Within the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN gave about two hundred recommendations on how to improve the human rights situation. The recommendations were given by 70 countries – members of the UN Human Rights Council during a dialogue in Geneva on November 15.
Thus, Marcus Brand, Head of the UNDP Strategic Development Department, noted that a number of countries mentioned that Ukraine is making progress.
“They understand that Ukraine now is faces difficult circumstances. Nevertheless, many countries recommended to continue moving towards reforms and human rights promotion, namely within the framework of the ratification of international conventions and agreements relating to the human rights protection. They also recommended more reforms in anti-corruption policies, judiciary, and other areas to further improve the human rights situation in Ukraine,” he said.
Tetiana Pechonchik, Head of the Human Rights Information Center, said that this was the third Universal Periodical Review for Ukraine.
“In 2008, our country was given about 40 recommendations. In 2012 – 145. Now it is about 200 recommendations. The increase in recommendations is not related to the deterioration or improvement of the human rights situation. This is more likely to indicate an increased focus on the human rights situation in Ukraine,” she said.
Among other things, the UN member states welcomed the progress made by Ukraine over the past four years, in particular strengthening of the institution of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for human rights, launching of the National Preventive Mechanism, adopting of the new Criminal Procedure Code, the National Human Rights Strategy for 2015-2020, as well as changing the Constitution of Ukraine in the field of justice.
Serhii Petukhov, Deputy Minister of Justice for European Integration, said that the biggest challenge for human rights in Ukraine is the illegal annexation of Crimea and the occupation of Donbas.
“Military actions generate a massive violation of human rights. Any state in this situation faces an increase in the number of human rights violations, and there are new types of violations that did not take place in peacetime. This is the issue of observance of human rights in the occupied territories, rights of internally displaced persons, prevention of torture, observance of norms of international humanitarian law and prevention of sexual violence connected with the conflict”, says Serhii Petukhov.
During the discussion, the countries drew attention, in particular, to the importance of ratifying the Istanbul Convention against domestic violence, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, on the judicial reform and prevention of torture, and prevention of hate speech and discrimination.
In addition, countries of the UN Council on Human Rights have focused on combating corruption, trafficking in humans, ensuring the right to a fair trial and conditions for the free work of the media and civil society.
Mr. Petukhov noted that Russia, Syria, and Venezuela were politicizing the UPR during an interactive dialogue in Geneva.
“A country’s presentation should last 1 minute 40 seconds. Russia did not have enough time to worry about the rights of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, but Syria did. They gave unacceptable recommendations,” said Serhii Petukhov.
The UN member states mentioned the independence of the Ombudsman, but they repeatedly emphasized the strengthening of the institutional capacity of the Ombudsman.
“The Office of the Ombudsman has a huge amount of new powers – monitoring the situation with access to public information, protection of personal data, fight against all forms of discrimination, and monitoring of the observance of gender equality. There are many other obligations… Today, appeals regarding access to public information is measured not by its numbers, but by meters per day,” says Mykhailo Chaplyha, Representative of the Commissioner.
“Today there is a conflict with the appointment because there are two different laws. Representatives of trade unions, human rights activists, non-governmental organizations and mass media should be consulted on the election of the Commissioner in accordance with the Paris Principles, in order to discuss candidatures and to propose them to the election. Unfortunately, this procedure is not provided for in the legislation, and politicians voluntarily do not want to listen to the human rights community,” says Mykhailo Chaplyha.
He also said that within the EU Twinning Project to strengthen the capacity of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, a Bill on the Commissioner is being drafted, which provides for a new procedure for the election of the Ombudsman with the participation of representatives of the human rights community.
Due to the large number of recommendations that Ukraine was given by the UN, it is worth updating the Action Plan on the implementation of the National Human Rights Strategy, argues Ksenia Semiorkina, who monitors the implementation of the National Strategy in the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.
“Thus, we must consolidate all efforts – public authorities, the public, the Office of the Commissioner and the Parliament”, she commented.
Ukraine should voluntarily analyze the country’s comments and implement the number of recommendations that it thinks necessary.
Serhii Petukhov assures that the Ukrainian government will thoroughly review all recommendations and provide its opinion no later than March 2018, before the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council. After 4.5 years, Ukraine will be obliged to report how it complied with the recommendations.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a system of human rights monitoring of the UN Human Rights Council. It seeks to improve the human rights situation in each of the 193 countries of the UN. Within the framework of this initiative, the member states of the United Nations are checking each other for the observance of human rights.
This mechanism was created in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, which also established the Human Rights Council. The resolution states that “the review shall be a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialogue, with the full involvement of the country concerned and with consideration given to its capacity-building needs; such a mechanism shall complement and not duplicate the work of treaty bodies.”
Material of the Human Rights Information Center
Photo by Mykola Myrnyi
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