During a conference to mark the end of the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) - held on 13 October in Geneva - all actors in the UPR process (States, NGOs, National Human Rights Institutions and UN bodies) agreed that the new mechanism can only be deemed a success if implementation of the recommendations is carried out on the ground.
An event organised by UPR-Info and co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Switzerland, Morocco and the UK, took place on 13 October after Haiti's UPR, the final State to be reviewed in the first cycle of the new mechanism of the Human Rights Council.
Implementation success will define the UPR
The Ambassador for Morocco, in his opening address, immediately set the tone for the meeting by acknowledging the full attendance by all States to the examination process. He said: "The UPR is the only mechanism where all States have cooperated... Implementation in the field will be the test of whether the UPR is a success or failure," he continued.
These thoughts were echoed by H.E. Ulises Canchola, Permanent Representative of Mexico, who, in referring to the recommendations issued to States during the UPR process, stated: "It's not what's written on paper, we need action." He continued by saying: "We can't celebrate victory yet, we have just set the framework." Amongst other points made by Mr Canchola, he said the UPR had helped countries like Mexico to consolidate and strengthen their human rights agendas.
Ms. Kywang-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, also made some opening remarks reflecting on the UPR process. She said that whilst the UPR was very new to the Council and had "left little time for analysis," some important benefits had already emerged, notably the opportunity for information collection. She urged UN Member States to issue recommendations that were, "precise, practical, implementable and timebound", expressing concerns that to date, "some are vague and open-ended and therefore difficult to follow up."
UK announces plans for 2nd Cycle
The Permanent Representative for the UK addressed the meeting - as a co-sponsor - highlighting the UK's plans for the 2nd cycle. He talked about strengthening civil society consultation, launching a website and reviewing all recommendations.
Perspectives from Treaty bodies / Civil Society
A panel consisting of a representative from a Government, a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), an NGO, and a UN Treaty Body, made short presentations offering their varying perspectives on the first cycle of the UPR.
1. Government - Mexico (comments mentioned above)
Mr Silverio Pinto Baptista, from the Office of the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice, Timor-Leste, presented an NHRI's perspective on the UPR process. With Timor-Leste's review still fresh in mind, having been reviewed the previous day, Mr Baptista explained how the organisation held consultations in the run up to the UPR in 9 out of the 13 districts in Timor-Leste. Fifty-five NGOs participated in the preparation for the UPR report, and "in 4 years time, we will be in a much better position," he stated.
Mr Hassan Shire Sheikh, from the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, set out the challenges facing NGOs in engaging with the UPR, from an African context. He expressed concern that the views of civil society, despite being voiced, were not being seen in the final report. He also voiced concerns about Governments seeing consultations as a token activity. In other areas of concern, he addressed the issue of human rights defenders being harrassed for participating in the UPR and others living in fear of reprisal for various levels of participation in the process.
Mr Sheikh was encouraged by the formation of coalitions working together to report to the UPR, and indeed continuing to work together (citing Kenya as an example of where this is happening effectively), and urged States to complete a mid-term report and strive to develop dialogue with civil society. Addressing NGOs, he said it is important to maintain the momentum between reviews.
4. UN Treaty Body
Finally, Ms Dubravaka Simonovic, from the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), spoke about the relationship between treaty bodies and the UPR. In addition to acknowledging the increased level of information on human rights that the UPR provides, she said that many UPR recommendations issued to States relate to treaty bodies, such as urging withdrawal of reservations, ratification of Conventions and Optional Protocols. She said this has resulted in improvements, though stating: "it is not a fast trend but is visible."
Ms Simonovic continued by saying that the Committee is using UPR recommendations that focus on women's rights issues and the Convention in particular, and raising these in their Concluding Observations to States.
What next for the UPR
All 192 UN Member States (South Sudan excluded) have now been examined and the process now moves on to the second cycle which begins in June 2012. In the next cycle, States will be examined on their implementation of recommendations issued to them in their first reviews, together with a review of human rights situations that have developed in their country in the period between reviews. (The links at the bottom of this news item provide further information)
Special Edition CRINMAIL on the UPR
A Special Edition CRINMAIL on the UPR will be published in the next few days. You can subscribe to the Child Rights in the Human Rights Council CRINMAIL, here.
The CRINMAIL will include:
- A Report highlighting some of the key findings of an earlier and more detailed report published in 2010, also offering updated figures and some general recommendations for NGOs and others who wish to make use of the UPR.
- Summary of NGOs' experiences in using the UPR
- A guide on how to use the UPR
- Details of the second cycle: Schedule and Deadlines.
- An Introduction
- Information and Advocacy Opportunities
- Read about changes to the UPR format further to HRC Review
- CRIN's report: "Status of Children's rights in the UPR" (initial report)
- CRIN's report: "Guide to using the UPR
- Latest news on the UPR
- You can also read about "UPR in the media" on UPR-info.org.
Previous UPR report items
- 11/10/2011: UPR ANALYSIS: CRIN publishes updated report
- 05/10/2011: UPR: New fact sheets to assist NGOs using the mechanism
- 27/09/2011: SURINAME: Child Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review
- 19/09/2011: TANZANIA: Child Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review
- 19/09/2011: BELGIUM: Child Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review
Organisation Contact Details:
Child Rights International Network
2 Pontypool Place
Tel: +44 (0)207 401 2257
Last updated 14/10/2011 06:30:44