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On the Parliament Participation in the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights
July 07,2017   By:CSHRS

On the Parliament Participation in the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights

ZHU Lijiang*

Abstract: Whether, and if so how, parliaments should participate in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council is emerging. Due to their unique contributions to human rights protection and promotion, parliaments should participate in the process. Furthermore, some parliaments are already involved in this mechanism, including drafting national reports, engaging in interactive dialogues, and the implementation of review recommendations. In the past two rounds of reviews, China’s National People’s Congress has a positive record in this regard, but it should play are more active role in ratifying or acceding to international human rights conventions.

Keywords: parliament ♦Human Rights Council♦Universal Periodic Review ♦ the United Nations

I. The Statement of the Proposal

To ensure the universality, objectivity and non-selectivity of the United Nations in the review of human rights, and to eliminate double standards and politicization, on March 15, 2006, Resolution 2511  was adopted at the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly with 170 votes in favour, four against, and three abstentions. It was also decided to establish the Human Rights Council as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, to replace the Commission on Human Rights2 . It was also decided that the Human Rights Council should ‘‘examine, on a regular and general basis, the implementation of human rights obligations and commitments by each state on the basis of objective and reliable information and to ensure universal and equal treatment and respect for all states."3 What is more, the mechanism of the Universal Periodic Review should be prepared within one year of the first session of the Human Rights Council, which was held in Geneva from June 18 to June 30, 2006. A year later, on June 18, 2007, Resolution No.1 was adopted at the fifth session, entitled “The Institutional Building of the United Nations Human Rights Council”,which established a set of procedures and methods for the functioning of the Human Rights Council. The Universal Periodic Review mechanism was put forward in the first part of the document, setting out the principles, objectives, review cycle arrangements and procedures.4  This marked the successful realization of the mandate of Resolution 251.5 The establishment of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism is the greatest institutional innovation and bright spot in today’s United Nations’ human rights protection mechanism.6  It can be described as the most shining pearl on the crown of the Human Rights Council. Since 2008, the Universal Periodic Review has been successfully operational, and all member States of the United Nations have fulfilled their human rights obligations and commitments. So far, the second round of reviews is nearing its end. All United Nations’ member states have actively participated in the Universal Periodic Review and fulfilled the original intention, demonstrating the strong cohesion, appeal and vitality of this new mechanism.7

The reason why the mechanism has such strong appeal and vitality is closely associated with its inclusiveness andtransparency. Its inclusivenessrelates to the need to ensure the participation of all relevant stakeholders in this mechanism, including non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions.8  It has become a prominent issue and aroused a certain degree of concern, whether parliaments should also be involved in the mechanism and if so how they should participate. In view of the fact that China’s academic circle has not paid enough attention to this issue,9  I believe that it is necessary to outline the latest trends in the mechanism to the Chinese law community.

II. Theories of the Parliamentary Participation in the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism

As a representative organ of a sovereign state, a parliament has a very strong public foundation and it is also a symbol and practice of a democratic society. It usually takes the major responsibility for ratification of legislation, supervision, accountability, and the national budget, all of which are closely linked to the national and international protection of human rights. In a broad sense, a parliament plays an active role in the protection and promotion of human rights. And it can be said that if it works properly, it is a natural human rights institution.10  I believe that the parliament in any country should not only be involved, but can also positively participate in the Universal PeriodicReview mechanism. The former involves the necessity of the participation, while the latter involves the feasibility of participation.

A. Parliaments should participate in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism

It is necessary for parliaments to participate in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, due to their unique advantages in the protection and promotion of human rights and their practical roles as signatories to human rights treaties.

