The meeting of the Human Rights Council was chaired by the President of the Human Rights Council, with the aim to hold transparent and all-inclusive consultations prior to the working group sessions on the modalities of the review.
It is imperative for Norway that the review of the work of the Human Rights Council is open, transparent and inclusive in all its phases. We must build on the practice of the Council, inter alia from the institution building phase, when deciding on the modalities and working methods of this process. The implementation of the Council’s mandate and responsibilities should form the basis for the agenda and programme of work, and the evaluation of the first UPR cycle should be included in the review process. This was underlined in Norway's statement in the meeting. Below, you can read the intervention in its entirety:
Informal meeting on the Review of the Human Rights Council
25 May 2010
Statement by Norway
Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Bente Angell-Hansen
My delegation would like to thank you for your discussion paper on the process and modalities for the review of the HRC. We further welcome the holding of this informal meeting.
We would like to share our views on what we regard as the most important principles and modalities for this process.
Firstly it is imperative that the review process is open, transparent and inclusive in all its phases, thus paving the way for a consensual outcome.
This implies that the program of work, written proposals from all stakeholders as well as summaries from preparatory initiatives are made available in due time before the start of the working group. Easy access to relevant papers and submissions by posting these documents on the extranet is essential.
Secondly, we must build on the practice of the Council when deciding on the modalities and working methods of the review process.
Practice developed by the Council in its institution building phase is of particular relevance in this regard. According to this practice, the President may appoint facilitators as he or she deems necessary and reflecting important topics of discussion. The President may further call on specific expertise to prepare or spark off debates. It is crucial to recall the important participation and contributions of civil society during the institution building phase. When the IB package was negotiated, the different facilitators chose to give the NGOs speaking time at different times during the sessions. They where in general given the floor at least once during each half day meeting.
We believe civil society participation in the review process must be secured in accordance with this practice. Furthermore, it is essential to ensure effective information sharing between the process in Geneva and the one in New York. The facilitators appointed for the GA review should have consultations with the HRC in Geneva, while the President of the HRC should have consultations with the GA.
Thirdly, we must not create new procedural principles or rules that are rigid in nature, with a potential to limit and restrict our work. It is important that we allow for open, flexible and pragmatic exchange of ideas and development of positions, and that the President is confident of the Council’s support in making the necessary preparations for the working group.
In our opinion, there is no need to negotiate working methods or details of the modalities as long as we are loyal to established practice from the institution building phase. The President has our confidence in drafting a road map, including a draft agenda, for the working group of the HRC review. Resolution 12/1 gives in our view the president a clear mandate in this regard.
With regard to the basis for the agenda and programme of work, my delegation is convinced that we should base our agenda on an analysis of the implementation of Council’s mandate and responsibilities. Such an approach can help us focus on areas for improving the functioning of our council.
Any proposal made should pass the test of addressing a need and prove a solution to a problem. An agenda based on the structure of the IB Package runs the risk of opening too many questions and discussions. We clearly need to have focused deliberations, based on topics that we hopefully can agree on in a cooperative and effective manner.
With regard to the question of including the evaluation of the first UPR cycle into the review process, our answer is a clear yes. The UPR is an important part of the work of the Council, and it is logical and without doubt most efficient to discuss the review of the UPR in the context of review of the Council. The review of the UPR should be finalised well in time before the second UPR cycle starts. This will give predictability and a necessary planning horizon for all as we move into the second cycle of this important work.