Honorable Minister of Justice/ Attorney General,
Excellencies Ambassadors, and distinguished members of the diplomatic corps
Heads of Cooperation and International Organizations
Colleagues Heads of UN Agencies
Representatives from the Ministry of Justice
Colleagues from the One UN Family,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, all protocols observed;
Allow me to begin my brief remarks by my warmest greetings: MWARAMUTSE NEZA! BONJOUR. GOOD MORNING!
It gives me great pleasure and honor to be present here today on the occasion of this high-level breakfast meeting to review the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). I wish to thank the Ministry of Justice for convening this important session with development partners as part of the post 2015 UPR process.
Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen,
We all know the importance of the Universal Periodic Review, which is a unique mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council that emerged from the 2005 UN reform process. The ultimate goal of the UPR is to improve the human rights situation on the ground, in all UN member countries. The UPR is a state-driven process 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 fulfil their human rights obligations.
Since its establishment back in 2006, the UPR has provided an opportunity for all states to engage with their peers in reviewing their progress in fulfilling their international human rights commitments. It is also an opportunity for countries to share best practices on promoting and protecting human rights. In addition, the UPR allows us to demystify human rights principles through discussions and transparent exchange of information. And I think you will all agree that the UPR has proved to be an innovative instrument for change because it enables us to review the progress made by all UN Member States on an equal basis. This is a big departure from the past when human rights issues were considered only relevant to developing countries.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
As you may recall, Rwanda went through the Universal Periodic Review in January 2011, and that process culminated into 67 recommendations being accepted by Rwanda. By November 2015, when Rwanda was reviewed for the 2nd time, 94% of those recommendations were already implemented. I wish to commend the Government of Rwanda not only for this achievement, but also for consistently displaying a high level of political commitment to the UPR process and to fulfilling its human rights commitments.
Along the same lines, I applaud the government for putting in place an implementation framework and mechanism for the UPR, including the UPR work plan, which has no doubt contributed to the high rate of achievement of the recommendations. And let me also thank you, Honourable Minister, for promoting an inclusive UPR process by engaging all stakeholders as I personally witnessed through the last UPR retreat and the meeting we are having today. This reflects the spirit of partnership and also of openness and transparency. I also saw a quote, Honourable Minister, from the statement you made in Geneva during the 2015 UPR review where you said, and I quote: “The reason for engagement is primarily because of the Government’s obligation to ensure that Rwandans enjoy the dignity and respect they are entitled to. The Universal Periodic Review is another tool to assess the Government’s performance on her obligations to Rwandans”. End of quote.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are very thankful to all the non-state actors that have joined the UPR process since the first review. During the last 2015 review, the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) and a Coalition of more than 25 Civil Society Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations prepared their shadow reports for the UPR. Other stakeholders submitted their reports including the One UN in Rwanda which submitted its compilation report. Such reports from non-state actors are critical for the Human Rights Council when making recommendations to countries under review. I trust that next year, the process will attract a lot of interest and many organizations will submit their inputs and reports to enrich the UPR review for Rwanda.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are now almost 4 years since the 2rd UPR review session for Rwanda and only one year before the next UPR review. This is indeed a good time to look back and reflect, but also to look forward and plan taking into account areas we know may need improvement. We do not need to wait on the next UPR recommendations. And this is an open discussion and a good opportunity for us as development partners to not only receive updates on the status of implementation of the existing UPR recommendations, but also to engage in constructive discussion with the government on those areas that may need improvement.
Honourable Minister, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I conclude, I would like to thank again the Ministry of Justice and also UNDP for facilitating this important and timely meeting. And I wish to reiterate the One UN commitment to supporting the Government of Rwanda and other stakeholders in the promotion and protection of human rights in Rwanda. We highly value the good collaboration and partnership we have had with the Government and development partners in this important area of work and do hope this inclusive and collaborative approach will continue.
Allow me to leave you with this short quote from Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on human rights: Quote “When the fundamental principles of human rights are not protected, the center of our institution no longer holds. It is they that promote development that is sustainable; peace that is secure; and lives of dignity.” End quote. As we discuss the issues of the UPR today, let us also understand that “there can be no development without peace, and no lasting peace or sustainable development without respect for human rights and the rule of law’, as rightly said by Former UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson.
With this, I wish you very fruitful discussions.
Thank you very much for your kind attention,