1. A parliament has inherently unique advantages in the protection and promotion of human rights

It may be argued that it would be counterproductive to allow parliamentary participation in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, asinternal divisions may exert a negative impact on the mechanism. That is to say, the Universal Periodic Review mechanism should be conducted in a non-confrontational and non-politicized manner.11 Some even suggest that a parliament should not be involvedin the preparation of national reports, as it will not only weaken the independence of parliament, but also likely delay the preparation of national reports because of the parliamentary factionalism. In addition, during the interactive dialogue of the mechanism, a parliament cannot act as an independent observer. However, I believe that parliaments should participate in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. Human rights issues are not purely technical matters and they often require intense debate and difficult choices. In other words, it is unavoidable that human rights are a political issue. Parliaments accommodate all kinds of political forces, therefore it is conducive for a parliament to have open debates on human rights issues, as this will help achieveconsensus. At the preparatory stage, the mechanism does not specify how a national report should be written. Therefore, the state under review has the authority to establish the drafting process on its own. If the parliament of the country concerned is allowed to participate in the drafting of the report, it can enhance the content of the review by such means as sharing related materials, publishing the state’s national budgets and final accounts, and even identifying people who are involved in serious human rights violations, etc. During the interactive phase, the participation of parliamentary members can not only help to strengthen the democratic composition of delegations, but also better answer any questions that arise. Parliamentary members may also be involved in the preparation of questions and make recommendations when other countries are under review. As observers, they can attend the interactive dialogue as non-voting attendees through non-governmental organizations. In the implementation of the recommendations for the Universal Periodic Review, there is a need for parliament’s positive participation, including the possible ratification of and accession to relevant international human rights conventions or withdrawal from the provisions, the drafting, modification or abolition of laws, and reviewingthe implementation of the present laws.12 A parliament is also an important bridge, platform and window for the general public to understand the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. It can also help the dissemination of commitments and recommendations made by a government during the Universal Periodic Review, which can enhance the overall understanding of the mechanism. In conclusion, in the protection and promotion of human rights, parliamentshave inherent and unique advantages that meanthey should participate and play an important role in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. As for how to display these strengths, it can be studied in depth.13

2. The practice of human rights treaty bodies illustrates that parliaments should participate in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism

Although there are many differences between the human rights treaty bodies and the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, parliamentary participation offers a certain referential significance for the mechanism. In the parliamentary participation in human rights treaty bodies, the practice of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEADW) 14 is particularly noteworthy. In 2008, the committee, at its 49th session, approved a statement, which explained the relationship between the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the parliaments of states.15  The statement was comprised of four parts and a recommendation. Part I deals with the role of the parliament of the state in ratifying the Convention and its Protocols and in withdrawing its reservations. It states that "..."the parliaments play a vital role in ratifying and acceding to the Convention and its Protocols. Since the two have not yet been universally ratified, parliaments are of great importance in encouraging their countries to become parties to the Convention and their Protocols. Likewise, parliaments can also play an important role in withdrawing reservations because of a large number of reservations to the provisions of the Convention.”16  Part II deals with the implementation of parliaments and the Convention, which states, “the parliament and parliamentarians play a crucial role in ensuring the respect for the principles of the Covenant. And of course there is a wide range of powers to manifest the effect.” The parliament can fulfil its traditional role of the oversight on the government, which can ensure that the state fully complies with the provisions of the Convention. The parliament and its members also have the basic responsibility to ensure the integrity and coherence of their legal systems. The parliament can legislate, budget and supervise the government, which makes it play a central role in the implementation of the Convention. The parliament, as the representative organ of a country, embodies the plural values, opinions and interests of the country. In addition, it has special powers to reach out to all the people. This explains the reason "why parliamentarians can play a key role in raising awareness of the Convention and its Protocol among all the people, especially women.”17  Part III deals with the role of parliament in the drafting of the state’s report and the concluding observations of the Executive Committee. It states that "in drafting a report pursuant to Article 18 of the Convention, the state party is not obliged to require its parliament to be involved, for it is the state that assumes the primary responsibility for the drafting of the report. However, since the Convention is binding on all states’ organs, it is advisable for the state parties to include the parliaments when they proceed with the drafting of reports under Article 18 of the Convention, and the implementation of the Convention and the follow-up recommendations. It is strongly encouraged that the state parties shall establish between parliament and the government an appropriate mechanism, which can promote the mutual cooperation. Also, the state parties’ report shall reflect the views of parliament and the parliament shall play a role in the follow-up work after the Committee’s concluding observations. The parliament can supervise states parties’ compliance with the international obligations, which could significantly improve the Executive Committee’s level in implementing the recommendations .18 Part IV deals with the relationship between "the Inter-Parliamentary Union”19  and the Committee. The report concludes with a number of recommendations, including the requirement that state parties should ensure that their parliament and parliamentarians are fully involved in the preparation of the state parties’ report and the full implementation of the Convention and its Protocol. They should inform the members of the parliament of the work of the committee so that they can take it into consideration in legislation. They should inform members of parliament of the related information on a regular basis, and ensure that the government can receive the information about the obligations of the state parties concerned. The report of the state parties contains an initiative by all parliaments to incorporate the provisions of the Convention into their respective laws. Before they participate in the committee’s review, the state parties should organize a delegation, which is comprised of parliamentarians and special advisers in charge of government and parliamentary relations.20  While the statement made by CEDAW is concerned with the relationship between the Convention and the parliaments of the state parties, still many of the above-mentioned are fully applicable in the relationship between the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and parliaments.

