U.S. Begins Process for Implementing Universal Periodic Review Recommendations

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April 3, 2012

The Department of State (State) announced on March 16, 2012 the first steps the United States will take toward implementing the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations.  State announced the creation of 10 working groups to oversee the implementation, with each group focusing on a different theme from the recommendations, including “Civil Rights and Racial and Ethnic Discrimination” and “National Security.” The U.S. responded to 173 of the 228 recommendations it received from comments submitted by U.S. civil society organizations during the start of the UPR process in 2010. Among them was an appeal to make “fully consistent all domestic anti-terrorism legislations and action with human rights standards,” and to respect “the protection of due process” of those arrested on charges of terrorism.

Comments submitted by the Charity & Security Network in Oct. 2010 called on the U.S. to re-asses national security laws as they apply to the charities and civil society groups. Those comments can be found here.

The working groups will be led by the government agency “with the greatest subject matter expertise” for each theme, and will be “composed of members from other relevant departments and agencies.”  Kelly Landry, from the Delegation of the U.S. to Geneva, Switzerland also stated that the U.S. “will need our civil society partners,  and through this working group process we will reach out to civil society during the coming months and years…continuing the dialogue that was begun in preparation for the review.” No further details on when or how the U.S. will begin outreach to civil society groups for assistance with the working groups has been released.

In an effort to hold the U.S. accountable for implementing the recommendations quickly and effectively, the ACLU released a briefing paper with guidelines for the Obama administration. According to Devon Chaffee, Legislative Counsel for the ACLU, “It is now time for the administration to make good on these promises by implementing tangible reform.” The paper provides specific policy reforms that match up with recommendations, and can be made without waiting for Congressional action.

Established by the UN’s Human Rights Council, the UPR was created as a peer to peer review process in which countries review other countries. The UPR is a three step process that involves reviewing the human rights situation of a member nation, including assessing the extent to which that nation respects their human rights obligations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “voluntary pledges” by the country to follow recommendations made by the Human Rights Council, and an additional review to see if those recommendations have been implemented. More information on the UPR can be found here.