FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 12, 2006
A joint Statement on behalf of FORUM-ASIA, Asian Legal Resource Centre, International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development, and Ain o Salish Kendra
ASIA: Need for an in-country process for the effectiveness of the universal periodic review of the UN Human Rights Council
First session of the Human Rights Council
Delivered by: The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
On behalf of: Asian Legal Resource Centre, International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID), Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK)
Contact details: Momoko Nomura, email: email@example.com
28 June 2006, Geneva, Switzerland
This statement is made on behalf of FORUM-ASIA, Asian Legal Resource Centre, International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development, and Ain o Salish Kendra.
We, as human rights defenders in Asia, welcome the birth of this new Human Rights Council, which is intended to be ‘results-oriented’ and stronger in the implementation of universal human rights standards. One method of achieving this is through the new Universal Periodic Review mechanism.
While the modalities of the UPR are being worked out, we would like to highlight three core elements that must underline whatever shape the UPR may take:
- Firstly, that it is well-publicised and participatory. We welcome the commitments expressed by Asian governments this morning, such as Indonesia and the Republic of Korea, to include civil society in the UPR process from the outset. In addition, we also propose that national UPR focal points should be appointed within the existing OHCHR or UN field offices, which would empower national civil society actors to submit information directly to the UPR. The establishment of such an in-country system will decentralise the processes from Geneva and create ownership by national NGOs, who are best positioned to monitor governments’ human rights compliance in a sustained manner.
The national focal points could also convene regular consultations with national actors, including NGOs and National Human Rights Institutions, so that the system will be more grassroots-oriented and sustainable in the long-term. This proposal complements the provision in the GA resolution that the review shall be with the full involvement of the country concerned (OP5e), the priority given by the OHCHR to greater country engagement, as well as Action 2 of the Secretary-General’s report, which calls for streamlining human rights within the UN system. We have hereby attached an annex that identifies where such focal points could be based in our region.
- Secondly, when reviewing States, the UPR must examine allegations of violations of the entire spectrum of human rights. This is particularly important in Asia, due to low levels of treaty ratification and limited avenues for redress available to victims. We therefore find that the proposal by Malaysia to restrict the review only to the rights contained in ratified treaties to be too restrictive and contrary to the purposes of the UPR. The review should also examine the progress on political commitments made by States at UN conferences and pledges issued upon submission of candidacies to the Council.
- Finally, the UPR must be able to deliver results. It is vital that the modalities of the UPR are designed and resourced in such a way to ensure States implementation of the outcomes of the review without delay or exception. Without these features, the UPR will be nothing more than a toothless mechanism that means little to human rights victims around the world.
We thank you for your attention.
Table of OHCHR/UN field presence in 24 Asian countries
<?xml:namespace prefix = o />
|Country||OHCHR field presence||UNDP Country Office||OHCHR Southeast Asia Regional Office: City Bangkok)||Others
|<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Afghanistan||P
(UN Assistance Mission, HR Unit)
|Burma||P||Yes||SR on the situation of human rights in Myanmar|
(OHCHR country office)
|Yes||Yes||SRSG on the situation of human rights in Cambodia|
(UNDP liaison office)
(OHCHR country office)
SR on situation of human rights in DPRK
(UN Peace Mission)
P= Ideal position where the national UPR focal point should be based given the OHCHR/UN field presence
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About ALRC The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at local and national levels throughout Asia.