On 16th March 2012, following these adoptions, the Council held a general debate which allowed both States and NGOs to discuss the outcomes of the 1st cycle as well as the upcoming 2nd reviews. The vast majority of States affirmed the success of the 1st cycle of the UPR, drawing particular attention to the 100% participation rate of all member States. Several States addressed the potential of the UPR mechanism to foster depoliticised and constructive dialogue. With a view towards increasing the effectiveness of the second cycle, 39 States committed to limit themselves to making a maximum of two recommendations to each States under review during the second cycle.
On 21st March 2012, the Council held its first annual discussion on technical cooperation, and the first theme selected was the UPR. Much of the discussion focused upon the importance for the UPR to be seen as a process rather than an event, and highlighted the necessity of mutual reinforcement of human rights and development strategies. Several States expressed the need for developing countries to receive technical and financial assistance in order to achieve success in the implementation of recommendations. Additionally, it was suggested that stakeholders continue to raise awareness about the UPR mechanism, and for States to devise implementation strategies while making the process as inclusive and accessible as possible to the relevant civil society actors fundamental to implementation efforts.
Implementation was undoubtedly a hot topic in the UPR discourse this past month. On March 22nd, the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions held a meeting on the implementation of UPR recommendations. Mr Magazzini, former director of the National Institutions Unit of OHCHR and chair of the panel, called for coordination mechanisms to be established at the national level, and emphasized the importance of the preparation of Mid-Term reports and the production of Action Plans. Mr Peschoux, Chief of the UPR team of the OHCHR, presented ideas for the enhanced involvement of NHRIs in the UPR process, such as adducing first-hand, reliable, and prioritised information to the Council, as well as providing trainings and developing tools to educate civil society organisations (CSOs) and States. After the panelists spoke, NHRI representatives had a chance to exchange their best practices learned over the course of the first UPR cycle.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recently published the timetables for 13th and 14th Sessions of the UPR Working Group. You may access the schedule for the 13th session (21 May - 4 June 2012) here and the schedule for the 14th session (22 Oct-5 Nov 2012) here. The OHCHR also published the deadlines for National Human Rights Institutions and NGOs to submit reports for the entire second cycle of the UPR. You can view the complete list of deadlines by country or session.
Finally, Benin, Chile, Portugal and Spain submitted a mid-term report to the Council. This brings the total number of mid-term reports to 21.
Next month will mark the beginning of the second cycle of the UPR with the holding of the 13th session of the Working Group from 22 May to 4 June. The second cycle will be decisive for the success of the UPR process. How the Council will assess the implementation of recommendations and will react in cases of non implementation will determine the credibility of the mechanism.
At UPR Info, April 4th marked the end of the first round of “Pre-Sessions” we organised in preparation of the 13th Session of the UPR Working Group (21st May – 4th June). 13 meetings were organised on the following States: Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom. Approximately 50 NGOs participated, of which half were national organisations and half were international organisations. On average, 20 State delegations attended each session. These pre-sessions filled the expressed need from both State delegations and NGOs to meet in order to identify, discuss, and further develop recommendations to ensure focused attention to the most relevant human rights issues during the reviews. The feedback received so far has shown the interest of States to meet with NGOs well in advance of the review and to receive first hand information. We look forward to seeing how NGO information will be translated into recommendations at the 13th session.
Concerning our Follow-up Programme, UPR Info recently released the Mid-term Implementation Assessments of Chile, the Republic of Congo, Macedonia FYR and New Zealand. This brings us close to the completion of session 5. We have now published 51 MIAs.
Please find more detailed information on these issues in the news below.