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France and the institutions protecting and promoting human rights

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHCR)

France actively supports the independence of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHCR), whose mandate includes preventing human rights violations, securing respect for all human rights, promoting international cooperation to protect human rights and integrating human rights in the United Nations system.

Human Rights Council (CDH)

France is an active contributor to the task of strengthening the Human Rights Council, the leading inter-governmental body responsible for promoting and protecting human rights.

France has served two successive terms of office on the Council and maintains a policy of engaging actively with the Council itself and continuing to influence its work through its role as an observer nation. This involves overseeing scrupulous application of Council mechanisms and opposing any attempt to call into question the universality of human rights, thereby ensuring that the Council remains free to continue to promote those rights effectively. Every year, acting alone or in partnership with other States, France tables resolutions within the Council designed to bring the most critical human rights situations to the attention of the international community.

France is a candidate for membership of the Human Rights Council for the 2014-2016 period

Human rights are among the founding values of the French Republic. Respect for human rights is central to the exercise of democracy in France and to our commitment as a member of the European Union, which is why France is standing as a candidate for membership of the Human Rights Council for the 2014-2016 period.

If elected, France undertakes to ensure the promotion and protection of all human rights and to play a key role in combating all forms of discrimination:

Supporting the gradual realisation of the right to education, health, food, safe drinking water and sanitation and promoting the Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

-  Strengthening the international movement in support of respect for women’s rights and the elimination of all forms of violence and discrimination, and ensuring the effective implementation of the resolutions on "Women, Peace and Security".
-  Pursuing its commitment to the rights of the child and combating the use of children in armed conflict.
-  Promoting freedom of opinion and expression and supporting the actions of human rights defenders and of civil society, particularly within the context of peaceful demonstrations.
-  Encouraging States to combat arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearance and continuing to work towards the universal ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
-  Stepping up the fight against impunity and promoting the right to truth and justice, in particular by supporting international criminal justice.
-  Promoting the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and supporting their implementation.
-  Maintaining active and constructive participation in all bodies and mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights, including special procedures, treaty bodies and mechanisms for monitoring or investigating human rights violations worldwide.

Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

This new and unique process, instituted in 2008, provides for a systematic four-yearly review of the human rights record of each UN member State, conducted by other member States.

France was one of the first countries to undergo the first cycle of Universal Periodic Review in 2008. As a result of the process, France made a number of voluntary pledges and has implemented most of the recommendations made. In June 2010, France voluntarily submitted a mid-term report on the status of its implementation of the recommendations, as part of its preparations for the 2nd cycle of the review, which took place on 21 January 2013. France has also pledged to share its UPR experience with other States and to promote the mechanism actively.

Special Procedures

The Human Rights Council has the power to appoint independent human rights experts or Special Rapporteurs with a mandate to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. France is responsible for the creation of a number of HRC Special Procedures: the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

France has extended a standing invitation to United Nations Special Procedures. This was taken up in February 2011 by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, and by the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in December 2011.

3rd Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations

France is a co-sponsor of the three country-specific resolutions on the situation of human rights in Iran, North Korea and Myanmar adopted annually by the General Assembly of the United Nations, and also co-sponsored a resolution on the situation of human rights in Syria, adopted for the first time in 2011.

In the matter of thematic resolutions, France and the Netherlands jointly present a biannual resolution on the elimination of all forms of violence against women. Furthermore, France actively supports the resolution calling on all States to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, the resolution on human rights and extreme poverty, and the resolution presented by the European Union on the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.

Convention committees or treaty bodies

France is party to the eight core international human rights conventions in force. In accordance with the provisions of these conventions, France submits regular reports on their application to the appropriate committees and recognises the competence of such bodies to receive and consider individual petitions from those claiming that their rights have been breached.

Council of Europe

As a member of the Council of Europe, France recognises the competence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to receive petitions from individuals or States alleging violations of the human rights set out in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental freedoms signed on 4 November 1950 by twelve member States of the Council of Europe, including France.

France also welcomes visits by the Council’s independent monitoring bodies such as the Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), which is responsible for paying regular visits to places of detention in Council member States, the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), whose mission is to judge whether States party are in conformity in law and in practice with the provisions of the European Social Charter setting out certain social and economic rights and freedoms, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), responsible for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance in Council of Europe member States, and the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), which monitors proper implementation by States of the Convention of the same name.

Update : March 2013

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All rights reserved - French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development - 2014