B. A parliament may participate in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism

It is not only necessary for a parliament to participate in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, but also feasible. In addition, it has a certain basis in international law. While in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism the parliamentary participation is not explicitly prescribed, one of the principles in the mechanism is ‘‘to ensure that all relevant stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions, participate".21 This is called the principle of inclusion, or the principle of participation. Therefore, ‘‘all relevant stakeholders” should be more than "non-governmental organizations” and  "national human rights institutions". In fact, when drafting the "mechanism", many non-governmental organizations made it clear that states should establish a national point of contact. Their argument is that it’s not only related to the administrative organs of thestate under the review, but also to other national institutions, so people of the state should participate in a comprehensive and transparent manner. They should know all related matters, including non-governmental organizations (whether or not they have consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations), national human rights institutions, parliamentarians, civil society, the media and other non-state actors, who should be involved in every stage of the review from the collection of information to the implementation of the follow-up action.22

Moreover, of after the adoption of the mechanism, the practice also shows that parliaments, the United Nations and the United Nations Human Rights Council have come to realize the importance of parliamentary participation in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, and they have gradually reinforced the participation of parliaments. On December 13, 2010, Resolution 65/123 was adopted at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly, entitled “Cooperation Between the United Nations and Parliaments and Parliamentary Coalitions”. In the Resolution, the United Nations General Assembly encouraged the Inter-Parliamentary Union to make greater contributions to the United Nations human rights treaty bodies and the Human Rights Council, in particular to assist in the Universal Periodic Review and the implementation of their human rights obligations and commitments.23  This was the first time the United Nations encouraged parliaments to assist member states in the Periodic Review mechanism. On May 29, 2012, at the 66th United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 66/261 was adopted, entitled “The Interaction Between the United Nations and National Parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union”. The Resolution aimed to encourage national parliaments to refer to the cooperation between the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Committee on Discrimination against Women and parliaments. Also the Resolution aimed to encourage the contributions of parliaments to the United Nations system of human rights treaty bodies and the Human Rights Council. 24 On March 21, 2013, Resolution 22/15, entitled the “Contribution of Parliaments to the Work of the Human Rights Council and Its Universal Periodic Review”, was adopted at the 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Resolution mandated that a panel discussion about the contribution of parliament to the work of the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review would be held at the 23rd session.25 This was the first time the Human Rights Council had organized such a panel discussion since its establishment. On May 29, 2013, the 23rd session of the Human Rights Council was held as scheduled, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and the representatives of the governments from Antigua and Barbuda, Romania, the Philippines and Spain were invited to speak at the panel discussion. In addition, a number of delegations to the United Nations Office at Geneva sent representatives to the discussion. The participants agreed that parliaments could play an important role in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and participate in its whole process in various stages, from its preparation to the implementation of the recommendations of the universal periodic review. In order to strengthen the parliamentary participation, some speakers also suggested that parliamentarians’ awareness of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism should be strengthened so that they could raise their awareness and understanding of the mechanism. 26 On May 19, 2014, at the 68th session of the UN General Assembly Resolution 68/272 was adopted, which again welcomed the contributions of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the Human Rights Council.27  On June 26, Resolution 26/29 was approved at the 26th Session of the Human Rights Council, entitled “Contribution of Parliaments to the Work of the Human Rights Council and Its Universal Periodic Review”. The Resolution encouraged each state to promote parliamentary participation in all stages of report drafting in accordance with their respective laws. In particular, parliaments as relevant stakeholders are encouraged to participate in implementation of the consultative process and recommendations. And during national and voluntary mid-term reports or during the regular Universal Periodic Review dialogue, each country should report their participation. The state under review is also welcome to encourage parliamentarians to participate in national delegations to the Universal Periodic Review, and to continue this practice where appropriate. 28 Clearly the United Nations and the United Nations Human Rights Council have already considered parliaments as ‘‘relevant stakeholders” in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. Therefore, it is feasible for parliaments to participate in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.

