The adoption of a final group of country reports at the Human Rights Council today marks the completion of the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). As of today, every United Nations member state, without exception, has come to Geneva to answer questions on their human rights record, and the Council has adopted a report summarizing each of those proceedings.
Created when the Human Rights Council came into existence in 2006, the UPR is a significant tool for the protection and promotion of human rights. The UPR requires every country in the world to participate in an open dialogue with other UN member states and with civil society on its human rights record.
During the two and a half year cycle that has just concluded, many abusive governments including both the Qadafi and Assad regimes, shamelessly presented fictional accounts of the state of human rights in their countries. These UPR sessions also included forceful criticisms from participating states who spoke the truth in response. The final reports adopted this week by the Human Rights Council document both sides of this exchange, spotlighting who chose to speak out honestly and strongly in defense of human rights, and who did not. Adoption of a UPR report by the Council merely signifies that it has been entered for the record. It in no way constitutes endorsement by the Human Rights Council of any statements in that report.
For Libya, this final UPR session marked the closing of a door on the Qaddafi regime and the opening of a dialogue on human rights with the international community. During the UPR process at this session, the Libyan government accepted many recommendations that were rejected by the Qadafi regime. Most importantly, the adoption of Libya’s UPR records the transitional government’s vocal commitment to improving the human rights situation in Libya.