With only one month of 2015 behind us, many UPR events have already taken place. The first of three UPR sessions of the year was held from 19-30 January and preparations are underway for UPR Info's Pre-sessions 22. We have published a new analysis that reveals a worrying trend at the UPR that could undermine the mechanism. The publication elaborates upon the possible explanations for this trend and provides solutions. In Ethiopia, UPR Info co-hosted an event to maintain the UPR momentum and continue the national dialogue. Last but not least, UPR Info welcomed a new Advisory Board member, Ms. Martine Anstett, the Deputy Director at the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) in charge of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The first UPR of the year
The 21st session of the UPR was held from 19-30 January 2015. The countries reviewed included: Armenia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. All documents related to Session 21 can be found on our website.
The outcomes of the reports were adopted and the states under review had the opportunity to respond to recommendations or defer their responses until the adoption of the reports in the plenary session of the Human Rights Council (in June). Some countries, such as Kenya, have already provided responses to all recommendations received. Countries, such as Turkey and Armenia, have rejected several recommendations due to bilateral disputes with the states making the recommendations. Read more about Turkey’s and Armenia’s responses to recommendations.
As a consequence of budget cuts to the OHCHR, a new procedure for the distribution of the draft UPR Working Group is in effect as of the 21st UPR session. The draft reports are now released in two phases. The first version of the draft report, released 48 hours after the review, includes only the recommendations. The second version is released one week later and includes the recommendations as well as the summary of the statements made during the review. Read more.
Tentative timetables for Session 22 (4-15 May 2015) and Session 23 (2-13 November 2015) are available. Stakeholders who would like to provide information for the 23rd UPR session should submit their reports to OHCHR by 23 March 2015 through the online system.
Pre-sessions for UPR Session 22 (Apply now!)
UPR Info will host pre-session meetings, in preparation for UPR session 22, on 7-10 April 2014 at the Centre International de Conférences Genève. This will be the 10th round of pre-sessions and will feature the following countries:
Andorra, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Panama and the United States. CSOs and NHRIs will have the opportunity to present information to representatives of Permanent Missions in Geneva, briefing several delegations at once.
The deadline to apply for the pre-sessions is 8 February 2015. Stakeholders that are interested in participating should send the application form and all relevant materials, including their UPR submission, to Francesca Piccin at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Sunday, 8 February 2015. We also expect to introduce new features in April - stay tuned!
Low linkage rate threatens the effectiveness of the UPR
One of the strengths of the UPR mechanism is its periodic nature. Undergoing a review every 4.5 years means that human rights stay on the agenda of all 193 UN member states. In the second cycle, the states under review report on their human rights progresses and challenges from the previous cycle, while the recommending states provide recommendations based on the information available. However, if the recommending states do not link their new recommendations to those that they made during the previous cycle, the benefits that periodicity offers – particularly, the ability to build from past discussions and re-enforce recommendations in cases of non-compliance – are undermined. Unfortunately, the current trend is worrying.
UPR Info’s most recent publication, “Starting all over again? An analysis of the links between the 1st and 2nd UPR cycles”, illustrates that less than 20% of the recommendations in the 2nd cycle are linked to the 1st cycle. The analysis provides possible explanations behind this trend, the dangers that such a trend poses, and the best practices for increasing the linkage rates.
Read more about the publication and download it from our website.
Setting the stage for implementation in Ethiopia
Academics, policy makers, NGO practitioners, and government officials came together in Addis Ababa on 5 January 2015 for the meeting entitled “A Platform for Dialogue and Experience Sharing on the Universal Periodic Review: Post-UPR Conference on Ethiopia Accepted Recommendations”. The event included an introduction to the UPR, the relevance of the recommendations received by Ethiopia to the National Human Rights Action Plan, and ways in which all stakeholders can work towards implementation of the recommendations. UPR Info co-hosted the meeting and contributed expertise on the UPR process. Read more.
A new Advisory Board member to guide our strategy
In January 2015, UPR Info welcomed a new member, Ms. Martine Anstett, to its Advisory Board. Ms. Anstett is the Deputy Director at the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) in charge of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Previously, Ms. Anstett has previously worked for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International France and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The UPR Info Advisory Board provides advice and expertise on the activities of the organisation.