International Coordinating Committee on NHRIs holds a discussion on treaty bodies and UPR follow-up

From 17 to 19 May 2011, the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) held its 24th General Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. One of the discussions was dedicated to the engagement of NHRIs in treaty bodies and Universal Periodic Review (UPR) follow up, chaired by Ms. Florence Simbiri-Jaoko from the Kenyan National Commission for Human Rights. During this discussion three panels were organised: the first on consultation, the second on reporting and finally the third concerning follow-up of recommendations.

On the topic of consultation, the importance of involving civil society was highlighted. In that sense, the German NHRI shared its experience on training NGOs on reporting and providing them legal assessment. It was also raised by Mr. Kostelka from the International Ombudsman Institute, the importance of NHRI working together with the Ombudsman to get the best results out of the UPR process.

Concerning the second panel, Mrs. Tebourbi, from the OHCHR, pointed out that NHRI and States should work together in the follow up of recommendations as some already did during the submission of the national report. For her, national institutions played a key role in encouraging States to submit midterm reports in order to illustrate the progress of implementation of UPR recommendations and pledges.

Furthermore, in relation to that topic, the German NHRI mentioned that due to resource constraints a good way to draft reports would be to "monitor the State monitoring" of the human rights situation. By doing so they could check whether the government is addressing the correct issues and if marginalized groups are being included.

The last issue discussed was the follow-up of recommendations. Many of the NHRIs participating in the event shared their experience on how States should deal with recommendations:

- Nepal's NHRI drafted together with the OHCHR a roadmap to the government on how to implement the UPR recommendations.

- The Danish Centre for Human Rights was currently working on a publication on the UPR which would include a methodology to implement recommendations and to this end invited other NHRIs to send them ideas and examples of best practices.

- Indian's NHRI presented an independent report and will issue another paper at the next UPR cycle concerning monitoring UPR follow up.

- The Institution in Azerbaijan was able to raise awareness about the process through translation of the recommendations into the native languages of the country.

A topic of concern shared by different speakers was the high number of recommendations received by States. In that sense Kenya and Jordan explained their practice in clustering the recommendations into key issues. Kenya published an outcome charter detailing each actor's responsibility in terms of implementation and Jordan divided the recommendations by level of urgency. Three levels of urgency were defined: 1- Very Urgent: when the same recommendation was mentioned by three different mechanisms (treaty bodies and UPR); 2- Urgent: when it was mentioned twice; 3- Not Urgent: when it was mentioned only once.

Finally, the issue of implementation was also raised by Marianne Lilliebjerg from Amnesty International. She believed the enhanced role acquired by NHRI from the Human Rights Council (HRC) review should be used to address implementation concerns. The two main enhancements are that NHRIs with A status will have a dedicated section in the summary of other stakeholders' information and will be given the floor directly after the State under Review during the adoption at the HRC plenary session.