International humanitarian law in the universal periodic review of the UN Human Rights Council : an empirical survey
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Journal of international humanitarian legal studies, Vol. 5, issue 1-2, 2014, p. 186-212
In 2006 the UN General Assembly established the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The functions and procedures of the UPR were mainly elaborated in Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, adopted on 18 June 2007. The section of the latter resolution describing the basis upon which States’ compliance with human rights obligations and commitments is to be assessed includes a reference to international humanitarian law (IHL). However, IHL is mentioned separately from other bases of review in paragraph 2, and there is debate about whether or not IHL constitutes a basis of review, properly speaking. Nevertheless, the inclusion itself is a positive contribution to IHL in that it incorporated IHL among the standards of reference for the UPR mechanism. An empirical survey of reviews carried out to date shows that States’ compliance with their respective IHL obligations have been reviewed in this mechanism, and that those States which were actively opposed to the reference to IHL as basis of review before the adoption of Resolution 5/1 have been shifting to actively make recommendations to other States on the observance of IHL obligations. This demonstrates that IHL has been widely accepted as a basis of review, and that the UPR mechanism has become the only State reporting system in the implementation of IHL.