[UPR Trax] No53: Rethinking theory to promote change on the ground

Over the past two months, many events have occurred around the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism. The first regular Human Rights Council (HRC) session of the year took place in March 2015 and included the adoption of the UPR Reports of the 20th Session of the UPR. In addition, an interesting debate with particularly thoughtful statements on Item 6 took place during the plenary session. Moreover, different publications concerning the UPR have been released improving awareness and sharing best practices. With those same goals in mind, UPR Info has co-organised two workshops with civil society organisations in Kenya and Armenia within the framework of its new programme. Last but not least, UPR Info is finalising the last details before hosting the next round of pre-sessions, which will take place from 8 to 10 April 2015. The Vice-President of the Human Rights Council, His Excellency Mr Aguirre, will make the opening remarks at the pre-sessions on Wednesday 8 April at 9:00 am.

UPR Pre-Sessions 22
The next UPR Info round of pre-sessions will take place from 8 to 10 April 2015 at the Centre International de Conférences Genève (CICG), offering permanent delegations the opportunity to be informed on the status of implementation of recommendations made to Belarus, Croatia, Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, Mongolia and the United States, during their previous reviews, while providing civil society the opportunity to present information from the ground. This round of pre-sessions will feature opening remarks by the Vice-President of the Human Rights Council, His Excellency Mr Aguirre, will make the opening remarks at the pre-sessions on the United States of America on Wednesday 8 April at 9:00 am.  Read more.

Adoption of the UPR Reports of Session 20
At the 27th session of the HRC, the UPR outcomes were adopted for Italy, El Salvador, Gambia, Bolivia, Fiji, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Angola, Oran, Madagascar, Iraq, Slovenia, Egypt and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The adopted reports can be found on our website.

The Gambia was absent from the adoption of its own UPR report at the HRC on 28 March 2015 as its government was not able to send a delegation. It had, however, provided a written response to the 171 recommendations received during their review.

Concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, the delegation announced that it was noting all the recommendations received during its review in October 2014 because the Government had not been in a position to take a decision as a result of the "prolonged interim period due to the caretaking Council of Ministers since the elections on 12 October". Bosnia and Herzegovina committed to provide the country’s responses to the recommendations by the 29th session of the HRC in June.

General Debate on Item 6
On 20th March 2015, the HRC held a general debate on Item 6. During the debate, several States and NGOs took the floor to underline the current challenges of the UPR such as the need to strengthen the UN Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance provided by the OHCHR and the necessity to promote States’ commitment to submit mid-term reports.
In addition, several States raised the concern that the increasingly high number of recommendations is becoming difficult for the States under review to manage and successfully implement. However, UPR Info, on behalf of a total of 47 NGOs, suggested that limiting the number of recommendations will lead to important issues being left aside. Nevertheless, both statements agreed that there is an urgent necessity to improve the quality of recommendations made during the UPR.

Furthermore, Paraguay, taking the floor on behalf of a group of 50 States, emphasised the need to reiterate recommendations made in previous reviews when they have not been implemented or implemented fully. Paraguay’s statement stressed that more efforts should be made, also by recommending States, to improve follow-up on the recommendations as the credibility of the UPR will depend largely on the advancement made at the national level. Finally, highlighting the important role that civil society has in the UPR, Paraguay underlined the obligation of the States to prevent any form of intimidation against individuals or groups who cooperate with the UPR as well as with other human rights mechanisms. Read more about the General Debate.

New UPR-related publications
In early 2015, two new publications have been released in relation to the UPR.

Firstly, “Human Rights and the UPR – Rituals and Ritualism” was recently published, edited by Professor Hilary Charlesworth and Emma Larking. It is the first book entirely dedicated to the UPR and it includes a collection of papers by scholars and practitioners. Roland Chauville, UPR Info’s Executive Director, contributed to the book with a chapter that explains how the UPR functions within the architecture of the United Nations. Read more
Secondly, Mr. Alan Desmond from the School of Law, University College Cork has published an article entitled "The Triangle that Could Square the Circle? The UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the EU and the Universal Periodic Review" in the European Journal of Migration. If you would like to know more about the link between the UPR and the ICMW, read the interview with Mr. Alan Desmond on our website.

Finally, we have published our latest Factsheet No.4 on the UPR entitled “The follow-up”, developed in partnership with Child Rights Connect. The fourth factsheet aims at providing concrete explanations and technical assistance about the follow-up. You will find the English, Spanish and French version on our website. Moreover, the Russian version of Factsheets No. 1, 2 and 3, entitled “The UPR process”, “NGO written submission”, “Advocacy in the UPR”, as well as two templates, “Advocacy Strategy Template” and “Advocacy Paper Template”, have also been made available.  

CSO strategy workshop in Kenya
On 10-12 March 2015, UPR Info co-organised the “CSO strategy workshop on implementation of UPR recommendations”. During the three-day workshop, members of civil society organisations in Kenya discussed their experiences with the UPR mechanism. All the participants worked towards the adoption of a strategy that will allow the identification of advocacy activities to ensure and facilitate the government’s implementation of the recommendations made to Kenya at the UPR.

This workshop, along with the one organised in Armenia in February 2015, is part of a long-term strategy promoted by UPR Info’s new programme which plans to organise similar workshops in four other countries this year. Read more.


Without a follow-up, the accepted recommendations could become shallow promises and unfulfilled expectations.

Paraguay’s remarks, 20 March 2015


Ms. Sofia Leteipan, from the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, tells us why the Universal Periodic Review is important to her.

Watch the video



  • 22 June 2015: Tentative deadlines for “Other Stakeholders” (and UN entities) to submit written contributions for the 24th UPR session.

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