History and objectivesThe Pre-sessions were introduced in 2012, at the beginning of the second cycle of the UPR. UPR Info saw that the formal UPR structure limited the extent to which civil society could engage dynamically with the process, and therefore decided to introduce the Pre-sessions with a dual aim. Firstly, the Pre-sessions offered civil society an international platform to directly advocate to State delegations ahead of the UPR session; and secondly to facilitate diplomatic delegations to ascertain information on countries’ human rights landscapes. The ultimate aim of the Pre-sessions is to ensure that the recommendations that will be made at the Review are specific and well-targeted.
ParticipationThroughout the second cycle of the UPR covering sessions 13 to 29, the Pre-sessions have brought together almost 900 civil society organisations (CSOs) and national human rights institutions (NHRIs). In addition to broad representation of speakers, the amount of Permanent Missions that have attended the Pre-sessions is a sign of the event's success. Since 2012, 163 Permanent Missions have attended the Pre-sessions to listen to the testimony of human rights advocates from every corner of the world.
UPR Info has hosted 163 countries Pre-sessions to date:
For more information on the history of the Pre-sessions and how to participate, see UPR Info's latest publication UPR Pre-sessions: Empowering human rights voices from the ground is available to download.
For information about the next round of Pre-sessions, click here.
Format and speaker selection
The Pre-session of each State under Review lasts one hour. The NHRI and CSOs are given the floor between 5 to 7 minutes each to share their assessment of the human rights situation in the country since the previous review and the progress accomplished by the State under Review in implementing the recommendations. After all speakers have made their presentations, the moderator opens up the floor to questions from the audience.
As time is limited, not all applicant organisations can be retained as speakers. An objective set of criteria has been applied since 2012 for the selection of speakers, whereby priority is given to CSOs satisfying the following conditions:
- Grassroots and national CSOs; because they ensure a bottom-up approach to advocacy, placing local voices at the forefront of international human rights dialogue;
- National coalitions; CSOs working in coalitions benefit from the collective knowledge of each of its members, as they often represent a large spectrum of human rights, and their engagement tends to be more sustainable;
- CSOs that have submitted a report to the UPR and are committed to engaging in the process, in particular in the implementation phase;
- A broad representation of the various human rights issues representing the concerns of the local population. In particular, a balance is sought amongst civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights; and
- Ensuring a gender perspective for each Pre-sessions; where possible, gender parity amongst panellists is also sought.
Zimbabwean CSOs discuss the human rights situation at their country's Pre-session (October 2016)
Pre-sessions timeline of engagement
Point of contact
For all questions concerning the Pre-sessions, please contact:
Ms Ashleigh Shields
Pre-sessions Programme Manager
Tel.: +41 22 321 77 70
The UPR Pre-sessions are made possible thanks to the kind support of Irish Aid, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, the Canton of Geneva, the City of Geneva and the Organisation International de la Francophonie.