Russia rejects concrete recommendations at UN HRC

Russia rejected most of the concrete and substantial recommendations done at the session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday, 20 September in Geneva as the result of the second circle of the Universal Periodic Review.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is one of procedures within the UN human rights framework that sees each state presenting a detailed report on its human rights situation for four years. Each country then accepts or rejects recommendations from other states and voluntary commits to actually implement the recommendations it accepted.

During discussion of Russia’s report at the UN HRC session in April 2013 representatives of other states on numerous occasions pointed out at issues that are “sensitive” for the Russian authorities. First of all, these issues were related to the situation with fundamental rights and freedoms, such as freedom of assembly, association and expression, as well as xenophobia, including homophobia and LGBT discrimination.

Among other recommendations there were demands to drop or amend recent laws, including the “foreign agents” law and ban of “homosexual propaganda”; the Russian delegation was trying to convince their colleagues those laws are in line with international human rights commitments of the Russian Federation.

As the authorities of the country faced serious criticism, they decided to take a time-out until September, instead of taking an immediate decision on recommendations received. As the result, Russia accepted 148 recommendations out of 231, and 15 more were partially accepted. The head of the Russian delegations, Deputy Minister of Justice Georgy Matyushkin tried to present it as a hallmark of “commitment of the Russian Federation to goals and underlying principle of the UPR.” His words were warmly welcomed by delegations of such countries as Cuba, Vietnam, Venezuela, Laos, Uzbekistan, etc. But further comments from representatives of NGOs had a more critical character.

“Unfortunately, Russia rejected most of the concrete and substantial recommendations; those that were accepted have quite broad and general wordings. The authorities refused from concrete commitments to adopt or reject particular pieces of legislation or ratify new international treaties; they rather agreed to ‘cooperate’, ‘activate efforts’, or ‘encourage further steps’,” says Konstantin Baranov, a Board member of the International Youth Human Rights Movement.

Such choice of recommendations clearly deteriorates future monitoring of their implementation and allows the authorities to state during the next reviews that they succeeded in “activating and encouraging” without actually improving the situation.

Russia and international NGOs actively participated in the UPR process from its very beginning; they presented their alternative reports and cooperated with foreign delegations, and they are going to monitor implementation of recommendations and encourage the Russian authorities to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms. An ad-hoc working group will be created by civil society organisations.

Representatives of the International Youth Human Rights Movement, Agora Association and OVD-Info project took part in the UN HRC session as observers.

 

Additional materials

Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review - Russian Federation

Views on conclusions and/or recommendations, voluntary commitments and replies presented by the State under review

 

Additional information and comments:

+79054562412 – Konstantin Baranov,

+79102288449 – Anna Dobrovolskaya

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