III. The Practice of Parliaments in the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism

In view of the practice of the existing Universal Periodic Review mechanism, parliaments from many countries have already participated in the mechanism in a number of ways, mainly in the following three stages. First, during the preparation of the material prior to the Universal Periodic Review, some parliaments or parliamentarians of the state under review participated in the drafting, hearing or consultation. At present, the majority of the reports of the state under review are drafted by their executive branches (especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Justice), which often contact other administrations, excluding parliaments. For example, the second national report of the United States was led by the US State Department, which contacted 15 government departments and did not contact the US Congress.29  The second national report of the United Kingdom was led by the Ministry of Justice and did not mention any contact with the British Parliament. 30 The second national report of France was led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and there was no mention that it ever contacted the French National Assembly.31  Russia’s second national report was written by the Ministry of Justice, it did not mention any contact with the Russian Duma either. 32 However, some of the states under review communicated or consulted with their parliament at the time of writing their national reports, some parliaments even held hearings. For example, the second national report of Germany was led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but at the time of writing, its draft was placed on the website for public opinions, and further discussed by the Human Rights and Humanitarian Assistance Committee of the German Federal Parliament in December 2012.33  There was also a member of parliament involved when Australia drafted its second national report. A senator from the Australian Federal Parliament took part in the discussion over the draft throughout the process.34  In Brazil, during the preparation for its second national report, the Human Rights Commission affiliated to the Brazilian Federal Congress held an open hearing via the internet, with a debate over the preliminary draft of the second national report submitted to the Human Rights Council. 35 In the preparation of materials prior to the Universal Periodic Review, the parliament or parliamentarians of the state under review may also serve as the stakeholder in some form to submit materials to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). At present, there is no parliament that submits review materials under its own name. However, in very few countries, some of their local autonomous councils have done so. For example, the Swedish Sami Parliament, as a stakeholder, submitted relevant materials to OHCHR when Sweden was under its second review stating that Sami people, as aborigines in Sweden, did not enjoy some of their rights. And this became part of the review materials submitted by Sweden. 36 Relatively more ombudsman in the National Assembly submitted materials in their own name alone, or in the form of a joint submission with national human rights institutions, and these materials were included in the materials submitted by the stakeholders. For example, in the second round of review, the Equal Rights Ombudsman in the Finnish Parliament submitted information independently as a national human rights body. And this information was incorporated into stakeholder’s material.37  When Norway was in the second round of review, three Ombudsmen from the Norwegian Parliament, who were responsible for public administration, equality and anti-discrimination and the rights of children, along with the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights submitted information, which was included in the stakeholder’s material.38

