Introduction to the Universal Periodic Review
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) stands as a cornerstone of the Human Rights Council’s efforts to scrutinize and enhance human rights across all 193 UN member states. The UK, a staunch supporter of this process, has actively participated in discussions about every country since the UPR’s inception. The latest session brought under review the human rights situations in 13 countries, ranging from Belize to Senegal, emphasizing the global commitment to fostering human dignity.
Focus on Women’s and Girls’ Rights
Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, in his closing remarks, underscored the UK’s dedication to advancing women’s and girls’ rights. With specific recommendations for countries like Mauritius, the Central African Republic, and Malaysia, the UK’s advocacy for legal reforms and the implementation of national strategies against gender-based violence was clear. The UK’s commitment to gender equality and the eradication of discriminatory practices forms a central theme in its international human rights agenda.
Country-Specific Concerns and Recommendations
China’s Human Rights Challenges
The UK voiced serious concerns about the human rights situation in China, highlighting the suppression of cultural and religious identities, particularly among Uyghurs and Tibetans. Lord Ahmad called for an end to the persecution, arbitrary detention, and widespread surveillance, advocating for the repeal of the National Security Law in Hong Kong and the assurance of an impartial judiciary throughout China.
Mexico’s Leadership and Areas for Improvement
Acknowledged Mexico’s efforts in leading on gender and LGBT+ rights. However, highlighted issues such as corruption, violence against women, and the need for demilitarizing the National Guard. The UK urged Mexico to bolster its mechanisms for protecting journalists and human rights defenders, emphasizing freedom of expression as a fundamental right.
Progress and Expectations for Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s advancements in women’s rights since its last UPR were recognized. Nevertheless, the UK urged further reforms in counter-terrorism legislation and the Specialised Criminal Court’s operations to align with international human rights standards, particularly regarding freedom of expression.
Malta’s Commitment to Human Rights
The UK praised Malta for its strong human rights record, especially in LGBT+ rights, and the government’s efforts to address media freedom and the rule of law in the wake of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder. Lord Ahmad encouraged Malta to persist in its reform agenda and utilize its position on the UNSC to champion women, peace, and security.
A Call for Continued Progress
Lord Ahmad concluded his statement by urging the reviewed countries to consider the UK’s recommendations seriously and to strive for the full realization of human rights. The UK looks forward to the formal adoption of these recommendations at the 56th session of the Human Rights Council, reinforcing its commitment to human rights advocacy on the global stage.