Pre-sessions 43: main takeaway
UPR Info hosted Pre-sessions 43 from 3rd to 6th April 2023 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The sessions took place one month before the 43rd UPR Working Group session and it was the opportunity for National Human Rights Institutions and civil society organizations to present the human rights situation in 13 of the 14 States under review: France, Montenegro, the Republic of Serbia, Romania, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Israel, Republic of Burundi, Kingdom of Tonga, Republic of Mali, Republic of Botswana, Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados and United Arab Emirates.
During the opening remarks of the Pre-sessions 43, UPR Info welcomed the creation of the Group of Friends of the Universal Periodic Review and reiterated its willingness to actively engage with it in order to strengthen the UPR as a key collaborative mechanism for improving human rights on the ground.
Ms. Mona M’Bikay, UPR Info’s Executive Director, also renewed its encouragement to States to create a national basket of funds fully dedicated to supporting the implementation of UPR recommendations, as proposed by UPR Info under item 6 of the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council. These opening remarks were followed by a statement made by Mr. Gianni Magazzeni, Chief of the UPR Branch at the OHCHR, about the importance of the UPR as an inclusive process for civil society, as well as a video message delivered by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
Ms. Mary Lawlor recalled the importance of the UPR as a unique mechanism for the international community to highlight the role of civil society and enable its participation in the respect of human rights. The Special Rapporteur expressed concern about the increasing number of civil society representatives facing obstacles and/or reprisals for their participation in the UPR. She also stressed the importance of the UPR Info Pre-sessions which represent a key platform to amplify the voice of human rights defenders and that this forum must remain safe for them to provide information on the situation in their country and propose action-oriented recommendations. She thus strongly encouraged all States to ensure that civil society can freely and safely express its concerns without fear of reprisals.
Facts and figures
During Pre-sessions 43, of the 51 civil society organisations and national human rights institutions that expressed their concerns about the human rights situation in their country, 33 were represented by women (65%) and 47 were national organisations, including 3 national human rights institutions. This series of Pre-sessions welcomed a total of 43 different permanent missions over the whole week, despite the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council being held in parallel. The presence of all these various permanent missions at the Pre-sessions shows a very strong interest in this event, allowing them to better prepare their recommendations for the 43rd UPR Working Group session in May 2023.
During this series of Pre-sessions, UPR Info managed to organise a panel for the Pre-sessions on three Small Island Developing States which will be reviewed in May 2023, namely the Bahamas, Barbados, and Tonga - despite the long distance and the high cost of traveling to Geneva. The participation of CSOs from these countries in the Pre-sessions is positive as it allows them to better integrate into the UPR process and to provide the representatives of the Permanent Missions with information on the human rights situation in these countries.
A wide variety of human rights issues were discussed in the different panels, from civil and political rights to social, economic and cultural rights, including emerging questions such as environmental rights, digital rights. The statements are available on our website, under the page of their states.