Second, during the interactive dialogue of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, the observer states of the Human Rights Council may participate in the deliberations, in addition to the state’s review writers and human rights councils. And other relevant stakeholders may also attend as a nonvoting delegate. In practice, some members of the parliament act as heads or members of the delegation to participate in the interactive dialogue or the review. According to statistics, in the second round of the Universal Periodic Review, more than 10 percent of delegations contained parliamentary representatives. Specifically, for example, the head of the Pakistani delegation in the first round of review was a parliamentarian from the Pakistani National Assembly, and three of the nine members of the delegation were members of the National Assembly.39  In the Chilean delegation to the second round of review, there were two men and a woman from Chile’s House of Representatives.40

Third, during the implementation of the recommendations of the universal periodic review, some parliaments of the countries under review are playing a very important role. Specific manifestations can be listed as follows: (1) In respect of ratification, accession to human rights treaties and withdrawal of reservations: For example, the Japanese Parliament ratified the Convention on July 23, 2009, in response to the recommendations over the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance made in the first round.41  In addition, the French National Assembly withdrew the statement in 2008, in response to the fact that Mexico and other countries withdrew the declaration of Article 124 in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in the first round of review.42  (2) To formulate, modify or abolish relevant laws:For example, in response to proposals made by the United Kingdom and more than a dozen countries over the protection of aboriginals’ rights to self-determination and the right to consult in the first round of review, the Australian Federal Parliament approved the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Actin 2012, which required the government to cooperate with aborigines in remote areas of the Northern Territory, and to support them by adopting the sustainable and long-term approaches. 43 (3) To supervise the government: For example, in response to Uzbekistan and the Czech Republic’s proposal to strengthen the prevention of torture in the first round of review, in December 2010, the Swedish Parliament decided to allocate more funds to the Parliamentary Ombudsman so as to make it a better national mechanism to prevent torture and perform its duties in Sweden. In July 2011, the Parliamentary Ombudsman set up a dedicated department with the aim of ensuring that no detained person will be subjected to torture.The new department will regularly inspect places of detention in Sweden, submit reports and conduct international cooperation. In response to the proposal by the Netherlands and Russia to strengthen the protection of privacy, the Swedish Parliament requires that the government should submit annual reports on electronic monitoring. 44 (4) Investigation and accountability: For example, in response to Nicaragua’s proposal in the second round of an independent investigation into persons suspected of secret custody led by the United States, the British Government requested the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament to investigate the persons involved, with the results of the investigation to be reported to the British government and Parliament. The investigation is currently under way. 45 Similarly, the Armenian National Assembly established a special committee for the independent investigation into the suppression of opposition demonstrations in the Armenian capital on March 1, 2008, in response to the proposal by the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Spain in the first round. On June 19, a special meeting was held on the proposal of the president to absolve 307 persons in accordance with Article 81.46

IV. Inspiring China

Since the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2007, parliamentary participation has become an attractive issue and received the attention from both the United Nations and parliaments.  In order to make parliaments understand the important role they can play in the mechanism, the governments of the state under review should inform their respective parliaments of the recommendations and commitments. The government of the state under review should also maintain regular communication with its parliament on the Universal PeriodicReview, establish a working mechanism for this and report regularly to its parliament over its participation in the universal periodic review.

The relevant documents about the parliament made by the United Nations and the practice by other national parliaments in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can, to some extent, inspire China to give full play to the role of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in this mechanism. The following is the brief description of China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee in this field.

