The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is the only universal mechanism, under the United Nations' (UN) Human Rights Council, that reviews the human rights situation in all 193 UN Member States once every four and a half years. The UPR and the Human Rights Council (HRC) were created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251. Since the first UPR session was held at the UN Office in Geneva in April 2008, all UN Member States have been reviewed. Singapore participated in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 6 May 2011.
The second cycle of the UPR began in 2012. 14 UN member States are reviewed at each session of the UPR Working Group which is held thrice a year. Singapore’s second UPR is scheduled on 27 January 2016 during the 24th session of the UPR Working Group from 18-29 January 2016.
Singapore's first UPR
Singapore's first UPR was conducted based on three documents:
1) National Report
A National Report submitted by the Singapore Government on the human rights situation in Singapore. It explains the policies and actions that the Government has adopted to improve the human rights situation in Singapore as well as the challenges and constraints faced.
2) Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report
A report that will be compiled by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups (also known as Special Procedures), human rights treaty bodies and other UN entities on Singapore.
3) Stakeholders' report
A report summarising relevant stakeholders' submissions (including local and international civil society organisations) on Singapore, which will be prepared by the OHCHR.
Report of the Working Group
The Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, established in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007, held its eleventh session from 2 to 13 May 2011. The review of Singapore was held at the 9th meeting on 6 May 2011. The delegation of Singapore was headed by Mr. Ong Keng Yong , Ambassador-at-Large in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs At its 13th meeting held on 10 May 2011, the Working Group adopted the report on Singapore.
Vews on conclusions and/or recommendations, voluntary commitments and replies presented by the State under review.
The Actual Review
During the review, Singapore will appear before the UPR Working Group, which is chaired by the President of the Human Rights Council (HRC). The interagency delegation will be led by Ambassador-at-Large Professor Chan Heng Chee. During the three and a half hour session, Singapore will present its National Report and engage in an interactive dialogue with member and observer states of the HRC. The session will be open to accredited media and civil society organisations (CSOs), which can observe but not participate in the proceedings.
The UPR Working Group Report will consist of two sections:
A list of all recommendations received from other States and Singapore’s response to these recommendations (which will be circulated to all States 48hrs after the UPR); and
A summary of the statements made by States as well as the presentation by Singapore (which will be produced and incorporated into the Report one week after the end of the UPR Working Group session).
The Report (without the summary of the statements by States and presentation by Singapore) will be adopted by the UPR Working Group on 29 January 2016 in a half-hour session.
At a subsequent HRC Plenary Session in June 2016, Singapore, HRC member and observer States as well as CSOs will be allotted time, within a total of one hour, to express their views. The UPR Working Group Report will be formally adopted by the HRC Plenary at the HRC Session and will form the basis for the next review.
All UPR sessions were broadcast live via webcasts on the OHCHR website.
This article was written by Roy Tan.