The Kingdom, as the first country in the Arab world, launches the initiative on the Use of Databases to Monitor the Implementation of the Recommendations of International Mechanisms; a step that has been widely acclaimed by the international community.
His Excellency Dr. Alawwad, the President of the Human Rights Commission inaugurated the initiative in a ceremony held in the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh, which was attended by a number of international figures.
Dr. Alawwad, in his speech, conveyed to the audience the greetings of His Majesty the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister. He also like took this opportunity to thank Ms. Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her team in charge of the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Saudi Arabia, represented by the Human Rights Commission, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for the contributions and fruitful cooperation of OHCHR within the framework of this MoU. He also expressed his gratitude to Ms. Fustier for her presence and expressed his appreciation of her wise management and active cooperation in matters of common interest between the Kingdom and the United Nations.
He added, today, we are moving towards another domain and a new horizon for our constructive cooperation, namely the launching of a database containing all the recommendations presented to the Kingdom within the framework of the UN treaty bodies and the two mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, namely the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and Special Procedures. This database has been built according to a state-of-the-art technology commensurate with the move towards achieving the best levels in the field of e-government, which is reflected in the "Kingdom's Vision 2030", one of whose goals is to raise the Kingdom's ranking on the E-Government Index to the top 5 nations.
He continued, the Kingdom is the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to adopt the National Recommendations Tracking Database (NRTD), which can be considered as an extension of the Kingdom's progress in the field of human rights and its endeavor to collaborate with the UN human rights agencies and mechanisms. In this context, I would like to note that the Kingdom is among the thirty-six states committed to reporting to the United Nations treaty bodies out of the 197 UN Member States. All these steps confirm Saudi Arabia's determination to continue fulfilling its obligations in accordance with the human rights conventions to which it has become party. They also highlight the voluntary pledges that the Kingdom has chosen to provide in support of its respective candidacy to the Human Rights Council. Worthy of note is that the Kingdom has held the Council's membership for four terms since its establishment in 2006. Saudi Arabia also stresses its commitment to implementing the recommendations it has approved from among those presented to the Kingdom under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism and the corresponding recommendations made by the mandate holders within the framework of the Special Procedures mechanism of the Human Rights Council.
He also added, it is worth mentioning that approving the use of this database will help the Human Rights Commission to perform its tasks more easily. These tasks mainly include the following: monitoring government agencies to ensure their implementation of their respective human rights conventions to which the Kingdom has become party; preparing annual reports on the human rights situation in the Kingdom; setting policies and programs to raise awareness of human rights and disseminate a culture of human rights, including promoting awareness of the international human rights conventions. The database will be a rich and useful resource for government agencies in carrying out their vital roles in the promotion and protection of human rights at the national level, as well as for civil society institutions that we consider as a strategic and effective partner in this field.
He went on to affirm that the Kingdom has achieved a remarkable development in the field of human rights promotion and protection at the national level. This appears in the issuance and amendment of several laws related to human rights such as the Juveniles Law, which stipulates that persons under the age of 18 at the time of committing a crime may not be sentenced to corporal punishments in Tazir (punishable) offenses, and the Anti-Harassment Law. In addition, a number of institutional mechanisms have been set up, such as the Authority for the Welfare of Persons with Disabilities and the Family Affairs Council. The field of women's rights has received the greatest share of reform and development. Several laws have been amended to ensure the promotion of women's rights; these include the Traffic Law, the Travel Documents Law, the Civil Status Law, the Labor Law and the Social Insurance Law. As a result, women are now allowed to drive, have a passport, and travel abroad on an equal footing with men, in addition to promulgating Supreme Order no. (33322), stipulating that all government bodies do not require a woman to obtain her guardian's permission when providing services to her or completing procedures for her.
He also added; several other reform measures have also been taken in the context of the judiciary and criminal justice, including the establishment of specialized courts to unify judicial procedures and the Justice Training Center to qualify and raise the efficiency of judges and their aides, based on the provisions of the human rights conventions to which the Kingdom has become party. The Kingdom has also taken measures to eliminate corruption in all its forms pursuant to a methodology based on the rule of law and lack of impunity.
Al- Awwad said, in the coming days, we will be working on developing an advanced technical system for human rights indicators at the national level, including descriptive information, statistical data and interactive maps. This system will make it possible to measure progress in human rights promotion and protection in the Kingdom. This database will be part of this creative national project that will combine all the efforts of government agencies and civil society institutions.
He concluded, I would like to affirm that the Kingdom is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and that the leadership of our country, represented by His Majesty the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and HRH the Crown Prince, is greatly and closely concerned with such rights. The developments and reforms that we have achieved in the field of human rights bear witness to their concern.
Ambassador Natalie Faustet, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Saudi Arabia, said; I am pleased to be here with you today to mark the launch of the National Recommendations Tracking Database in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
She added, today, Member States are engaging with international human rights mechanisms on the progress in implementing recommendations to fulfill their human rights commitments. Recommendations have grown in number and scope as new treaties have entered into force and more treaty bodies have been created; as a growing number of Special Procedure mandate holders have been created; and as all Member States are now reviewed on a regular basis by the Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review.
She continued, we understand that the large number of recommendations has made the task of following up on the recommendations a complex process. Therefore, I am happy to see the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia adopting an advanced approach to track recommendations emanating from different international human rights mechanisms. This is certainly a step forward in advancing the link between the sustainable development goals and the promising Saudi vision 2030.
She stated, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the member states that, proudly, do not have overdue reports to the treaty bodies. In addition, hosting the National Recommendations Tracking Database in the Kingdom will support the ongoing reform. This model will also accelerate the process and the work of the national standing committee for reporting.
She affirmed that the UN Resident Coordinator, along with the UN agencies working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is willing to facilitate any needed technical support and will work to advance engagement and cooperation between Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Saudi Human Rights Commission. She invited the Saudi Human Rights Commission to work towards a strong dialogue with UN agencies working in the Kingdom.
Christina Mickey, on behalf of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), expressed her appreciation to the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for organizing this very important workshop on rolling out the National Recommendations Tracking Database, the NRTD.
She said, the 1945 United Nations Charter proclaims that one of the aims of the United Nations is to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
She added; Just exactly one year ago (5 November 2018), Saudi Arabia was considered during the third cycle of the UPR in Geneva and accepted to implement 182 recommendations fully supported and 31 recommendation partially supported by the Kingdom. She outlined Saudi Arabia has received more than 600 recommendations, mainly from the UPR and Treaty Bodies.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by a number of local and international dignitaries, United Nations bodies, and concerned parties.