[UPR Trax] No34: On the road to implementation

From 19th to 21st September, the Human Rights Council (the Council) adopted the Working Group Reports of States reviewed during the 13th UPR session held last May. Those countries included Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, Ecuador, Finland, India, Indonesia, Morocco, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Tunisia and the United Kingdom. Morocco and Ecuador had provided their responses to all recommendations at the Working Group stage. All other countries, except the Philippines, submitted an addendum containing their responses to recommendations. It is worth noting that India modified the wording of certain recommendations in order to accept them. Out of the 169 recommendations received during their review on 24 May 2012, the Indian delegation listed in an addendum the 67 it accepted. However in 11 of these, the original wording of the report of the working group had been altered to remove requests to withdraw its reservation to Article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and to take proactive measures to address the issue of impunity.
 

These adoptions also saw the implementation of the new modalities for the list of speakers for both States and NGOs. For Bahrain and South Africa, where more than 13 States registered, the lists of speakers were drawn by lots. NGOs had to register online one week before the beginning of the HRC. There was still a lack of awareness among national NGOs and engagement with these actors will be necessary to ensure their inclusion in the UPR process. The option of video statements for NGOs was also introduced. The South African Human Rights Commission and the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development were the two first stakeholders to make use of this new modality.

After the adoption of the reports, the HRC held its usual general debate under item 6. Both member and observer States, as well as NGOs, discussed the publication of media highlights of the UPR by the OHCHR, the importance of the implementation of recommendations and follow-up, the involvement of civil society, and the new UPR modalities.


At UPR Info, the newly acquired Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC has already been put to good use. On 21st September, together with Conectas Direitos Humanos and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, UPR Info made a joint statement to denounce the practice of States negotiating the wording of recommendations made during the UPR.

The statement criticised both States under Review and Recommending States which engage in trade-off concerning the wording of recommendations after they have been made during the review. The argument was made that though it has been used since the Working Group reports of Afghanistan and Yemen in 2009, this practice lacks transparency and accountability. Moreover, it undermines the participation of stakeholders within the UPR process by erasing their effort to ensure that specific recommendations are made.

Other issues of concern raised in the statement were the possibility for States under Review to draft the summary section of their own statement within the report of the UPR Working Group, and the requirement that when factual mistakes and mistranslation of language occur within that report, only the delegation which made the statement may request that corrections be made to that text. The three NGOs argued that this practice is unnecessary and could potentially increase the chance of inaccuracies being included in the final outcome document.

On Wednesday 24th October, during the UPR 14th Working Group session, UPR Info will organise a side event entitled “Implementing UPR recommendations: an assessment at mid-term”. This event will be held for the launch of our new publication “On the road to the implementation”, based on our “Follow-up Programme” which analyses the practice of implementation for 64 States. The side event will present the findings of the publication and facilitate a discussion on the successes and challenges that States face in implementing UPR recommendations.

On the same subject, we started receiving and collecting stakeholders comments for the Follow-up regarding Angola, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Qatar, San Marino, and Slovenia. The number of participating stakeholders is very high, and UN Agencies have now begun providing their own comments as well. The quality of the mid-term reports is improving, as is the mobilisation of the civil-society. These encouraging developments demonstrate how eager stakeholders are to avoid a passive role within the UPR, and how much they want to have their say in the process.

Quote of the month

“Some States recommended to Kuwait to strengthen our cooperation with the UN treaty bodies, submitting to them periodic reports in particular. […] So Kuwait presented reports on the following subjects: CAT, CEDAW, and Human Rights Committee in 2011, and CERD in 2012.

Ms. Rania Al - Mulaifi, Attaché at the Permanent Mission of Kuwait, Human Rights Council 21st session General Debate on Item 6, 21 September 2012.

Interview of the month

Our interviewee of the month is Mr. Patrick Mutzenberg, Director of the Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), based in Geneva. In the interview he explains to us the work of his organisation to strengthen the Human Rights Committee, and offers advice on how NGOs should use this Committee together with the UPR to advance the human rights situation in their country:

http://youtu.be/d3oo6gnL8Ws

Deadlines for NGO participation in the UPR

- 9 October 2012: Deadline for the submission of information on States reviewed during the 16th UPR session (May/June 2013): Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Canada, Cuba, Djibouti and Russian Federation;

- 13 October 2012: Deadline to book a room in the Palais des Nations to organise a side event during the 14th session of the UPR. Registration form available here;

- 19 October 2012: Deadline to register at UPR Info’s pre-session on the States to be reviewed in January 2013 (session 15).

Latest documents on www.upr-info.org

- Edward R. McMahon, The UPR: A Work in Progress, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, September 2012.

- The Sexual Rights Initiative and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, "Sexual rights & the Universal Periodic Review: A Toolkit for advocates" - A, E, F, S, April 2012.

News on the UPR

  • Two stakeholders make new use of video statements at UPR adoptions - 2 October 2012

The South African Human Rights Commission and the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development are the two first stakeholders to make a video statement during the adoption of UPR Working Group reports at the 21st session of the Human Rights Council. More…

  • India changes the wording of the recommendations they accepted - 2 October 2012

India received 169 recommendations during their review on 24 May 2012. In a written response submitted on 17 September to the Human Rights Council, the delegation listed the 67 recommendations they accepted. In 11 of these recommendations however, the original wording of the report of the working group had been altered. More…

  • UPR General Debate: Controversy over OHCHR Media Highlights, and the Evolution of the UPR Process - 27 September 2012

After the adoption of the reports of the thirteenth Working Group session of the UPR, the HRC held its usual general debate under item 6, on the 21st September 2012. Both member and observer States, as well as NGOs, discussed several issues, including the publication of media highlights of the UPR, the importance of the implementation of recommendations and the follow-up, the involvement of civil society, and the new UPR modalities. More…

News about UPR Info

  • UPR Info denounces the practice of back-room negotiations of recommendations during UPR debate at the HRC – 24 September 2012

On 21st September, in a joint statement with Conectas Direitos Humanos and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies at the Human Rights Council (HRC), UPR Info denounced the practice of States negotiating the wording of recommendations made during the UPR. More…