National actors in Mongolia have embraced the UPR mid-term stage to jointly evaluate implementation of 2nd cycle recommendations. In this vein, the Government, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Open Society Foundation Mongolia (OSF), and the Human Rights NGO Forum embarked on a series of activities to reinvigorate the national UPR momentum. The process was initiated in December 2017 when NHRC desk officers from the country’s 21 provinces (aimags) gathered for a capacity building meeting in the Ulaanbaatar. At the event, OSF shared good practices in the organisation of local level UPR consultations and gave further guidance on how to structure such dialogues. This resulted in half-day consultations throughout 19 provinces in February 2018, co-organised by the NHRC and OSF, at which Government officials and civil society representative participated. Provincial government officials constituted most of the attendees in several of the meetings. At each occasion, the NHRC desk officer introduced the Universal Periodic Review, based on materials shared by OSF, after which participants themselves decided which human rights issues they wanted the dialogue to focus on. Across provinces, many chose to evaluate progress in relation to recommendations addressing child rights, rights of people living with disabilities, and domestic violence.
The participatory approach paved the way for productive discussions between key stakeholders on implementation, but also stressed how to utilise the 3rd UPR cycle to address persisting, and emerging, human rights concerns. The vast majority of participants had never been exposed to the peer-review, but, as noted by the organisers, they now began to consider how to how channel information to the mechanism. The NHRC shared the minutes of each meeting with OSF which used them as the baseline for the CSO mid-term report, co-authored with the Human Rights NGO Forum. Moreover, as a result of the consultations, the Chief Commissioner of the NHRC circulated a letter to each provincial governor containing a list of human rights issues which he requested them to prioritise. UPR Info has provided feedback to the structure and content of draft versions of the civil society report, stressing the need to evaluate all recommendations, utilising the traffic light system to assess implementation levels, and presenting key information at a glance using statistics and charts.
Progress reports in the making
Building on the provincial meetings, the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs (MoJHA), Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA), OSF, and the Human Rights NGO Forum implemented four regional consultations (Khovd, Dalanzadgad, Zuunmod, Chinggis) which brought together a broad array of national UPR stakeholders between March and April 2018. At the events, the MFA introduced the UPR process, MoJHA informed about Government actions undertaken to implement UPR recommendations, and the NHRC presented its role as an independent human rights body in the various stages of the UPR. The Human Rights NGO Forum presented the draft mid-term report to participants which had been developed on the back of the consultations in the provinces. Thematic groups, comprised of representatives from CSOs and Government, were formed at each consultation to discuss UPR implementation and the human rights situation in the respective region. Each team presented the outcomes of their discussions in plenary. The Government used the information shared in the break out groups to inform their draft mid-term report.
In April, the Human Rights NGO Forum invited local government representatives from all 21 provinces to Ulaanbaatar to support the finalisation of the CSO mid-term report. A few weeks later, 40 Government officials, 50 CSOs and NHRC representatives, together with observers from UN agencies, the EU Delegation and resident diplomats gathered for a one-day validation meeting of the report. UPR Info opened the meeting by sharing good practices of how to ensure sustainable implementation, and the benefits of a National Mechanism for Reporting and Follow-up to foster multi-stakeholder partnerships. It was followed by plenary presentations from line ministries before the findings of the CSO mid-term report was introduced. This triggered a vibrant dialogue on the underpinning methodology of the report, and the ratings of recommendations as either fully, partially or not implemented. Based on the input collected from the workshop, the report will be updated before the final report is submitted to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Multi-stakeholder body fosters implementation
The Government, in parallel to the consultations, invited civil society organisations to input on its 2nd cycle UPR implementation plan. An Inter-ministerial Working Group, established in 2016 under the auspices of the MoJHA, is tasked with managing the implementation plan. Headed by the Minister of Justice, each ministry is represented by a focal point in the working group. Representatives from civil society and the NHRC are also invited to meetings. The Human Rights NGO Forum was instrumental in the establishment of the body and made recommendations on civil society representatives to be included in its activities. A suggestion from civil society to the working group resulted in the MoJHA establishing a sub-committee lead by a desk officer responsible for facilitating implementation of UPR recommendations, addressing challenges, and liaising with national stakeholders. Additional sub-committees are foreseen under several ministries.
The Inter-ministerial Working Group takes stock of UPR progress at an annual basis. The result of their analysis is presented to the Government which in turn makes recommendations to ministries, departments and agencies on how to move forward with implementation. Furthermore, MoJHA signs an agreement for each calendar year with local level governments which gives guidance on how to follow-up on UPR recommendations.
Mongolia is a priority country of UPR info’s In-country Programme. In this vein, UPR Info has partnered with OSF Mongolia to support inclusive consultations at Mongolia’s UPR mid-term stage involving: civil society coalitions; the National Human Rights Commission; grassroots advocates; Government representatives; and the international diplomatic and donor communities. For more information about activities in Mongolia, visit this page.