In these times of uncertainty we must continue to work together

On Thursday 10th November, UPR Info hosted the event, Ensuring sustainable implementation at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), to launch its newest publication, “The Butterfly Effect: Spreading Good Practices of UPR implementation” in Room XX of the Palais des Nations. Over sixty Permanent Missions and approximately 150 people attended the event co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Switzerland, Costa Rica, Morocco, and the United Kingdom. The panel, chaired by Roland Chauville, UPR Info Executive Director, was composed of delegates from the Permanent Mission of Morocco, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom, represented by H.E. Ambassador Mr. Mohamed Auajjar, H.E. Ms. Elayne G. Whyte Gomez and Mr. Bob Last, respectively as well as Ms. Maria Luisa Silva, Director of the Geneva office at the United Nations Development Programme, Miloon Kothari, UPR Info's President, and Pooja Patel from the International Service for Human Rights. The President of the Human Rights Council (HRC), Mr CHOI Kyonglim and Ms Kate Gilmore, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights took the floor to open the event, and H.E. Ambassador Mr Valentin Zellweger offered the concluding remarks.

This event, marking the end of the 2nd cycle, provided an opportunity to look back at what the UPR has achieved since its inauguration nine years ago. Unanimously, the UPR has been praised as one the most promising mechanism of the HRC and has been commended for its universality. To date, every United Nations member States has been reviewed. In this regard, the president of the HRC affirmed that “the 100% participation means the UPR is true celebration of universality of Human Rights” and also mentioned the important role of civil society’s participation. In this vein, Kate Gilmore affirmed “we trust and depend upon consultation with civil society” and also underlined that “all human rights defenders must be protected when engaging with the UPR, to ensure a safe space and cooperation”. The UPR, as stated by Kate Gilmore, “has proven to be an adaptable vehicle (...) and the success of the UPR can propel us forward”.

Hans Fridlund, author of UPR Info’s publication, explained that it is in this context that UPR Info developed The Butterfly Effect. In his presentation he highlighted that “the lack of funding for CSOs, in particular core funding and financial support for follow-up activities, severely undermine the effectiveness of the UPR (...) As a result, a key actor to the process is obstructed from providing first-hand evidence of the human rights situation on the ground”. In this regard, “the publication clearly demonstrates the need to move beyond promises and to learn from human rights advocates active on the local, domestic and international levels. This way, the butterfly effect created by the UPR can contribute to improving human rights in all corners in the world”.

Following his presentation, the panellists reflected on the challenges faced by the UPR. Undoubtedly, the main challenge for this 3rd cycle will be the implementation of received recommendations. The panellist all agreed on the importance of follow up and that the focus for the 3rd cycle should thus be on these two issues. The president of the HRC, Mr CHOI Kyonglim, highlighted in his opening remarks the importance of implementation, referring to it as “the key word of the 3rd cycle”. This was also echoed by H.E. Mr. Valentin Zellweger who, in his concluding remarks, emphasised the need for States to “put in place mechanisms for follow-up” and “to share their experiences to further strengthen implementation”, as well as on the “key role of civil society especially regarding implementation”. He also affirmed that, as we move towards the third cycle, “a lesson we can learn from the UPR for the future, is that we should not rest on our laurels, we should remember the collective responsibility we have in ensuring its good functioning”.