8 April 2008


This week sees a significant development at the UN with the first group of countries being reviewed on their Human Rights record under the new Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism adopted by the newly formed Human Rights Council.

In this first ever session, sixteen countries will be examined, including the United Kingdom, India, South Africa, Argentina and the Philippines – states in which the Edmund Rice Network has a presence.

The UPR mechanism, by which all of the 192 UN member states will be reviewed every four years, was introduced in part to address a criticism that the UN tended to focus only on the human rights record of particular countries, while others escaped scrutiny.

The UPR mechanism is intended to be "based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States" further"the review shall be a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialogue, with the full involvement of the country concerned."

Each country being reviewed is required to submit its own self-assessment to the reviewing panel and NGO’s such as Edmund Rice International and other interested parties can also raise issues, and suggest questions and recommendations that might be taken up by the panel.

The National reports, together with a compilation of information from other UN sources and a summary of the information provided by other stakeholders (including NGO’s) are available for viewing on the website of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights

Observers will watch with considerable interest to see if the UPR will be an effective means of improving the human rights situation in particular countries.

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