UPR Info convened the Pre-sessions from 11-14 December 2018 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva in advance of the 32nd session of the Universal Periodic Review. The international human rights conference gave the opportunity to national human rights defenders from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Chile, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, New Zealand, Slovakia, Uruguay, Vanuatu, and Vietnam to present their concerns and recommendations to Recommending States ahead of the country reviews at the UPR Working Group in January/February 2019.
The Pre-sessions were a success in terms of local representation and dialogue with state delegates. Panellists from 12 of the 14 countries under review provided specific and action-oriented UPR recommendations to Permanent Missions. Of the 52 CSO organisations that took the floor, 63% were national organisations and 50% were represented by women. A critical stakeholder in the UPR process, National Human Rights Institutions participated in the sessions on New Zealand and Slovakia.
The willingness of states to engage with civil society in advance of the UPR was once again demonstrated by the strong presence of Permanent Missions in the room at the Pre-sessions. UPR Info welcomed a total number of 65 different Permanent Missions to the December sessions, with an average of 34 representatives at each meeting. In the spirit of collaboration and inclusivity, States under Review were offered the floor at the beginning of each session to deliver a short statement on progress achieved since the last cycle, an opportunity seized by 75% of states.
Thanks to strong coordination among panelists, a broad range of human rights issues were raised throughout the week, addressing civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, and at-risk marginalized groups. Women’s rights, sexual and reproductive health rights, rights of the child, and minority rights also figured prominently among the issues addressed during the panel discussions. To facilitate dialogue and encourage State participation, UPR Info provided States with a list of themes to be covered during the Sessions in advance of each meeting, and has made statements available on its website with the consent of panellists.
UPR Info wishes to express its gratitude to all of the civil society organisations, national human rights institutions, Recommending States, and States under Review for their strong engagement throughout the Pre-sessions. We would like to extend a special thanks to Mr. Gianni Magazzeni of the OHCHR for his powerful opening remarks on 11 December and to the United Nations NGO Liaison Unit for their continued support.
The Pre-sessions are made possible thanks to the support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the Canton of Geneva, the City of Geneva, Irish Aid, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
UPR Info is now accepting applications for speaker positions at the next round of Pre-sessions, which will take place from 2-5 April 2019 in Geneva. For more information, please visit our website.