Sweden's UPR performance discussed in Stockholm

On 28th September, UPR Info had the pleasure of visiting the Swedish capital Stockholm to conduct two UPR seminars; the first focused on Sweden as a Recommending State and the second looked at Sweden from the perspective of a State under review. The day was held on the back of the successful result of a similar orientation day in Stockholm organised in 2016. This time, the second seminar proved a much appreciated addition. Hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department for International Law, Human Rights and Treaty Law, the first session brought together 25 participants from six geographical desks and was opened by the head of the department, Gustaf Lind. In his remarks, he underscored the great value that Sweden attaches to the UPR and spotlighted its usefulness as an entry point for bilateral human rights dialogues. He further stressed that for the UPR to remain a relevant tool, States must ensure that the focus of the third cycle is firmly placed on implementation.

After an overview of the modalities of the mechanism, the first seminar addressed Sweden’s performance as a Recommending state. UPR Info highlighted that effective implementation starts with action-oriented, specific and relevant recommendations, a formula that is consistent with the clear majority of Sweden’s UPR recommendations. The importance of limiting each recommendation to one issue and one action was also discussed and participants reviewed some recommendations done by Sweden in the past to see how they could have been phrased in an even more concrete manner. The seminar strongly benefitted from active input from the MFA representatives. Contributions from the floor mentioned that calling for incremental steps may sometimes be more fruitful than directly addressing the actual end goal, and that the desire to complement ongoing efforts in a State under review can have an impact on how a recommendation is formulated. The session also encompassed the critical responsibility to follow-up on recommendations. This segment addressed the specific role of Embassies in formulating advanced questions, phrasing recommendations and follow-up on implementation.

In the afternoon, Sweden’s Ambassador-at-large for Human Rights, Annika Ben David, opened the seminar on Sweden as a State under review. She referred to the pivotal role of the mechanism in increasing respect for universal human rights and acknowledged the high credibility it enjoys among UN Member States. 20 participants from the inter-ministerial human rights committee, which the MFA co-hosts with the Ministry of Culture, took part in the event. Following an overview of the UPR, the presentation looked at which States make the most recommendations, and top issues raised, to Sweden. UPR Info introduced the key building blocks of a National Mechanism for Reporting and Follow-up, the sine qua non for sustainable implementation of recommendations, including the advantages of a public database that tracks implementation of all human rights recommendations that a State receives. Approaches to  reporting were also discussed in light of Sweden's upcoming mid-term report for the second cycle. The seminar also lend itself as a prime opportunity for UPR Info to collect good practices from Sweden’s strategy for implementing recommendations. 

UPR Info supports all actors that engage with the UPR and runs a Government-oriented programme. A seminar on the role of recommending states was organised in Colombo with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier this year. In 2015, UPR Info published A Guide for Recommending States at the UPR