[UPR Trax] No 62: Launch of UPR Info Africa offers multi-stakeholder regional support for the UPR

UPR Info’s new Africa Regional Office was formally launched in Nairobi, Kenya, last month. The Africa Office has been working since June 2015, organising several workshops with civil society organisations (CSOs), dialogue-days between CSOs and governments as well as multi-stakeholder training sessions. The Office will play an important role in raising awareness and providing capacity-building tools to the stakeholders involved in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The focus of many of the Office’s activities will be the implementation of UPR recommendations, which is vital in order to realise the ultimate goal of this mechanism: “the improvement of the human rights situation on the ground”.

The 25th Session of the UPR took place from 2 to 13 May 2016 at Palais des Nations, Geneva. Of the 14 States reviewed, Ireland received the highest number of recommendations (262), followed by Thailand (249) and Sudan (244). It was significant to see that during the review of Sudan, many States raised concerns over the action of the Sudanese security agency NISS to confiscate the passports of four human rights defenders (HRDs) due to travel to Geneva for UPR Info’s Pre-sessions in March 2016. Although the HRDs later had their passports returned, the act was an unacceptable limitation on civil society's participation in the UPR.

In May 2016 we launched our Annual Report, which provides an overview of our activities and achievements during 2015. The highlight of the year was the establishment of two new UPR Info regional offices in Asia and Africa to increase regional support and facilitate multi-stakeholder engagement with the UPR on the ground. In 2015 we continued to support UPR implementation strategies through our Follow-up Programme and, in Geneva, we held Pre-sessions on 29 countries. We also launched three publications on the UPR, including A Guide for Recommending States. Finally, 2015 saw the election of Mr Miloon Kothari, former UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, as new President of UPR Info.


25th Session of the UPR

Civil society participation at the heart of the 25th session of the UPR

The 25th Session of the UPR Working Group took place on 2-13 May 2016 at Palais des Nations, Geneva. The 14 States reviewed were: Antigua and Barbuda, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, and Trinidad and Tobago. During the interactive dialogues, a total of 2,553 recommendations were made. Ireland totaled the highest number of recommendations (262) at this session, followed by Thailand (249) and Sudan (244). Civil society organisations organised side events on the reviews of Thailand, Tanzania, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea. During the UPR of Sudan, States expressed their concern at the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the country. Particular attention was given to the fact that, in the context of UPR Info's Pre-sessions in March, four Sudanese HRDs due to travel to Geneva had their passports confiscated by security agents before boarding their planes. Read more here.


UPR Info's 2015 Annual Report

2015 was a year of evolution, expansion and engagement for UPR Info
We established two Regional Offices in Bangkok, Thailand, and Nairobi, Kenya. We launched three publications on the UPR, including A Guide for Recommending States. We continued to support UPR implementation strategies through our Follow-up Programme in Malawi, Mongolia, Nepal, and Rwanda. We also had a strong year of engagement and participation at our Pre-sessions, both in Geneva as well as at our new in-country Pre-sessions in Myanmar and Thailand. Read more here.

CSO strategy workshop in Sierra Leone

On 7-9 April 2016, UPR Info, together with the Human Rights Defenders Network Sierra Leone (HRDNSL) and the Core UPR Working Group, organised the “CSO strategy workshop on implementation of UPR recommendations” in Bo City, Sierra Leone. During the three-day workshop, 45 CSO representatives: discussed their experiences from Sierra Leone's first UPR; reviewed the recommendations the State received during its second UPR in January 2016; drafted an implementation plan to propose ways to implement recommendations; and outlined an action strategy to identify advocacy activities to support the government in the implementation phase.
Read more here.

32nd Session of the Human Rights Council

The 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council will take place from 13 June to 1 July 2016. A draft Programme of Work can be found here. The Working Group Reports of States reviewed during the 24th UPR session (January 2016) will be adopted from 23 to 24 June 2016. Reports will be adopted on:  Namibia, Niger, Mozambique, Estonia, Paraguay, Belgium, Denmark, Palau, Somalia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Latvia, Sierra Leone, and Singapore. NGOs will be given an opportunity to take the floor. The registration for the list of speakers should open on Thursday, 9 June 2016 at 2:00 pm, CEST. Read more here.

Sudanese HRDs have passports returned

During UPR Info's most recent round of Pre-sessions, four Sudanese human rights defenders (HRDs), who were due to participate at the Pre-session on Sudan, had their passports seized by security agents. The act was a clear and unacceptable limitation on civil society's participation in the UPR process. Since the incident, and further to follow-up from UPR Info and its partners, we are pleased to learn that the four HRDs have had their passports returned by the authorities. Read more here.


UPR Info launches Regional Office in Africa

On 19 April 2016, UPR Info Africa Regional Office was formally launched at a conference held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi. The launch was attended by over 40 guests including diplomats, Government of Kenya officials and civil society representatives.

Speakers at the meeting included: Ms. Christine Alai, Chairperson of the Board of Directors, UPR Info Africa; Mr. Jean-Claude Vignoli, Director of Programmes, UPR Info Headquarters in Geneva; Marcella Favretto, Senior Human Rights Adviser at  the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; Mr. Jamie Pennell, First Secretary, Canadian High Commission in Nairobi; Ms. Janssen Stijn, First Secretary and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Royal Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi; Mr. David C. Jourdan, First Secretary, Royal Norwegian Embassy in Nairobi; and Ms. Maryann Njau-Kimani, Secretary at the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice.

UPR Info Africa is headed by Mr Gilbert Onyango, a Kenyan human rights expert with significant professional experience across the African continent. The Africa Office has been working since 2015 on activities that can be divided into: workshops with CSOs, dialogue-days between CSOs and governments and multi-stakeholder training sessions. UPR Info Africa has so far worked with partners in Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania, with plans to engage this year with UPR stakeholders in Togo and Uganda. Read more here.

Quote of the month

"The valuable contribution of the NGOs both in the preparation of the UPR sessions and in the implementation of the UPR outcomes cannot be overstated. The EU pays tribute to the courageous human rights defenders who often take personal risk to expose human rights violations. We call upon all States to create and maintain the space allowing civil society to continue playing this crucial role”.

H.E. Ambassador Roderick Van Schreven, Statement by the Netherlands on behalf of the EU, 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council, General Debate on Item 6

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