Parliamentary engagement in the UPR: where are we?

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organised on Monday 22 June a side event on the role of Parliamentarians at the UPR in the margin of the 29th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). Entitled “The Human Rights Council 2013 panel discussion on Parliaments and the Universal Periodic Review: Two years later, where are we on parliamentary engagement in the process?”, the side event aimed to follow up on the implementation of HRC resolution 26/29 on the contribution of parliaments to the work of the HRC and its UPR and to discuss further opportunities for and challenges to enhanced cooperation between parliaments and the UPR.

The panel included Ms Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Philippe Mahoux, Senator from Belgium and representative of the President of the IPU as well as Ambassadors H.E. Maria Ciobanu, from Romania, H.E. Cecilia Rebong, from the Philippines, H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, from Ecuador, and H.E. Mohamed Auajjar, from Morocco. The panel was chaired by H.E. Mr. Joachim Rücker, Ambassador of Germany and HRC President.

The panellists addressed several aspects of Parliamentary involvement in the UPR, such as contributing to national coordinating mechanisms, approving the national report, being consulted for the acceptation of recommendations and contributing to the implementation of recommendations.

Invited to speak from the floor, Roland Chauville, UPR Info’s Executive Director, highlighted the role of national human rights institutions and civil society organisations at the UPR and their cooperation with Parliaments. Roland notably recalled the role that other stakeholders play in the process and the expertise they bring to human rights work. He then shared ways civil society can support Parliaments, such as raising awareness around the UPR, tying Parliamentary actions to specific UPR recommendations and training Parliamentarians on the UPR process. On the other hand, Parliaments can inform civil society on the progress made in the implementation of recommendations.