[UPR Trax] No 54: From one year to another: a look at 2014’s highlights and activities so far

Over the past month, UPR Info has undertaken many exciting activities. Firstly, the pre-sessions took place in April and attracted a high level of attendance with an average of 33 diplomats present over the 3 days. The 22nd session of the Working Group recently ended and saw the review of 14 countries over a two-week period, from Marshall Islands to the United States. In additional news, Miloon Kothari was elected President of UPR Info, and a report was published by the Special Rapporteur on Minority issues reflecting how minority issues have been approached during the first cycle of the UPR. Finally, our annual report has been released summing up a successful year for UPR Info.
 
UN Special Rapporteur publishes comprehensive breaking report on minority issues at the UPR
Based entirely on UPR Info’s database of UPR Recommendations, the report looks into how minorities were raised in the first cycle of the UPR. There were 22 key areas of concern defined, that generated recommendations including – education, ethnicity, human rights and religion.  Fourteen key minority groups were also defined, with less than 25% of all minority recommendations referring to the situation of Roma.  Other groups included Muslims, Afro-descendants, Slovenians, Baha’is, Sinti, non-Muslims, Dalit’s, Travellers, Kurdish, Turkish, Jewish and Pygmy communities. Izsák recommended that Member States make more specific recommendations on this issue, to state when specific concerns are relevant to minority groups so they can appear in the UPR database and can be part of the next surveys, and to better utilise the UN Forum on Minority Issues.

Read more: http://www.upr-info.org/en/news/special-rapporteur-on-minority-publishes-comprehensive-report-on-upr
 
The UPR: An analysis of 2014
In 2014 The UPR mechanism encountered many challenges and debates, ultimately rose to such challenges and continued to evolve and progress accordingly. For the first time, States underlined the lack of implementation of UPR recommendations and noted the importance in addressing this issue which was an important step for the UPR process. The number of mid-term reports increased substantially, highlighting their value as a good tool to evaluate the work carried out thus far. To ensure accountability, recommending States added the phrase “as previously recommended” at the end of the recommendations that were repeated from the last UPR.  The overall number of recommendations made increased, yet in the second cycle the recommendations made were declared to be less specific. The HRC President ruled out joint statements and joint recommendations reiterating to States that all recommendations were “exclusively bilateral.
Read more: http://www.upr-info.org/en/news/year-at-the-upr-analysis-of-2014
 
UPR Info’s Annual Report 2014
2014 was an exciting and successful year for UPR Info. After 4 years, the Follow-up Programme came to an end and Beyond Promises concluded the collection of information on 165 countries and 11,527 UPR recommendations.  Beyond Promises is the first study of its kind which showcases the concrete impact of the UPR mechanism only 7 years after its inception.  2015 will see the inception of a new project, which will build on the outcomes of the previous one.
For the first time, we held a seminar for recommending states in order to better support their engagement with the UPR.  More than 40 Permanent Missions attended the seminar which aimed to increase their engagement in the UPR and support their future work. The Pre-Sessions became an integral part of the UPR process with many CSOs participating and on average 40 Diplomats were present at each meeting.  2014 also saw the team expand, with 2 programme managers joining, bringing the staff to 4 permanent members. Read the full Annual report here .
 
NGOs express enthusiasm for UPR follow activities
On Thursday 16th April 2015, UPR Info held a meeting for Geneva-based NGOs regarding our new project. 25 activists representing more than 17 NGOs came together to discuss how they can collaborate and the possibilities of the UPR on the ground.
This year, UPR Info is unrolling a new project to support national actors at key moments of the UPR process.  After national NGOs come to Geneva to present information to the diplomatic community at the Pre-sessions and after the UPR draws attention to the human rights situation of the state under review, it is important to keep progressing.  UPR Info proposes to do this by 1) hosting a CSO Strategy Workshop shortly after the UPR, 2) organising a CSO-Government dialogue to discuss implementation soon after the adoption of the UPR outcome report at the HRC, and 3) encouraging mid-term reporting and discussion two years after the UPR of a given country.
UPR Info’s project is already underway in Armenia, Kenya, Mongolia, and Malawi.
 
Miloon Kothari, elected President of UPR Info
Miloon Kothari, former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing and currently Visiting Scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was elected President of UPR Info.  He served (from 2000-2008) as the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council.  In recent years, he has been particularly active on issues such as Women’s rights to land, inheritance, property, housing, trade liberalization and its impact on human rights and the UPR.  We are very pleased and honoured that Mr. Kothari accepted to become the second President of UPR Info. He will bring his passion, knowledge and multiple experiences to the organisation and will contribute greatly to its further developments.  Mr. Kothari replaces Bertrand Ramcharan, former Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, who served as President of UPR Info from 2011 to 2014.
 
UPR Recommendations made by the Netherlands
UPR Info provided a presentation to dozens of diplomats of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hague on the 14th April 2015. The Netherlands are the 13th country in terms of number of recommendations made at the UPR and the government is willing to explore room for possible improvements.  Accordingly, UPR Info provided the Dutch MFA with numerous tools and shared data on the UPR. Topics of discussion also included the acceptance of UPR recommendations, their precision and the impact of the UPR on the ground.  UPR Info supports all actors which engage with the UPR mechanism and as such was honoured to share its experience with the Dutch MFA.
Read more: http://www.upr-info.org/en/news/upr-recommendations-made-by-the-netherlands
 
Another successful round of pre-sessions for UPR Info
The UPR pre-sessions were held in Geneva from the 8th-10th April 2015.  The meetings were organised in the lead up to the 22nd UPR Working Group Session (4-15th May 2015).  Approximately 50 NGOs presented the human rights situation in 10 countries before the international community and UPR Info had the honour of having the Vice-President of the HRC, H.E Mr. Aguirre, make the opening remarks on the first day. The pre-sessions were once again a success with an average of 33 diplomats attending over the 3 days.

In a unique forum for dialogue, civil society, NHRIs, and diplomatic missions discussed the human rights situation in Belarus, Croatia, Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, Mongolia and the United States.  A number of important human rights issues were brought to the attention of the diplomats, for example; death penalty, freedom of expression and association in Belarus; LGBT rights and the role of the parliamentarians in the UPR in Croatia; freedom of the press, women’s rights and human rights defenders in Honduras among many others.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

Not only does the UPR help to develop country-specific solutions on the ground, target technical cooperation and focus capacity-building, where needed. It also allows "other actors" – namely, development, peace and security, and regional actors - to draw upon the work of the Human Rights Council.

Opening remarks by H.E Juan Esteban Aguirre Martinez, Vice –President of the Human Rights Council at UPR Info pre-session on the U.S.A., 8 April 2015

VIDEO

Ms. Jean Freedberg from Human Rights Campaign in the United States, tells us why the UPR is important to her

Watch the video

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UPCOMING DEADLINES

  • 25 May 2015: Deadline for NGO written statement submission at the 29th HRC session.
  • 25 May 2015: Deadline for NGO side-event room request at the 29th HRC session.
  • 11 June 2015 - 14h00: Opening of the registration for NGO oral statements at the 29th HRC session.
  • 22 June 2015: Tentative deadline to submit civil society written contributions for the 24th UPR session.
  • 20 July 2015: Tentative deadline to submit States national reports for the 23rd UPR session.
  • 22nd September 2015: Tentative deadline to submit civil society written contributions for the 25th UPR session.
  • 26 October 2015: Tentative deadline to submit States national reports at the 24th UPR session.

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