Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Hosts Regional Workshop on the Universal Periodic Review in BarbadosJul 13, 2015
In accordance with the Human Rights Council resolution 5/1, all states have the obligation to submit a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) every four and a half years. The aim of the UPR is to improve the Human Rights situation of a country by meeting the obligations and commitments made by nations, while assessing the developments and challenges faced by these nations. The review enables countries to enter into dialogue regarding recommendations and best practices.
All UN Member States completed the first cycle UPR by 2012, and the second cycle will be concluded by October 2016. In advance of this deadline, the OHCHR arranged a three-day workshop for government officials from all English-speaking Caribbean States and Suriname from July 7-9, 2015, in Bridgetown, Barbados. Highlighting the importance of the UPR, the workshop intended to prepare states for their second cycle UPRs by sharing best practices of effective implementation, reporting new developments, and following up on the recommendations received in the first review. Furthermore, the workshop sought to strengthen the nations’ understanding of the UPR, providing recommendations and insights into how states can harness third-party support in order to facilitate a more successful second cycle of UPR and midterm review submissions.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the UPR Voluntary Trust Fund, which sponsored the workshop in Barbados, as well as to the Government of Barbados for facilitating the logistical aspects of the workshop.
The Honorable Senator Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Barbados opened the UPR Workshop with a call to arms. Her speech encouraged Caribbean countries to seize this opportunity to actively engage with the UPR because it will enhance and improve the architecture of human rights in the Caribbean. She explained that Barbados has gone through two UPR cycles and has done the following:
“Committed to a human rights approach to development, to the principals of good governance, the rule of law, and ensuring that our people have the highest level of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, despite the constraints that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face (which have made the implementation of some recommendations difficult due to a lack of funds).”
Mr. Stephen O’Malley, United Nations Resident Coordinator, welcomed participants of the UPR workshop and spoke to the successes of Trinidad and Tobago, which has set an excellent example for the rest of the Caribbean by submitting in a mid-term report to the UPR. Furthermore, Mr. O’Malley explained that countries’ first reviews have proven that the UPR can act as a catalyst for positive social change.
Countries participating in the workshop included: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.