United Kingdom Universal Periodic Review: Opening Statement
Thank you Madam Vice President,
Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, I am pleased to present the formal response of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the 302 recommendations that the United Kingdom Government received from 115 countries during the Fourth Universal Review Periodical, which took place on November 10 of last year.
Let me start by reiterating the UK’s strong commitment to the UPR process. Let me then go on to explain in more detail how we have responded to the recommendations we have received.
Madam Vice President,
The UK is committed to promoting and protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and acting as a force for good in the world. We believe that these principles are the necessary foundations upon which open, stable and prosperous societies thrive and are essential to the functioning of our democracies and to the protection and enforcement of the rights of our citizens.
Furthermore, the UK Government remains fully committed to protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant international human rights treaties. We have ratified seven of the nine core UN human rights treaties and have put in place a combination of policies and legislation to give effect to the rights contained in them.
Furthermore, we are, of course, honored to once again serve as an elected member of the Human Rights Council for the period 2021-2023. We remain a strong supporter of the Council and the mechanisms available to it to strengthen the protection of human rights globally.
And indeed, the UPR is one of those mechanisms. It is a constructive process through which states can learn and assist each other in protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is just as important to clearly acknowledge where progress has been made as it is to highlight areas that can be improved. It is therefore important that these recommendations are made in good faith, with a genuine aim to improve human rights standards globally.
And this is how we approach other countries’ review meetings, and I note that the UK has received positive feedback in previous UPR cycles for our leadership on specific topics, including our commitment to making recommendations to deal with Modern Slavery during the Third Cycle of the UPR and in our commitment to the UPR more broadly, and we call on all States to remain fully committed to the process.
The UPR is indeed a unique and crucial mechanism for sharing best practices and promoting continuous improvement of human rights on the ground, and this can only truly be achieved through the cooperation of like-minded states.
Therefore, the UK remains fully committed to the UPR mechanism, to the UN treaty monitoring system and to the Human Rights Council itself, as well as to the promotion and realization of the full enjoyment of all human rights by all people around the world.
Madam Deputy President, after this introduction, I would like to explain in more detail how the UK has approached its review.
So during our 4th cycle review meeting on 10 November last year, you will recall that our delegation to the Universal Periodic Review was chaired by the Under Secretary of State for Justice in the UK Parliament, Minister Mike Freer MP, who made every effort to answer both. the questions submitted in advance, as well as the recommendations and comments made by the delegations, here in this room, that day.
Other members of our delegation included representatives from the devolved UK administrations in Scotland and Wales, as well as representatives from the UK Office in Northern Ireland, in addition to myself, our Global Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French and other UK government officials. We found the session extremely engaging and listened with interest to the views expressed by other member states during the session.
Following the review meeting, the UK Government reserved its position on the 302 recommendations we received in order to ensure that we can give each of them the full and proper consideration they deserve. As part of this consideration, we carried out substantial consultation with the Scottish and Welsh Governments. Unfortunately, due to the current lack of an Executive in Northern Ireland, it was not possible to engage and therefore provide as comprehensive a response for Northern Ireland as for the rest of the United Kingdom.
We also ensured that National Human Rights Institutions and civil society organizations have the opportunity to give their views to the UK Government as part of this process.
This engagement led to the UK’s responses to the 302 recommendations received. Our response consists of two documents. The first is the standard supplement to the Working Group Report, which refers to recommendations only by number and describes the UK’s position on each of these recommendations. You will note that we have provided a rationale for those that the UK has chosen to partially support.
The second document is also a longer annex to the Working Group Report, which provides further explanation of the UK’s response to some of the recommendations we received.
Madam Vice President,
In total, of the 302 recommendations we have received, the UK has supported 135 recommendations and scored 112. We have also indicated our partial support for the remaining 55 recommendations. In these cases, the UK may support one or more of the recommended actions, but cannot fully support the entire recommendation because either:
1. Does not agree with a part of the recommendation, or
2. Disagrees with the wording or specific intent used by the State that made the recommendation, or
3. Legal or constitutional obstacles prevent the UK Government from fully implementing (or committing to fully implementing) the recommendation, for example where the matter in question relates to a reserved competence of one or more devolved UK administrations United, British Overseas or Crown Territories. addictions.
The rationale for our position on each of these 55 recommendations can be found in the Appendix and Appendix, which the Secretariat has published on the UK UPR website. However, Mr. President, we certainly recognize that, as advised by the Secretariat, you will be obliged to record these 55 recommendations, as outlined in the final Report of the Working Group.
Madam Vice President.
The UK is clear that the UPR is an ongoing process that Member States must engage with throughout the five-year cycle. In 2017, the UK Government made a voluntary commitment to provide the Working Group with a Mid-Term Report in order to update them on our position in relation to all 227 recommendations received during our third meeting of review. We submitted this report in 2020. For this cycle, we commit once again to submit a Mid-Term Report in 2025, to follow up on our response to all 302 recommendations received at this fourth review meeting.
We welcome this opportunity to talk about our ongoing commitment to the UN, the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, our position on the 302 recommendations received in November and our plans for future reporting.
And, as always, we look forward to hearing the views of member states, civil society organizations and National Human Rights Institutions during this adoption meeting.
Let me close my opening remarks at this point.
Thank you, Madam Vice President.
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