[UPR Trax] No 55: Civil Society reaffirmed as key stakeholder in the UPR process

June saw a flurry of activity for UPR Info, with many exciting internal and external activities taking place in Geneva and elsewhere. The 29th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC29) included the plenary adoptions of the UPR Working Group reports for the States reviewed at the 21st session of the UPR. As well as making an oral statement at the HRC plenary session, UPR Info also participated in several side events throughout the month. On the international front, UPR Info ran three training workshops in Mongolia, Namibia and Malawi, sharing various elements of the UPR process with multistakeholder participants. Finally, UPR Info is pleased to announce the opening of two new regional offices in Bangkok, Thailand and Nairobi, Kenya!
 

HRC President voices concern over attacks on human rights groups

The 29th session of the HRC (15 June to 3 July) included the adoption of the second-cycle UPR reports on the following countries: Armenia; Grenada; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Guyana; Kenya; Kiribati; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Lesotho; Spain; Sweden; and Turkey. Neither Guinea-Bissau nor Kiribati were present at their own adoptions, joining four other States who were similarly absent during previous sessions.

The General Debate of the UPR mechanism (Item 6) was opened on a sober note by HRC President, Mr. Joachim Rücker, who expressed serious concern over reprisals against civil society human rights groups. The President urged States “to prevent and ensure adequate protection against such acts” and emphasised that “civil society actors [must be] able to cooperate with the human rights mechanisms without fear of any threat.” The statement implicitly refers to a recent situation in the Maldives, regarding the State’s second-cycle UPR. On 16 June 2015, the Supreme Court of the Maldives passed judgment on a written submission by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) – the State’s National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) – which it found to be “unlawful”.                                                                                                                         

During the same meeting, UPR Info Executive Director, Roland Chauville, delivered an oral statement to the Council as a stakeholder intervention. The statement called for improved reporting on implementation of previous recommendations to ensure national and international accountability and transparency. Cooperation and collaboration with civil society was also emphasised as a key element of effective national reporting. The General Debate also served as a platform for multiple interventions by States and other CSOs to discuss means of strengthening the UPR process. The main issues raised were as follows: the UN Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance; the Follow-up to the UPR; quality of recommendations; the role of civil society and human rights defenders; and the role of Parliamentarians in the UPR. Read a summary of the discussion here.
 

UPR Info organises international workshops on UPR engagement

UPR Info ran training sessions on the UPR process in Mongolia, Namibia and Malawi, bringing together participants ranging from civil society organisations (CSOs), government ministers, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), and representatives of international organisations. On 27-29 May, UPR Info collaborated with the Open Society Forum of Mongolia (OSF) to organise a “CSO strategy workshop on implementation of UPR recommendations” in Mongolia. During the three-day workshop, Mongolian CSO members outlined an action strategy to identify advocacy activities to ensure UPR implementation and finally adopted an outcome charter in which CSOs defined the priorities for the implementation of the recommendations. The training in Namibia on 7 June was organised thanks to the support of the Permanent Mission of Namibia in Geneva, in preparation of the State’s UPR in January 2016. The aim of the training was to have all the stakeholders meet and openly discuss the UPR mechanism, paving the way for a fruitful cooperation among the different actors involved in the process. CSO participants were joined by the Ombudsman, and over ten representatives from various government ministries. On 18-20 June, UPR Info partnered with the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), the Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) and CIVICUS to organise a UPR training workshop in Malawi. Over the course of three days CSO participants, including the National Human Rights Commission of Malawi (MHRC), drafted an action plan for monitoring the implementation of recommendations made to Malawi during its second UPR in May 2015.
 

Registration now open for next round of Pre-sessions

UPR Info is organising its eleventh round of Pre-sessions to discuss the human rights situation of the States to be reviewed at the 23rd UPR Working Group session (2-13 November 2015): Australia; Austria; Georgia; Lebanon; Mauritania; Micronesia; Myanmar; Nauru; Nepal; Oman; Rwanda; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; and Sao Tome and Principe. The Pre-sessions will take place in Geneva on 6-9 October 2015. Registration is now open for CSOs and NHRIs who would like to participate and take the floor. The deadline for applications is 15 July 2015.
 

Promoting the progression of ESC rights at the UPR

On 17 June, the Centre for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) and Amnesty International co-hosted a side event in the framework of HRC29, which addressed the issue of how the UPR can strengthen the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs). Based on a sample of eight countries, sourced from UPR Info’s database, research showed that only 18.7% of recommendations made were ESCR-specific, compared to 56% of recommendations on civil and political rights (CPRs). Despite the greater frequency of CPR-related recommendations, panellist speaker and UPR Info President, Miloon Kothari, highlighted that the UPR nevertheless offers opportunities for the promotion of ESCRs through multistakeholder dialogue.
 

Parliamentary engagement in the UPR: where are we?

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organised on 22 June a side event on the role of Parliamentarians at the UPR. Invited to speak from the floor, Roland Chauville, UPR Info’s Executive Director, emphasised the important role of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and CSOs at the UPR, including their cooperation with Parliaments. He then shared ways civil society can support Parliaments, such as raising awareness around the UPR, tying Parliamentary actions to specific UPR recommendations, and training Parliamentarians on the UPR process. Parliaments can also inform civil society on the progress made in the implementation of recommendations.


New regional offices promote UPR abroad

UPR Info has launched its international chapters in Africa and Asia. The office in Bangkok, Thailand, is headed by Emilie Pradichit, who will facilitate mulistakeholder dialogue on the UPR across Asia. She recently provided training to Myanmar activists. Gilbert Onyango is leading the African office in Nairobi, Kenya, coordinating UPR-related activities in the region. UPR Info is delighted to welcome both Emilie and Gilbert to the team. As the interest in the UPR is growing everywhere, we look forward to supporting closer all stakeholders who want to engage.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

I reiterate [...] the importance to preserve the cooperative, inclusive and transparent nature of the UPR, [particularly] the participation of civil society [...] HRC Resolution 16/21 strongly rejects any act of intimidation or reprisal against individuals and groups cooperating with the United Nations [...] [on] human rights. I urge States to prevent and ensure adequate protection against such acts.

President of the HRC, Mr. Joachim Rücker, delivered during HRC29, June 2015

VIDEO

UPR Info Executive Director, Roland Chauville, calls on States to improve reporting on implementation and engagement with NGOs in national reports, during the general debate on the UPR (Item 6) at HRC29

Watch the video

UPCOMING DEADLINES

  • 15 July 2015: Deadline to register for CSO participation at next round of UPR Info Pre-sessions (October 2015)
  • 20 July 2015: Tentative deadline to submit States’ national reports for the 23rd UPR session
  • 22 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 for the 24th UPR session.

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