When China was in the first and the second round of review, a panel led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was established in order to prepare the reports. The panel included nearly 30 legislative, judicial and administrative departments, among which was the NPC Standing Committee Legal Committee. 47 Moreover, there were representatives from the National People’s Congress in the delegation to the first round of the interactive dialogue.48  However, in the second round, there was no representative from the National People’s Congress. In order to implement the recommendations made in the first round of review, the National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee strengthened human rights legislation and formulated six new laws, such as the Intangible Cultural Heritage Act and the Mental Health Law, approved the Eighth Amendment to the Criminal Law, modified the Criminal Procedure Law, Civil Procedure Law, Lawyers Law, Occupational Disease Prevention Law and another 25 laws. 49 On October 22, 2013, the second round of the review was held, where Germany, France, the United States, Sweden, Belgium and other countries recommended that China abolish the system of reeducation through labour.50  On December 28, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress decided to abolish the Law on ReeducationThroughLabour, which had been in effect since 1957. On March 20, 2014, the Chinese representative made special reference to the above-mentioned decision by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress at the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council when China was faced with the review conclusions.51  In addition, Uruguay and other countries also recommended in the second round of the review that China’s family planning policy should be carefully considered. 52 On December 27, 2015, the NPC Standing Committee modified the Population and Family Planning Law. All these indicate that China’s National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee have played an important role in implementing the review recommendations, particularly with regard legislation.

Considering China’s National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee are actively involved in the Universal Periodic Review process, and they participated in the preparation of the national reports, the interactive dialogue, the composition of the delegation and the implementation of the recommendations, it can be said thatChina’s National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee are the most active among the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in participating in the mechanism. This is commendable and worthy of recognition.

At the same time, it should be noted that there are some problems with participation of the National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee in the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. First of all, even though the relevant bodies of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress participated in drafting the national reports, the extent and content of participation is neither clear nor transparent. It is recommended that in the next round of review, China should place the draft of the national report on the website of the National People’s Congress, so as to seek the views of all parties. Second, when China was in the first round of review, the delegation representatives from the National People’s Congress participated. However, in the second round, there were no NPC deputies. In the next round of deliberations, the Chinese delegation should once again include representatives from the National People’s Congress. For example, these representatives can share the research conducted by the National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee on the implementation of certain laws. Moreover, it is advisable that the Chinese delegations should include representatives from the National People’s Congress, not only in the stage of interactive dialogue, but also before the outcome of the Human Rights Council’s review. Finally, the National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee need to further strengthen their work in the implementation of the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review. At present, the National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee focus more on legislation, in terms of the implementation of the recommendations of the universal periodic review. However, in the two reviews held in 2009 and 2013, other states made the most recommendations to China, which are all concerned with the ratification or acceding to a number of international human rights conventions as soon as possible, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the 1990 Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It is also suggested that China should agree to the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Optional Protocol to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is also suggested that China should establish mechanisms to prevent torture, and join the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. In fact, since 2009, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has not yet ratified or acceded to any of the above-mentioned optional protocols. Ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was recommended by five countries in the first round of review. In the second round, up to 27 countries urged China to ratify the Covenant, which has become a more consistent view in the international community, and it’s a problem that China will continue to face until it does so.53  Therefore, there is still a long way to go for the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to approve or accede to the international human rights conventions.

(Translated by LIU Jianbo)

*ZHU Lijiang ( 朱利江 ), associate professor ofthe International Law School, part-time associate professor ofthe Institute for Human Rights, China University of Political Science and Law. This thesis is one of the author’s research findings in the 2011 Youth Project of the National Social ScienceFund of China, entitled “The Universal Periodic Review Mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council” (11CFX068).

1Four countries cast opposing votes: Israel, the Marshall Islands, Palau and the United States. The three countries that abstained were Belarus, Iran and Venezuela. See:

2A/60/PV.72, at page 6.

3A/RES/60/251, on March 15, 2006, valid text, paragraph 1.

4Ibid., paragraph 5, subparagraph 5.

5A/HRC/RES/5/1, on June 18, 2007, Attachment 1(the Universal Periodic Review mechanism).

6The Universal Periodic Review, adopted by the Human Rights Council on June 18, 2007, is the basic framework for the functioning of this mandate. In 2011, at the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Human Rights Council, the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 16/21, entitled “Review of the Work and Operation of the Human Rights Council”(A/HRC/RES/16/21). In the context of the Universal Periodic Review, the Resolution made some adjustments to the mechanism established on June 18, 2007. In addition, the Human Rights Council adopted a number of resolutions on other aspects of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, and the president of the Human Rights Council issued a number of presidential statements relating to this mechanism. Together they constitute the currentUniversal Periodic Review mechanism now in operation and maintain the effective functioning of this mechanism.

