[UPR Trax] No41: Do NGO recommendations matter?

On Monday the 9th of September, the 24th session of the Human Rights Council. From the 18th to the 20th, the Human Rights Council will adopt the Working Group Reports of States reviewed during the 16th UPR session (April-May 2013): Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Germany, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, and Uzbekistan. A two-hour general debate on the UPR process will then follow. Prior to the adoption session, the States under Review are expected to publish in writing their responses to the recommendations received during their review. So far, only Bangladesh, Colombia, Federation of Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have submitted their recommendation responses.

During the 24th session, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be presenting his annual report "Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights." The report describes specific cases of reprisals against individuals who engaged with human rights mechanisms. The Secretary-General cites two cases linked to the participation in the UPR in Bahrain and the Philippines. In concluding his report, Ban Ki-moon calls on the HRC to "act to address cases of reprisal in a coherent and systematic manner and use the various tools it has at its disposal."

Far from Geneva, the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN has recently launched a monitoring tool for tracking implementation of UPR recommendations. This tool includes both an Indian template to assist in the monitoring of UPR recommendations and a global template which can be adapted for other countries. The global template can be used by organisations aiming to track the implementation of recommendations by their Governments. This publication will undoubtedly facilitate the monitoring of domestic human rights situation and will ensure greater accountability. At UPR Info, we organised the fifth series of UPR pre-sessional meetings from the 2nd to the 4th of September 2013, to discuss the human rights situations of States to be examined at the 17th session of the UPR Working Group (21st October – 1st November 2013). The pre-sessional meetings were held at the Centre International des Conférences in Geneva and included: the Central African Republic, Chad, China, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo, Saudi Arabia, and Senegal. Around 70 Human Rights Defenders came from four corners of the world; highlighting key human rights issues in their countries. The Human Rights Defenders provided assessments of the implementation of recommendations received by their governments during the first UPR cycle, highlighting new developments and remaining gaps. They also strongly suggested recommendations to diplomatic missions, to call for action from their own governments to remedy situations. The pre-sessional meetings were presented live through Facebook and Twitter. Through the exchanges between the Human Rights Defenders and diplomatic missions, it is expected that the subsequent discussions of the UPR Working Group in October will be focused on the predominant human rights issues in above listed countries. We are also proud to announce that our database now contains recommendations session 15, now totalling over 27,000 recommendations. This includes those recommendations made during session 15. This high number of recommendations made at the UPR is often cited as one of the potential threats to the mechanism. This particular threat led 89 States in March of 2013, to commit "to exercise restraint on the number of recommendations given to other states, by adhering to a maximum of two for each state." UPR Info however holds different views. As many recommendations are similar, the State under Review can easily implement many of the recommendations in one single action. In addition, many recommendations are generic in nature (not calling for a specific action) and often do not call for a burdensome work. While such a number of recommendations raise many challenges, UPR Info sees more positive effects than negative and believes that the high number of recommendations is a mark of engagement by the international community in the UPR process.

On the 17th of September, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and UPR Info are organising a side-event at the occasion of the launch of a new publication by Prof. McMahon on NGO recommendations of the UPR. The discussion of paper will examine the extent that recommendations made in the UPR process reflect draft recommendations proposed by NGOs. Prof. McMahon finds that State recommendations significantly encompass NGO recommendations: two-thirds of NGO recommendations are reflected in UPR recommendations although a majority of them are of a general nature, rather than a specific nature. Please join us at the United Nations for the launch of the publication and a discussion on the role of NGOs at the UPR.

Please find more detailed information on the above listed issues in the news.

Quote of the month

[It] seems like the pre-sessions have become an integral part of the UPR process
Mr. Ren Chung Yu, representative of COMANGO coalition in Malaysia, participant to UPR Info’s pre-session on Malaysia on 2 September 2013.

Video of the month

Mr. Obiora Obasi, representative of UPR Coalition of South East Nigeria, speaks to us about his participation in our pre-session on Nigeria on the 3rd of September 2013, and his experience in Geneva:
http://youtu.be/1dno_B-mgJ0

Deadlines for participation in the UPR

  • 16 September 2013: Deadline for submission of information by civil society on Albania, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Norway, Portugal, and Qatar. Deadlines for the entire second cycle (sessions 13 to 26) are available by country and by session.
  • 27 September 2013: Deadline for NGOs to register at our pre-session to UPR 18 (Pre- session to be held from 26 to 29 November).
  • 28 October 2013: Deadline for submission of the national report by States under Review at session 18 (January 2014).
 
Latest documents on UPR Info website
 
News on the UPR
  • UN Secretary-General denounces cases of reprisals against NGOs engaging in the UPR - 6 September 2013
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be presenting his annual report "Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights," at the 24th session of the HRC.  The report describes specific cases of reprisals against NGOs engaging with human rights mechanisms, including the UPR. Read more...
  • Indian NGO develops monitoring tool for tracking implementation of UPR recommendations - 6 September 2013
The Working Group on Human Rights in India (WGHR) and the UN recently launched a monitoring tool for tracking implementation of UPR recommendations. Read more…
  • Change of deadline for NGO submissions at UPR 19 - 29 July 2013
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has extended the deadline for submissions by civil society for the 19th session of the UPR Working Group (April / May 2014) from 1st to 16th September 2013.
  • UPR reports for session 16 will be adopted from 18 to 20 September - 18 July 2013
The Working Group Reports of States reviewed during the 16th UPR session (April-May 2013) will be adopted from 18 to 20 September 2013. A two-hour general debate on the process will then follow.
 
News on UPR Info
  • UPR Info concludes fifth round of pre-sessional meetings - 10 September 2013
From 2 to 4 September 2013, UPR Info organised the fifth series of the UPR pre-sessional meeting to discuss the human rights situation of States to be examined at the 17th session of the UPR Working Group (21 October – 1 November 2013). Around 70 human rights defenders came from the four corners of the world, highlighting key human rights issues in their countries and suggested recommendations to diplomatic missions for their consideration.
  • Do NGO recommendations matter? A side event by UPR Info and FES - 9 September 2013
The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and UPR Info are organising a side event on 17 September at the occasion of the launch of a new publication by Prof. McMahon on NGO recommendations at the UPR. Read more…
 

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