[RC's Statement] On the Follow Up Workshop to Zimbabwe’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process

Allow me to begin my remarks by congratulating the Government of Zimbabwe, under the leadership of the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, for successfully undergoing the review process under the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council.

Today marks another important and progressive step in the cycle of the UPR process, whereby the Government of Zimbabwe has once more brought together key stakeholders for the purpose of designing a road map for the implementation of accepted recommendations.  The United Nations Country Team in Zimbabwe commends all of you for your commitment to, and your growing engagement in this process.

Following up and implementation of recommendations is one the most critical steps of the UPR process. The deliberations that are expected to take place in this meeting over the next two days will hopefully translate the accepted recommendations into concrete actions that would then lead to palpable results for the benefit of this country.  When state parties take voluntary follow-up action on recommendations, human rights situations change for the better.

During the UPR review process, participating member countries, made many recommendations following Zimbabwe’s presentation.  As we are all now aware, Zimbabwe has accepted 130 out of the 177 recommendations made.  The organization of this meeting to develop a national action plan to address the challenges raised in the accepted recommendations is indeed a critical step being taken by the Government of Zimbabwe to implement measures and actions toward improving the human rights situation in the country.

Every stakeholder gathered here has a role to play in the successful follow up and implementation of recommendations. Whether you are from the Government, Independent Commissions, the Civil Society, the Private Sector, the UN and any other partner organizations, our constructive engagement in the process would contribute greatly to defining solutions.  Once the national action plan has been developed, each participating stakeholder should then work in a coordinated manner, to capitalize on any on-going efforts to help achieve long lasting results.   

For this to happen, in an effective and efficient manner, I would encourage all of us to continue with the inclusive cooperation and information sharing spirit that have so far characterized the UPR process.  The consultative and participatory nature of this process will further enhance national ownership of the planned actions and encourage stakeholders in working towards a common goal.

The United Nations supports human rights as an end in itself, as well as a means for peace and development.  Along these lines, we take guidance from national development plans such as Zimbabwe’s Medium Term Plan, to support national efforts to achieve the human rights in their entirety -- including civic rights as well economic, social, and cultural rights. There is also merit in drawing inspiration from internationally agreed developmental goals such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the promotion, protection, and fulfilment of human rights.  By pursuing human rights in their entirety, we can aspire to societies and communities that are safer, more resilient, and more productive. 

Accordingly, the Universal Periodic Review, in which Zimbabwe is participating, provides an important opportunity to reflect on progress made in the field of human rights and to also take stock of the challenges the country is facing in order to develop solutions to address these challenges. Many of the accepted recommendations cover all three generations of human rights: civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as group or solidarity rights. This is reflective of the principles of the UN Charter as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At the UNCT, we remain committed to support Zimbabwe in its efforts to implement these recommendations to deepen and increase people’s enjoyment of human rights.  In addition to the technical assistance provided and information sharing by the UNCT during the drafting and submission of the National Report, we will continue to work cohesively and in a coordinated manner to ensure that we provide the most effective support to the implementation of the National Action Plan that will come out of this process. 

I have been informed that Zimbabwe is due for another review in 2016. I am further advised that the Government of Zimbabwe is expected to file a Mid Term Report in 2014 to elaborate on progress. Your work over the next two days would therefore lay the ground work for Zimbabwe’s future actions on the UPR process.

Allow me to conclude by re-iterating the commitment we made at the commencement of this process; that the UN Country Team will remain committed to working with the Government of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders in ensuring Zimbabwe’s constructive participation in the UPR process until the whole cycle is complete.

I am confident that this workshop will outline a range of concrete actions to positively respond to, and implement the recommendations accepted by Zimbabwe and achieve the above. It is my hope, that the collaborative spirit which has brought the process this far will also guide the implementation of its recommendations.

Rest assured that the UN Country Team remains committed to working with the Government of Zimbabwe, Independent Commissions, Civil Society Organisations and other stakeholders in supporting follow up and implementation of recommendations until the next cycle in 2016 and beyond.

Honourable Minister, distinguished guest ladies and gentleman, on this note, I bring my statement to a close and wish us all fruitful deliberations in completing the national UPR action plan.

Thank you.