Inter-State Dialogue: Recover Better through the Universal Periodic Review

Ahead of Human Rights Day 2020, UPR Info and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) organize an Inter-State Virtual Dialogue entitled "Recover Better through the Universal Periodic Review". 

The closed event will be held on Friday 4th December 2020 (10:00- 11:30) on Zoom. Click here to register.

The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented threat to societies worldwide. The disease continues to expose the weakness of a political, economic and social system which has long neglected to prioritize and give effect to the progressive realization of economic, social and cultural rights. Worldwide, the level of enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights for the most marginalized and disadvantaged was already inadequate prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many populations and groups were already experiencing persistent marginalization and multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination based on factors such as income, location, caste, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, stigmatized or criminalized livelihoods and the general denial of many human rights. These include persons with disabilities, older persons, persons living in informal settlements, women, migrants, refugees and persons in detention. In addition to these populations and groups, individuals and households living on the poverty line, especially as a result of discrimination and increasing inequality, are also at risk of sinking into even further levels of deprivation.

The COVID-19 crisis is exerting an enormous and disproportionate negative impact on these individuals and groups, and the response to the crisis needs to take their rights into account. In an early phase of the pandemic, a predominant tendency focused on the threats and restrictions to civil liberties, such as freedom of movement, freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the right to privacy.

As lockdown measures have persisted for months and governments across the world have been adopting plans and measures to respond to COVID-19 another set of concerns has become increasingly visible:

- The medium- and long-term effects on Economic, Social and Cultural rights– including the rights to health, adequate housing, safe drinking water and sanitation, food, work, social security, education, an healthy environment and an adequate standard of living;
- The increased vulnerabilities and discrimination of some groups linked to their gender, age, conditions and status (women and girls, persons with disabilities, refugees, migrants, older persons, persons deprived of liberty); the emergence of groups that require robust protection at work, such as health workers and essential workers providing services in sanitation, which are at the forefront of the crisis.

The SG in September 2020 asked that we show ambition to carry out a transformative and inclusive recovery. To achieve this ambition, we must be guided by the UN framework to promote, protect, and fulfill all human rights at every step, the immediate, mid-term, and long term. More than ever, the human rights mechanisms and tools available are essential for meeting the long term continuing and emerging challenges. The Universal Periodic Review is a powerful mechanism to prevent and respond to human rights violations, both economic, social and cultural as well as civil and political. It provides peer guidance to assist States respecting, protecting, and fulfilling their human rights obligations toward their constituents.

In these times, the UPR can play an even more pragmatic role by facilitating the sharing of best practices, advice and technical cooperation for States to adopt recovery strategies to build back better towards fair and sustainable societies that leave no one behind. The first UPR Working Group in the times of pandemic recently concluded (2-13 November 2020). On this occasion, several states under review shared with their peers the measures adopted to respond to the challenges posed by Covid-19. From allocating a budget for workers staying at home to providing free internet for students during the confinement, from the provision of Covid-19 tests and the improvement of health services to the launch of awareness raising campaigns to address the increase of gender-based violence, just to name a few. Relevant recommendations and question addressing the challenges for vulnerable groups brought about by the Covid-19 public health crisis were also raised by the recommending states during the interactive dialogue.

The 36th UPR WG highlighted the mechanism’s role in monitoring new developments (including how these impact on implementation of recommendations made in previous cycles) and issuing relevant recommendations towards the realization of human rights and SDGs, even in times of pandemic. It also brought out UPR’s potential in terms of sharing of lessons learned and best practices, and promoting inter-state cooperation.

Focus and Objectives
The virtual dialogue, organized in partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), will offer state representatives an informal conversation of using the UPR to recover better. A few weeks after the conclusion of the first UPR Working Group in the pandemic period, the online debate will be an occasion to reflect on how this mechanism can effectively contribute to recover better. The sharing of good practices and, once integrated into the UPR process, will support the effective enjoyment of human rights issues that have been impacted during the pandemic.

The webinar will:
1. Highlight experiences on the human rights engagements of States during the Covid-19 pandemic, including the response of states at different stages of their UPR cycle.
2. Take stock on how States in the 36th UPR session contributed through their comments and recommendations to recover better.
3. Identify common trends, challenges and opportunities, at the national, regional, and international levels to fulfill human rights commitments, also in line with the SDGs, in order to build back better in the post pandemic phase.
4. Share emerging promising/good practices and lessons learned, bearing in mind also the opportunity provided by the UPR to identify capacity building needs and technical cooperation. Following this interactive inter-state dialogue, a brief informative document will be published to provide tips and guidance to UN Member States on the UPR in connection to the Covid-19 crisis.

Methodology and format
Participants can register here and join the discussion online and use #RecoverBetter and #UPRgoodpractice, #UPR, #StandUpForHumanRightson twitter.

Opening remarks:  OHCHR, UPR Branch and Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva
Session 1, "Recovering better: placing human rights at the core of recovery", OHCHR, Advocacy and Outreach ESCR & SDGs and COVID -19
Session 2: "SMART recommendations to recover better", UPR Info
Session 3: Discussion with representatives of the Permanent Mission of Japan and others tbc.  

Advanced questions to the panelists at: stakeholders@upr-info.org

To register, click here.