Strengthening civil society engagement in the UPR to advance freedom of expression

Amnesty & unesco

On the 5th of July, Amnesty International and UNESCO held an event to launch the new guidelines for civil society and a factsheet to foster freedom of expression, access to information and safety of journalists through the UPR. Mona M’Bikay, Executive Director of UPR Info, was invited to moderate the discussion.

Freedom of expression is under threat worldwide. Many recommendations had been issued in this regard through the UPR. For example, in Uganda alone, there were 18 as Edward Serucaca, Advocacy Officer at the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders stated during the event.

Ann Harrison, senior advocate of Amnesty International, pointed out that urgent measures must be taken to protect this fundamental right. The UPR represents an opportunity to work with actors at the national level, CSOs, to create a form of work that allows for a real exchange of information, promote debates and dialogues. Alejandra Umpierrez, Advocacy Adviser, Amnesty Uruguay stressed that the follow-up of the recommendations must become a permanent issue on the national agenda to enable progress in the implementation of the recommendations, establish treaties and measure the impact at the national level.

The guidelines for civil society provide guidance on how to engage with the different stages of the UPR and advise on why and how to include freedom of expression concerns in advocacy efforts. Among the different complementary tools to the guidelines (e.g videos, tutorials), a fact sheet to support the drafting of specific and measurable recommendations was developed in collaboration with UPR Info. This tool provides tips and good practices to formulate UPR recommendations on freedom of expression, safety of journalists and access to information that are easier to monitor and help ensure accountability.

The guidelines will be available in the six official UN languages.