Ensuring Burmese Local Voices are at the Center of the Universal Periodic Review
In early September 2015, UPR Info Asia in partnership with the Burma-Myanmar UPR Forum organised its first ever UPR Pre-Session at the country level to support local organisations inclusive and effective participation in Myanmar 2nd Cycle UPR, and to ensure local voices could be heard by diplomats before the country’s review and get their support. On 6 November 2015, two days before the national elections, Myanmar will be reviewed on all its human rights records by UN Member States at the UN Human Rights Council.
Taking place on 2-4 September in Yangon and 8-10 September in Bangkok, the “In-Country UPR Pre-Sessions” offered a unique opportunity to local civil society to voice its concerns, provide first-hand reliable information and data from the ground, as well as evidence-based solutions through precise and concrete UPR recommendations. For that purpose, the Burma-Myanmar UPR Forum gathered credible evidence and developed the “Information on the Status of the Human Rights Situation in Myanmar” consisting of 16 UPR Advocacy Factsheets, covering the most challenging human rights issues in the country. The goals of the UPR Pre-Sessions held at the country level were to brief the local media and engage in dialogue with diplomats on pressing human rights issues, such as: human rights protection and legal reform, armed conflict and its impact on ethnic minorities, the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Land Rights, Women’s Rights, SOGIE rights, and the Rights of the child among others. This extension of the Geneva-based pre-sessions will ensure that more grassroots CSOs can take the floor and share their recommendations with diplomats in advance of the UPR.
The Burma-Myanmar UPR Forum remains the sole platform for providing local and international actors with the accurate human rights situation on the ground and most importantly for providing concrete solutions: “We are the primary Stakeholders who would have to engage with the upcoming Government and we are the ones providing first hand evidence. By being supported in our lobbying efforts, we can ensure our human rights responses are directly influencing the outcome of the UPR and bring about change in our country”, Khin Ohmar, Coordinator of Burma Partnership and Co-Leader of the Burma-Myanmar UPR Forum, concluding the diplomatic dialogues.
The Burma-Myanmar UPR Forum will continue its efforts in Geneva and will take part in UPR Info’s Pre-Session held on 8 October, to support Geneva-based diplomats in developing their recommendations to be addressed to Myanmar on 6 November 2015.
Coalitions of NGOs have proved to be more effective in the UPR. They are more representative of concerns shared by a larger percentage of the population. UPR Info Asia seized the opportunity of the Yangon and Bangkok's pre-sessions to provide information on the UPR to activists who mostly discovered the UN mechanism.