The fifteenth session of the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group has begun in Geneva, with the session for the Review of United Arab Emirates 2nd national report slated to be held on 28 January.
The UAE is represented in the meetings by a high level delegation headed by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash. The delegation members include representatives from federal and local government entities, civil society and human rights organizations.
The Standing Committee for Universal Periodic Review held a series of meetings with the different stakeholders in preparation for the periodic review. The last meeting was held on 11 October 2012 which saw the committee apprising non-government organizations about the report and published the report's draft in its website for comments by the public.
UAE's 2nd national report comes as a continuation of a working plan initiated by the country after submission of the 1st report. The plan is aimed at adding to the achievements made in the human rights front and maintaining closer interaction with the international practices on human rights.
The report tackles many positive aspects in enhancing the legislative and institutional structure for human rights protection, as well as formulating strategies and policies to boost rights and liberties, to strengthen partnerships with the NGOs, to develop effective programmes for human rights awareness, to build capabilities, to deepen bilateral and multilateral cooperation both regionally and internationally for human rights protection and to highlight the progress made by the country in human rights during the period between 2008 and 2012.
The UN General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, which created the Human Rights Council, mandated the Council to undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States. The review is 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.
The Universal Periodic Review Working Group holds three two-week sessions per year. During each session 16 countries will be reviewed, therefore 48 countries per year.
Attaching a great importance to Universal Periodic Review's outcomes, the UAE created the Standing Committee for Universal Periodic Review which was officially established by a cabinet resolution and tasked with overseeing implementation of the country's obligations for the Human Rights Council following approval of its human rights report. In performing its tasks, the committee follows up implementation of pledges and recommendations and cooperates with government and non-government organizations in spreading awareness about human rights issues. The committee also works with different stakeholders to collect data for the report which was submitted on 22 October 2012 and to be reviewed by 28 January 2013. The committee has 20 members from different government and non-government organization.
The UAE's first report received a very positive feedback by the UPR working group during the interactive session held in December 2008 and after its approval in March 2009 before the Human Rights Council.
In the report, the UAE noted that under its wise leadership, the country made serious efforts to harmonise the laws with the principles of protecting human rights, inherent in the country's traditions and values.
In the UN Human Rights Council's session the UAE made nine voluntary obligations, accepted 36 recommendations and rejected several recommendations that contradict with its beliefs and values. The voluntary obligations and accepted recommendations included matters related to rights of children, women and labour, human rights awareness, national mechanism for human rights, combating human trafficking, development in remote areas, joining international conventions, legislations and enhancing international cooperation in human rights.
Acting on issuing and amending legislations, the Standing Committee has been instrumental in reviewing legislations to be in harmony with the country's obligations in human rights. The legislations to be issued cover children's tights, combating human trafficking and a law for support services.