Pre-sessions on countries to be reviewed at UPR 21
Almost 50 NGOs presented the human rights situation in 11 countries before the international community during the UPR pre-session held in Geneva from the 2nd to the 4th of December 2014. The meetings were organised in the lead-up to the 21st UPR Working Group session (19-30 January 2015).
The December pre-sessions were once again a success with a high number of diplomats attending them. UPR Info's pre-sessions have become a key step in the framework of the UPR process: they provide a unique platform for dialogue and interaction. This was the ninth round of pre-session meetings that UPR Info has been organising since 2012. Over the course of three years of the meetings more than 470 organisations have already taken part in the pre-sessions, sharing key information from the ground with dozens of diplomats.
In this regard Ms Sofia Leteipan from the Kenya Human Rights Commission said: “...the pre-session was extremely relevant with regard to enhancing NGO participation in the UPR...”
The December pre-sessions demonstrated once again that these meetings constitute an important opportunity to bring together, in a unique forum for dialogue, civil society, NHRIs, and diplomatic missions to discuss the human rights situation of States one month prior to their review. This time the focus of the discussion was on the following States: Armenia, Guinea, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
The pre-session featured presentations by NGO and NHRI representatives followed by a discussion on the status of implementation of the recommendations made during the first UPR cycle. A number of pressing human rights issues were brought to the attention of the diplomats, such as women’s rights, domestic violence and torture in Armenia; freedom of expression, association and FGM in Guinea; transitional justice, indigenous rights and education in Kenya; climate change and right to land in Kiribati; rights of the stateless, freedom of the press and migrants rights in Kuwait; LGBT rights, women’s rights and torture in Kyrgyzstan; enforced disappearances, detention and indigenous rights in Laos; justice for past crimes, social protection and migrant workers in Spain; discrimination, hate crimes and minority rights in Sweden and right to privacy, freedom of religion, belief and women’s rights in Turkey.
The pre-session ensured that key concerns of civil society actors were discussed in preparation of the UPR. Grassroots national organisations and human rights defenders as well as international NGOs, such as PEN International, Article 19, FIDH and Reporters without Borders, provided diplomats with an assessment of the actual human rights situation in the States under Review, highlighting key developments and remaining challenges faced by those States.