once under this mechanism.

The ultimate goal of the Human Rights Council is to promote "universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner," and to make an actual difference on the ground of participating States. In that sense, the Universal Periodic Review is a very positive step.

The next UPR session will be held in Geneva, from May 3-14, 2010."

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