The Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the Implementation of the Universal Periodic Review (Voluntary Fund) was established in 2009, and has helped countries fulfil their human rights obligations and commitments. Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 6/17 requested the Secretary-General to establish a Voluntary Fund to help States, in particular least developed countries, implement recommendations emanating from their UPR review.
The terms of reference of the Voluntary Fund allow the financing of briefings prior to the sessions of the Working Group of the UPR to assist countries in the preparatory process. During these briefings, a group discussion normally takes place during which “the policies, procedures, and modalities of the UPR are examined, information is exchanged, good practices shared, and lessons learnt are discussed concerning the organi[s]ation of national consultations, the setting up of inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms, drafting of national reports and participation in the interactive dialogues held by the Working Group and HRC in plenary sessions.” In the context of the OHCHR and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) partnership, a panel discussion was held during the 32nd Session of the HRC in June 2016, to discuss how parliamentarians engagement in the Council, especially the UPR. The discussion elaborated in particular as to how the role of parliamentarians could be strengthened, specifically how the Council’s work could be used by national parliaments to promote and protect human rights.
Since the establishment of the Voluntary Fund in 2009, 13 countries have made financial contributions: Australia, Colombia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. During 2016, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Serbia, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iraq, Mauritania, Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Uruguay benefited from this fund. For the UPR to fulfil its mandate, it is inherent that participation is indeed universal, whereby the resource needs and constraints of all States must be considered. Ensuring the regular, informed, and full participation of States with fewer resources and no representation in Geneva requires regular outreach activities. In this regard, the Fund: (i) provides capacity building to States to prepare a meaningful national report on implementation; and (ii) enables States to meet their commitments by focusing on supporting them to implement key thematic priority recommendations.
As the third UPR cycle has further consolidated the necessity for the implementation of recommendations, it is expected that the demand from States for financial support in order to fulfill their obligations will continue to increase. Therefore, it is important to encourage and secure frequent contributions of donor States to the Voluntary Fund to ensure that State beneficiaries from developing countries have the means, in addition to the will, to implement recommendations.