New guidelines and matrices for third cycle NGO submissions

New Technical Guidelines for stakeholders' written submissions for the third cycle of the UPR have been published by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR). During the first and second cycle of the UPR documents submitted by civil society organisations (CSOs), National Human Rights Institutes (NHRI), and regional mechanisms provided key updates on the human rights situation in the State under review. As the third cycle of the UPR approaches, and with the aim of improving the effectiveness of these written submissions, the OHCHR has developed new guidelines for "other stakeholders" and has devised 'Matrices of recommendations of countries to be reviewed during the 3rd cycle of the UPR' . The purpose of the matrices is to collect precise and specific information on the level of implementation, in the State under review, of both the accepted and noted recommendations from their previous reviews. They will be used by the OHCHR to draft the document on the summary of other stakeholders' information.

Technical Guidelines

These updated technical guidelines provide very clear instructions on how to successfully engage with the UPR mechanism. The guidelines reiterate formatting constraints, such as: word limits, 2815 words for a single organisation and 5630 words for a joint organisation submission; deadlines, 6 months prior to the review; preferred languages of submissions being French, English, or Spanish; further information can be annexed and endnotes can be used to for references but should not include any substantive information.  The document also offers practical suggestions in regards to appropriate content, for example: the need to clearly identify the recommendations being discussed, including draft S.M.A.R.T recommendations for States to take forward to the UPR, and focusing afresh on the implementation of previous recommendations.   

The guidelines, which offer essential support to stakeholders, explain that CSOs, NHRIs, and regional mechanisms are encouraged to submit their written contributions to the OHCHR at least 6 months before the relevant UPR Working Group, with the next deadline for stakeholder submission on 22 September 2016 (for the 27th Session of the UPR Working Group). Stakeholders are now also encouraged to submit their completed country specific matrix, alongside their written submissions.

Third Cycle Matrices

With the third cycle of the UPR due to begin in April/May 2017 the OHCHR has released a country specific matrix for each of the 14 States under review: Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Finland, United Kingdom, India, Brazil, Philippines, Algeria, Poland, Netherlands, South Africa. All "other stakeholders" are encouraged to download their country matrix, complete the final column in the table, and submit it in addition to their written submission, the word count of which is not affected by comments added to the matrices. The matrix provides a list of received recommendations, clustered by theme, and then allows space for "Assessment/comments on level of implementation". Section 5 of the Technical Guidelines explains further the benefits of the new matrices and reiterates the need for submissions to provide information on  "developments since the last review and any other human rights issues". The matrices also encourage stakeholders to identify "challenges or needs of technical cooperation" where recommendations have not been implemented.

It is important to note that the OHCHR highly encourages the completion and submission of matrices, but only in addition to a main written contribution. For further information the Guide can be found here and the matrices will be uploaded to our website when available from the OHCHR.