UNIPSIL Human Rights Section, OHCHR, HRC and Government of Sierra Leone holds National Conference

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25 Nov 2011

UNIPSIL Human Rights Section, OHCHR, HRC and Government of Sierra Leone holds National Conference

Sierra Leone maps out Strategies to implement UPR recommendations at the UPR National Conference Organized by the Human Rights Commission and the Government of Sierra Leone with the support of UNIPSIL Human Rights Section and OHCHR

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, in collaboration with the office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with support from UNIPSIL/OHCHR held a National Conference to review the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for Sierra Leone on the 14th and 15th of November 2011.

The Conference, with the theme "Developing a roadmap and strategies for the implementation of the UPR recommendations", attracted over 200 participants and was opened by the President of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernst Bai Koroma who delivered the Key Note address. The President expressed continued commitment to the implementation of the recommendations and underlined treaty body reporting, and the review of legislation to comply with human rights standards as recommendations to be implemented urgently. Also present were cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, other personalities in government, civil society, and international development partners. In his statement, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who led the UPR process, highlighted key recommendations and the challenges ahead, and proposed a Mid term review in 2013.

The Conference reviewed the UPR recommendations in 4 different thematic areas: treaty body reporting and interaction with UN human rights mechanisms; constitutional and legal reform; policy formulation and strategies to address women, girls and other rights; and measures and institutional mechanisms, economic, social and cultural rights, poverty eradication. Recommendations were discussed and a link with the implementation of recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was drawn. Participants agreed on priorities, strategies, lead ministries and participating stakeholders. The two days event concluded with the adoption of a Conference Resolution and an outcome report with details of priorities, tasks and responsible actors.

The Universal Periodic Review is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations. The UPR was created by the UN General Assembly resolution 60/251 on 15 March 2006, which established the Human Rights Council itself. The first cycle has concluded in late 2011 and every member state has had its human rights records reviewed.

The final UPR report for Sierra Leone was adopted at the 18th session of the Human Rights Council on the 22nd September 2011 and the UPR process for Sierra Leone had government's and other stakeholder's commitment. It advanced 129 recommendations some of which are either under implementation or already implemented. The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, with support of UNIPSIL Human Rights Section and OHCHR actively participated in the process.

The National Conference at work during one of the sessions

UNIPSIL HRS/ OHCHR will continue to work with the HRCSL to mainstream UPR recommendations in the overall development process of government.