- The arrival of spring saw UPR Info Pre-Sessions at the top of agenda. 11 States were discussed over three days, where we had the highest rate of participation by national NGOs to date. While the Pre-sessions successfully served as a key human rights advocacy platform for civil society, we unfortunately also experienced an unprecedented situation on the restriction of participants. A few days before the Pre-session of Sudan, the Sudanese authorities prevented four of the country's prominent human rights defenders from travelling to Geneva to participate. UPR Info is deeply concerned by this flagrant restriction on civil society participation, and calls on Sudan to remove the travel bans and to ensure that NGOs can freely participate in the UPR process.
- 2016 will be an important year for international human rights. At the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG), this year marks both the 10-year anniversary of the Human Rights Council (HRC), as well as the end of the second cyle of the UPR (2012-2016). Both occasions provide timely opportunities to reflect upon the challenges faced, and achievements made in the advancemnet of human rights over the last decade. The New Year commenced with the 24th Session of the UPR Working Group, presided over by H.E. Choi Kyong-lim, the new President of the HRC. Session 25 (May 2016) and Session 26 (November 2016) will bring the Second Cycle of the UPR to an close.2015 has been an exciting and busy year for UPR Info, both at home and abroad. Two new regional offices were established in Thailand and Kenya, providing UPR support for the Asia and Africa regions. Meanwhile, UPR Info’s Geneva offices hosted three rounds of Pre-sessions and monitored three UPR Working Group sessions throughout 2015. Within the last month alone, the three offices provided several capacity building and training workshops, for civil society organisations (CSOs) and government officials alike, in Armenia, Malawi, Moldova, Morocco, Nepal, and Rwanda.
November saw diplomats from all States and regions take the floor in Room XX of Palais des Nations to make recommendations during the 23rd Session of the UPR Working Group. Over two weeks, the human rights situation in the fourteen States under review was widely discussed, seeing all manners of issues raised. Recommendations in response to the migrant crisis were made during several reviews, calling for increased protection for asylum seekers and improved conditions in processing centres. In addition to monitoring the reviews, UPR Info was active in providing several UPR trainings to both civil society and government actors at home and abroad, as well as engaging its follow-up programme in Mongolia and Armenia. Finally, preparations are in full swing for the next round of UPR Info Pre-sessions, which will take place in Geneva on 15-17 December 2015.
September proved to be a busy month for human rights activity in Geneva. The UPR was the subject of several important discussions and resolutions at the Human Rights Council, which included grave accounts of reprisals against those working with the mechanism. At the beginning of October, UPR Info held three days of Pre-sessions, providing a platform for defenders to share first-hand information from the ground. The international human rights conference saw strong engagement from civil society and Permanent Missions alike. Diplomats from all regions were present at the event, taking note of issues they can raise in their recommendations to States being reviewed at the 23rd UPR Working Group (UPR23) in November 2015. UPR Info will follow up on the impetus of the Pre-sessions to host a seminar for recommending States on 20 October 2015 to help guide States in the formulation of recommendations in advance of UPR23.