7Elvira Dominguez-Redondo, “The Role of the UN in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights”, in An Introduction to Intellectual Human Rights Law, eds. Azizur Rahman Chowdhury and Md. Jahid Hossain Bhuiyan (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 140.

8To date, all members of the United Nations have been reviewed, and no state in absentia. In May 2012, Israel informed the United Nations Human Rights Council that it intended to suspend the cooperation with the Human Rights Council, which sparked an uproar. On January 19, 2013, at its seventh meeting, the Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 101, namely “The State under Review should be in Compliance with the Universal Periodic Review”.
 
9From the point of view of the existing research results, the Chinese academic community is concerned with the involvement of non-governmental organizations in the Universal Periodic Review. For a study of non-governmental organizations’ participation in the Universal Periodic Review, please refer to Chinese law Network, Dai Ruijun, “Participation of Non-Governmental Organizations in the Universal Periodic Review”, accessed December 20, 2016, http://www.Iolaw.org.cn/showArticle.aspx?id=2544; Zhang Xian, “Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations and the United Nations Human Rights Council —Also on the Participation of the China Human Rights Research Forum on the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism”, Human Rights, no. 6 (2013): 42-43.

10United Nations Human Rights Division, Guidelines for the Structure and Functioning of National Institutions for Human Rights, September 28, 1978, Geneva, ST/HR/SER.A/2.

11A/HRC/RES/5/1, on June 18, 2007, Attachment 1(the universal periodic review mechanism), paragraph 3 (g).

12Felix Kirchmeier, “The Role of Parliaments in the Universal Periodic Review”, Dialogue on Globalization, April 2009, no. 2.

13Anders B. Johnsson, “Introductory Remarks on the Panel on the Contributions of Parliaments to the Work of the Council and Its Universal Periodic Review”, on May 29, 2013, Geneva.

14This Committee is established in accordance with Article 17 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, and currently contains 23 experts.

15CEDAW, “Statement on the Relationship of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women with Parliamentarians”, 2008, thereinafter shortened as the Statement. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CEDAW/Statements/Parliamentarians.pdf,accessed December 20, 2016.

16Ibid., paragraph 3.

17Ibid., paragraph 4.

18Ibid., paragraph 5.

19IPU, short for the Inter-parliamentary Union, is the largest international parliamentary body in the world. The Statutes of the IPU were adopted in 1976, with revisions in 1983 and 2013 (to which two modifications were made in 2013). In accordance with the provisions of the Statutes, the Council is an international organization composed of parliaments of sovereign states. Its purpose is to promote peace and cooperation among peoples and to establish solid links between parliamentary institutions. It has meetings with the United NationsGeneral Assembly, the Human Rights Council, the Executive Committee, the Secretariat and the Seventh Secretary of the National Assembly, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. There are currently 167 Contracting States and 10 contacts (mainly regional councils).

20CEDAW, “Statement on the Relationship”, paragraphs 8-11, 13, 16.

21A/HRC/RES/5/1, on June 18, 2007, Attachment 1, paragraph 3 (m).

22Oral Statement By Pax Romana, International Alliance of Women, Forum Asia, International Women’s Rights Action Watch, November 22, 2006.

23A/RES/65/123, on December 13, 2010, valid text, paragraph 7.

24A/RES/66/261, on May 29, 2012, valid text, paragraph 8.

25A/HRC/RES/22/15.

26A/HRC/26/CRP.1.

27A/RES/68/272.

28A/HRC/26/29. On October 1st, 2015, at the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council, Resolution 30/14 was adopted, which decided to convene a panel discussion on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Human Rights Council at the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council, which can assess the contribution of parliaments to the work of the Council and to the universal periodic review and to determine how to further strengthen that contribution. The 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council was held in Geneva in June 2016.

