Pre-sessions 30: Enhancing dialogue between stakeholders of the UPR

From 11 to 13 April 2018, UPR Info organised its Pre-sessions ahead of the 30th session of the UPR on the 12 following countries: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Germany, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The civil society platform enabled activists to raise their priority issues in the field of human rights and to provide examples of recommendations to be made by recommending States at the UPR session. Permanent Missions had the opportunity to gather first hand information from grassroots organisations as well as to ask questions about perceived progress since the last UPR cycle.

The objective of the Pre-sessions is to build a constructive dialogue between civil society, National Human Rights Institutions and States. This aim had been widely understood among participants of the Pre-sessions as panellists also recognised progress made as well as challenges faced by their State in the implementation phase. In this spirit, for the first time at Pre-sessions, UPR Info gave to the Permanent Mission of States under Review the opportunity to deliver a two minutes statement at the beginning of the session to present progress achieved by the State since the last cycle.

Another novelty of the Pre-sessions 30 is the launching of a logo dedicated to the Pre-sessions. The aim is to give the Pre-sessions a visual identity and modernize the programme.

On Wednesday evening, UPR Info hold a drink reception hosting permanent missions’ representatives, National Human Rights Institutions and civil society.  This was an occasion to launch the Pre-session’s promotional video and UPR Info’s  latest publication “UPR Mid-term Reporting: Optimising Sustainable Implementation".

H.E. Mr. Julian Braithwaite, Ambassador, Permanent Representative, of the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland welcomed this publication and highlighted the role of mid-term reporting in promoting accountability and action between one review and the next.

Facts and Figures

The Pre-sessions were a great success in terms of local representation and dialogue with states delegates.

Of the 58 CSOs who took the floor at the Pre-sessions, 30 were represented by women, and 39 were national CSOs, including three National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). This round of the Pre-sessions welcomed a total of 68 different Permanent Missions, with approximately 35 percent at each session.

Furthermore, seven States under Review attended the sessions on their own countries, demonstrating a willingness to engage and discuss with national civil society.

Human rights themes

Panellists emphasised the process nature of the UPR cycle which should always be work in progress and should be followed up to have impact on the ground. They added that the UPR is not a political exercise to be done every 5 years.

A broad range of human rights issues have been raised throughout the week, addressing both civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. During the Pre-sessions of Burkina Faso and Cameroun, right to food, women’s rights, torture, ill-treatment and access to health were the most addressed issues. At the Pre-sessions of Djibouti, Azerbaijan, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Cuba, the main areas of concern were freedom of expression, freedom of association, media freedom and enforced disappearances. Civil society expressed concern about indigenous rights and women’s rights at the Pre-sessions of Canada and Bangladesh while racial discrimination and LGBT rights were widely discussed at the Pre-sessions of Germany and Colombia.

Reprisals

UPR Info expresses its concern and disappointment at the actions taken by the Cuban authorities in preventing two of its citizens from participating in the country's UPR Pre-sessions. This movement restrictions undermine the legitimate role of civil society within the UPR process and casts a shadow of intimidation over engagement with international human rights mechanisms. The Pre-session is a platform where civil society organisations present the human rights situation of their country in a view of creating a dialogue with all national stakeholders to improve the human rights situation for all segments of society without discrimination. UPR Info decided to hold the Pre-Session of Cuba despite the absence of two panellists to ensure that the voice of the civil society is heard. UPR Info decided to keep the name plates of the two panellists absent as a symbol of their presence.

Thanks

UPR Info wishes to express its gratitude to all the civil society organisations, national human rights institutions, Recommending States, and States under Review for their strong engagement throughout the Pre-sessions, and further thank Gianni Magazzeni for its opening remarks on Tuesday 10 April. UPR Info also thanks the United Nations for assisting participants to access the venue, as well as special thanks the Permanent Mission of Canada for facilitating the reservation.