Myanmar: Kicking-off the UPR follow-up phase with the Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum

UPR Info Asia has been working with the Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum since June 2015, as part of its strategy to support local communities to engage in the UPR process. The aim is to build the capacity of the coalition to ensure local communities are at the center of Myanmar 2nd UPR cycle. The Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum is a coalition of independent civil society organisations (CSOs) with the commitment to engage constructively in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process to improve human rights situations of all people and communities of Burma/Myanmar and border areas.
 
From the development of UPR Advocacy Factsheets, to supporting the Coalition’s lobbying efforts both at the country level and in Geneva during UPR Info’s Pre-sessions, the collaboration between UPR Info Asia and the Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum has demonstrated that saving space for local voices is key to a meaningful and effective UPR reflecting the realities from the ground. Empowered and visible, local communities’ recommendations have been addressed in the UPR recommendations received by the Myanmar Government on 6 November 2015. In total, the Myanmar Government received 281 recommendations from 93 UN Member States: 166 recommendations are accepted and 115 recommendations are noted. As a result, UPR Info Asia and the Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum are working together to effectively kick-off the UPR follow-up phase. From May to August 2016, several activities co-organised by Equality Myanmar, Burma Partnership, UPR info Asia and financially supported by the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), have taken place. More info below! 
 


Two CSO Strategic Workshops on Implementation of UPR recommendations held in Bagan (Myanmar) and Mae Sot (Thailand) – May & June 2016
 
Two CSO Strategy Workshops were held on the Implementation of the UPR recommendations received as a result of Myanmar second UPR. The workshops were designed to provide members of the Coalition with strategic tools and knowledge, to effectively monitor and support the implementation of the recommendations.
 
The first CSO Strategy Workshop held in Bagan, Myanmar, on 31 May-2 June 2016, was facilitated by Aung Myo Min, Executive Director of Equality Myanmar and Co-coordinator of the Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum and Emilie Pradichit, UPR Info Asia Regional Representative. It greatly benefited from the presence of UPR Info’s President, Miloon Kothari, who shared the Indian experience in developing effective UPR monitoring tools to track on the government’s progress in implementing UPR recommendations. Attended by 35 members of the UPR Forum located inside Myanmar, the workshop enabled the development of UPR implementation plans on the following issues; human rights protection and legal reforms, SOGIE rights, human rights defenders, political prisoners, freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of religion and religious minorities, rohingya issues, armed conflict and peace process, child trafficking, gender equality, indigenous peoples’ rights, and the right to health.


The second CSO Strategy Workshop held in Mae Sot, Thailand, on 28-30 June 2016, was facilitated by Khin Ohmar, Coordinator of Burma Partnership and Co-coordinator of the Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum, Aung Khaing Min, Advocacy Officer at Burma Partnership and Emilie Pradichit, UPR Info Asia Regional Representative. Attended by 40 members of the UPR Forum based along the border areas of Thailand-Myanmar, UPR implementation plans were developed on issues related to: torture, impunity, refugees, IDPs, statelessness, ethnic minorities, women and armed conflicts, land rights, right to education, migrant workers and rights of the child.


 

CSO Coalition Building Workshop for the Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum, 20-22 August 2016

Leveraging the two CSO Strategy Workshops previously held, members of the Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum realised that there was a critical need to bring together groups from within Myanmar, and from across the border areas, to ensure their respective UPR implementation plans complemented each other.
 
As a result, a CSO Coalition Building Workshop was held on 20-22 August 2016 in Mae Sot, Thailand, to foster solidarity and discuss strategies for working together as an inclusive and coordinated coalition throughout the UPR follow-up phase. Attended by 90 members of the Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum, the two-day CSO Coalition Building Workshop was the opportunity for UPR Info Asia to share best practices of CSO Coalitions from Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal and Thailand. After meaningful discussions, members of the UPR Forum adopted a Declaration outlining the mandate, vision and membership criteria of the Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum, which upholds the principle of universality of human rights, non-discrimination, non-biased, inclusivity, equality, pluralism, and mutual respect based on but not exclusively to gender and language sensitivities. The Forum stands as a collective voice, in solidarity with marginalised, disenfranchised and especially focused communities to advocate for their needs and concerns. The Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum also agreed to collaborate constructively with the Government, all UN human rights bodies, and all other UPR recommending governments engaged in the Myanmar UPR process. The forum committed to contribute to the effective and successful implementation of the UPR recommendations by the Government, and to monitor and evaluate the Government’s implementation of UPR recommendations to hold the government accountable. Further, the CSO Coalition Building Workshop concluded with the final adoption of an “Outcome Charter” identifying the key priority recommendations to be followed-up by the Burma/Myanmar UPR Forum which will engage with all UPR stakeholders and the UN Human Rights Council to ensure an effective and timely implementation of the UPR recommendations.