The Human Rights Council (HRC)
The Human Rights Council (HRC) is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.
The Council is made up of 47 UN Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly. The Office of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) serves as the HRC’s Secretariat. The Human Rights Council replaced the former UN Commission on Human Rights.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
The Universal Periodic Review "has great potential to promote and protect human rights in the darkest corners of the world.” – Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General.
The HRC is tasked with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a state-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each state to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.
The UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by Resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a cooperative process which, by October 2011, had reviewed the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The UPR is one of the key elements of the HRC which reminds states of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.
The ultimate goal of UPR is the improvement of the human rights situation in every country with significant consequences for people around the globe. The UPR is designed to prompt, support, and expand the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground. To achieve this, the UPR involves assessing States’ human rights records and addressing human rights violations wherever they occur. The UPR also aims to provide technical assistance to States and enhance their capacity to deal effectively with human rights challenges and to share best practices in the field of human rights among States and other stakeholders.
[Some of Above Text Sourced From: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRmain.aspx]
Samoa and the UPR
Samoa had its first UPR in 2011. For the documents relating to this UPR, including the national report and the outcome document, please see the OHCHR Website. A number of conclusions and recommendations came out of the Review, which the NHRI will seek to assist the government in implementing, including the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and any other human rights treaties. Many countries recommended that Samoa establish a National Human Rights Institution/Commission, which is now in existence, and will be fully operational by the next UPR. Other recommendations by states raised issues relating to gender equality, equality for all people, and non-discrimination in general, prisoner rights, and the minimum ages of marriage and of criminal responsibility. Samoa rejected recommendations relating to the decriminalisation of sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.
Samoa is due to have its next UPR assessed at the 25th session of the HRC, in April-May 2016. The deadline for the submission of the national report is 25 January 2016. The Ombudsman will assist in the drafting of the national report and participate in the UPR process. This may include an assessment of implementation of outcomes from the previous UPR outcome document, broad consultations and interactive dialogue nationally and with OHCHR, and preparing a submission to OHCHR.
For more information on the UPR process, see the OHCHR Website.
Universal Periodic Review