Minister Opens Annual DFA NGO Forum on Human Rights10 December 2010
Minister for European Affairs, Mr Dick Roche T.D., today opened the 11th Annual Department of Foreign Affairs-NGO Forum on Human Rights in the Convention Centre Dublin.
Speaking on International Human Rights Day, the Minister reiterated the Government’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. This year’s Forum focuses on Ireland’s examination in October 2011 under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Minister said:
“This year’s Forum marks a departure from previous years. Rather than focusing on a specific theme with headline speakers, the objective this year is to allow civil society an opportunity to articulate its views on Ireland’s examination under the Universal Periodic Review and on the possible content of the national (or government) report which is due to be submitted in July of next year.”
The Minister added:
“Today’s discussions form part of the national consultation process with civil society, in advance of Ireland’s first examination under UPR. The UPR embodies the spirit of cooperation that is at the heart of the Human Rights Council, and its framework ensures the equal treatment of all states. There is nothing quite like the UPR in the whole United Nations system; it was the most significant innovation of the Human Rights Council when the Council was created in 2006, with a mandate to review the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years.”
The Minister also recalled that Ireland has decided to seek election to the UN Human Rights Council for the term 2012-2015, noting that:
“Ireland’s commitment to the UPR process is intrinsically linked to our desire for a strong and effective Human Rights Council. This commitment is such that Ireland has decided to seek election to the Human Rights Council for the period 2012-2015, which will coincide with our Presidency of the European Union in 2013. As the main human rights body of the UN, the Human Rights Council is the primary international forum to advance the promotion and protection of human rights.”
The NGO Forum on Human Rights was established by the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1998 to allow discussion on a wide range of human rights issues with the emphasis on foreign policy. It is an annual event which acts as a vital link between the Department and all those active in the field of human rights. The 11th Annual Forum is taking place in the Convention Centre Dublin on Friday, 10 December 2010.
The 11th Annual Forum has as its theme: ‘Ireland’s examination under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council on 6 October 2011’. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is one of the major innovations of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (established in 2006 to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights), whereby the domestic human rights records of all 192 UN Member States are reviewed every four years. 48 countries are reviewed each year, starting in 2008, with 16 reviews taking place in each of the thrice yearly UPR Working Group sessions. Ireland will be one of the last 16 states to be reviewed. Ireland’s first review under UPR will take place on 6 October 2011.
The Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs will coordinate preparations for Ireland’s UPR examination in 2011. The Government will need to submit a National Report on its domestic human rights situation by 4 July 2011, to be used as a basis for the Review (max 20 pages). The Government is also required to hold a broad consultation process at the national level with all relevant stakeholders in preparation of the National Report. This year’s DFA-NGO Forum on Human Rights will form part of the national consultation process with civil society.
Further information on the Forum and the UPR process can be accessed on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs: http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=317
10 December 2010