29National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21: United States of America, A/HRC/WG.6/22/USA/1, February13, 2015.

30National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21: United Kingdom, A/HRC/WG.6/13/GBR/1, March 8, 2012.

31National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21: France, A/HRC/WG.6/15/FRA/1, December 4, 2012.

32National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21: Russian Federation, A/HRC/WG.6/16/RUS/1, February 6, 2013.

33National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21: Germany, A/HRC/WG.6/16/DEU/1, February 7, 2013.

34National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21: Australia, A/HRC/WG.6/23/AUS/1, August 7, 2015.

35Juana Kweitel, director of the Conectas of Human Rights Program, made a statement on its contribution to the universal periodic review. The conference was held in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 29, 2013, by the United Nations Human Rights Council. It was on the National Assembly over the work of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the work of the National Council for Human Rights, and the United Nations Human Rights Council.http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13375&LangID=E, accessed December 2016.

36Sametinget-Sametinget/Sami Parliament of Sweden, “Contributions for the Summary of Stakeholder’s Information”, Universal Periodic Review Second Cycle-Sweden-Reference Documents, accessed December 20, 2016, http://www.ohchr.org/CH/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRSEStakeholdersInfoS21.aspx.

37Summary prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15(b) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21: Finland, A/HRC/WG.6/13/FIN/3, March 9, 2012.

38Summary prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15(b) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21: Norway, A/HRC/WG.6/19/NOR/3, January 21, 2014.

39“Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Pakistan”, A/HRC/8/42, June 4, 2008.

40Ibid.

41The report submitted by the government of Japan on the implementation of the first round of the recommendations of the Interim Report, in March 2011, p.2. Japan accepted the first round of consideration on May 9, 2008, A/HRC/8/44. The interim reports of all countries cited below are available on the UNHCR website: http://www.ohch.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRImplementation.aspx, accessed December 20, 2006.

42The interim report submitted by the government of France for the implementation of the second round of deliberations, 2008, p.5. France accepted the first round of consideration on May 14, 2008, A/HRC/8/47. France, in its approval of the Rome Statute on June 21, 2000, reads as follows: “In accordance with Article 124 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, the French Republic declares that when the offenses set forth in Article 8 are carried out by French nationals or In the case of French territory, France does not accept the court’s jurisdiction over the type of offense set forth in Article 8.” On August 13, 2008, the Government of France, speaking with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and France, decided to withdraw the agreement on the ratification of the Rome Statute, a statement issued on Article 124.

43Interim report submitted by the government of Australia for the implementation of the first round of review, p.25. Australia received its first round of review on January 27, 2011, A/HRC/17/10.

44The interim report submitted by the government of Sweden for the implementation of the first round of recommendations, June 19, 2012, A2012/2841/DISK, pp.27, 38. Sweden accepted the first round of review on May 7, 2010, A/HRC/15/11.

45Interim report submitted by the government of the United Kingdom for the implementation of the second round of recommendations, 2014, p.110. The United Kingdom accepted the second round of consideration on May 24, 2012, A/HRC/21/9.

46Interim report submitted by the government of Armenia for the implementation of the first round of recommendations, 2013, p.24. Armenia accepted the first round of consideration on May 6, 2010, A/HRC/15/9.

47A/HRC/WG.6/4/CHN/1, on November 10, 2008; A/HRC/WG.6/17/CHN/1, on August 5, 2013.

48"Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: China”, A/HRC/11/25, on May 29, 2009. At that time, Huang Taiyun, Deputy Director as a member of delegation from the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Law Committee, attended the interactive dialogue.

49A/HRC/WG.6/17/CHN/1, paragraph 6, on August 5, 2013.

50A/HRC/25/5, paragraphs 186.117, 186.118, 186.127.

51A/HRC/25/2, paragraph 806.

52A/HRC/25/5, paragraph 186.101.

53See Sun Meng, “The Universal Periodic Review Mechanism and China’s Practice: Changes and Challenges”, Politics and Law, no. 3 (2015): 62.