The reason WILPF has been so active on the issue of the UPR is because the accountability of ALL Member States for human rights violations is at stake. Israel’s reluctance to participate in its own review is the first of its kind, and the response to this situation will set a precedent for all future UPR sessions.
We therefore see this not as a geostrategic issue, but rather as a matter of human rights accountability, and United Nations principles such as equality. The concern is that this case can set a precedent and, were the review not to take place or to be indefinitely postponed, what a negative message that would send to all other member States that accountability is an option and not an obligation.
For this reason, it was disappointing that during an exchange of views with EU Human Rights experts regarding the upcoming UPR session, the moderators decided to put the issue of the non-attendance of a member to its own UPR review aside, on the grounds that it was a highly political issue.
Even though we understand that decisions are being taken in the capitals and most of the delegates here in Geneva, who were present at the meeting, are not in a position to influence that decision, we find it unfortunate that the human rights experts in contact with the UPR system do not have the capacity to influence a decision that will be so important for the efficiency of this body and that should be based solely on legal considerations.
We, however, thank the EU for convening a meeting for an exchange of views with Civil Society in view of this and every UPR and HRC session and we were glad to hear their shared concern for the accountability and universality of this mechanism. We hope the EU Member States will do their utmost to preserve and guarantee these principles demanded by the UPR mechanism, and vote to hold the UPR session of Israel and every other country, regardless of whether their delegation is present at the review. Only in this manner will an important human rights mechanism and the accountability it aims to uphold be protected.
Furthermore, the legal lacuna that has been identified in this case should be filled with a system that both encourages the non-cooperating Member State to return to the mechanism and that ensures accountability such as WILPF suggests in its UPR campaign and its statement.