UPR Info participates in the event: "Supporting States, Realizing Rights"


On Thursday 3 November 2022, UPR Info was invited to take the floor (online) during the side event “Supporting States, Realizing Rights”, held in New York. The overlapping context of the upcoming fourth cycle of the UPR and the fifteenth anniversary of the Voluntary Fund for Implementation provided a good opportunity for Member States, United Nations entities and other stakeholders to collectively reflect on the achievements, good practices and lessons learnt from the implementation of UPR recommendations as well as on how the use of the Voluntary Fund could further be optimized in support of developing States.

The event, organized by OHCHR and the Permanent Missions of Morocco, Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Switzerland and South Africa, largely focused on the progresses in the implementation of UPR recommendations by States and in their integration at the country level with the efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A reflection on the Implementation of the UPR Recommendations

“More than 80% of UPR recommendations are linked to the SDGs”, said Mona M’ Bikay, Executive Director of UPR Info.

The UPR has for instance led to the strengthening of national institutions with the establishment of NHRIs and national mechanisms for the prevention of torture. The example of Slovakia was mentioned by UPR Info’s Director, where the Public defender was nominated as the National preventive mechanism, supporting therefore the realization of SDGs 16. Following UPR recommendations, Zambia and Sri Lanka decided to adopt new legislation on child marriage. Canada included a rights-based approach to its housing policy, contributing to SDG 5 and SDG 11.

In the past years, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supported different in-country initiatives o implement UPR recommendations. In Armenia, legislation was amended to prevent torture, including through using improved investigation techniques by the police; in Pakistan the Government adopted its historic Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act in 2018, bringing crucial improvements in the legal status of transgender people in the country.

Although the UPR is widely considered a successful mechanism, the United Nations is responsible of a technical cooperation gap. “We still have not been able to connect the dots. When, for example, UNICEF is carrying out a programme to end childhood malnutrition it is working on the right to food”, said Mr. Federico Villegas President of the Human Rights Council (HRC).  “We have a collective responsibility: what happens in Geneva does not stay in Geneva”.  While States' ownership of the UPR process is a clear strength, other stakeholders, including the private sector, can participate in the process. Villegas mentioned the importance of including the business sector in the process “we need to get the private sector to invest in human rights and feel the ownership of UPR recommendation”. The 200 recommendations accepted on average by each State represent a roadmap for peace, “and we witnessed that there is no peace without human rights and sustainable development” Villegas added.

Supporting States with Tools

The event was also the occasion to showcase available tools to support States and other stakeholders in the implementation of the recommendations emanating from the UPR. Since the start of the third cycle of the UPR, the OHCHR has produced tools to facilitate follow-up to recommendations by States and the integration of recommendations into the United Nations country programming processes. As highlighted in the statement delivered on behalf of Ms. Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, such tools include, among others,  the elaboration of matrices of thematically clustered recommendations, linked to specific SDGs, a “Practical Guidance on maximizing the use of the UPR at the country level” created in cooperation with the UNDP. UNDP and the UN Human Rights Office also worked together to ‘import and export’ good practices across the UN system on maximizing engagement with the UPR. These different examples of UN engagement are featured in a good practices repository.They present excellent examples of how the UPR makes a difference on a range of issues from discrimination, and gender-based violence, to strengthening institutions for better sustainable development outcomes” said Asako Okai, UN Assistant Secretary-General, and Director, UNDP.

“During the 4th UPR cycle, it will be key to continue strengthening the legislative framework, and strong and independent institutions to ensure that the implementation of the UPR recommendations translates into an effective improvement of the human rights situation for all segments of society. It will require a multi-stakeholder approach, capacity building, structural changes, transparency, and accountability,” concluded Mona M’ Bikay, Executive Director of UPR Info.

To read the full statement, click here