Regional: UPR Info Asia promotes the UPR at Regional Advocacy Workshops
As part of supporting local communities engaging in the UPR process, UPR Info Asia has been invited over the past two months to participate in trainings related to international human rights mechanisms and the sustainable development goals (SDGs), at regional and national levels. Throughout these advocacy workshops, UPR Info Asia has emphasized the importance of community representation at the international level and the need to engage with CSOs throughout different UN human rights mechanisms so they can become the “agents of change” in their respective countries. By doing so, governments are kept accountable on their international human rights and developmental obligations.
True human rights improvements cannot be achieved if local voices and marginalised communities are not put at the center of international, regional and national responses, and UPR Info Asia is committed to support an inclusive and equal engagement of communities from all human rights sectors throughout the UPR process.
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) Advocacy Training
On 18 July 2016, Emilie Pradichit, UPR Info Asia Regional Representative, provided training on the UPR process to AFAD Campaign Staff from 8 Asian countries: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Timor-Leste, and South Korea. The UPR training took place in Bangkok, Thailand, and was part of the yearly 'Advocacy Training' provided to the campaign staff of AFAD, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, based in Manila, Philippines. The goal of the training was to seize the opportunity of the upcoming 3rd UPR Cycle to ensure issues of enforced disappearances are effectively addressed at the UN Human Rights Council. Throughout the training, AFAD Campaign members shared their past experiences engaging in the UPR process, their challenges and lessons learned. UPR Info Asia provided the best practices of effective communities’ engagement in the UPR process in Asia, and stressed the importance for AFAD members to be a part of a National CSO Coalition. Only by forming a coalition can CSOs be best positioned to equally represent all human rights issues to Recommending States and the State Under Review. AFAD Campaign Staff leveraged on the training to start strategising on their UPR engagement for the 3rd UPR cycle – and UPR Info Asia underlined it will engage with AFAD members in countries where it has a specific focus for the next UPR cycle, and is ready to provide technical support to others.
On 23-24 July 2016, IMPECT (Inter Mountain Peoples’ Education and Culture in Thailand Association) organised a two day workshop on the importance of data collection for human rights mechanisms, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The human rights workshop brought together 45 Indigenous Representatives from the Northern Region of Thailand, experiencing human rights challenges in the face of development projects. Most shared similar struggles related to the negative impact of businesses and development on their rights, health and livelihoods; such as land grabbing, land eviction, but also racial discrimination as well as lack of access to social services due to the statelessness status of those not recognized by the Royal Thai Government. The aim of the training was to provide participants with the basic understanding of data collection and why their voices are important to reflect the realities on the ground. Lawyers from the Center for Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights (CPCR) explained how human rights principles relate to indigenous peoples’ rights and community rights. Emilie Pradichit, UPR Info Asia Regional Representative provided an overview of the international human rights monitoring system and emphasized the need for indigenous communities to engage with all UN human rights mechanisms (Treaty Bodies, Special Procedures and the UPR) as “truth telling” and develop “credible evidence” necessary to build evidence-based human rights documentation. She then provided a list of information to be submitted to the different UN human rights mechanisms. Ekachai Pinkaew, Human Rights Officer at the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT), underlined the importance for local communities to engage at the national level and provided training on complaints to the NHRCT in order to launch investigations and create “credible evidence”. As a follow-up, UPR Info Asia will organise four sub-regional trainings on 'The Importance of Credible Evidence for Evidence-Based Human Rights Documentation' in Thailand, throughout October and November 2016, to support the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR.
Linking the SDGs Follow-up & Review (FUR) with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
On 15-16 August 2016, the Asia Development Alliance (ADA), Forum-Asia, and the Asia Democracy Network (ADN), organised the 'Asian Civil Society Forum on SDGs 16', in Bangkok, Thailand. The role and strategies of CSOs regarding the effective implementation of SDGs was discussed, with a focus on SDG 16 "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels". Emilie Pradichit, UPR Info Asia Regional Representative, was invited to hold a session on the importance to link the SDGs follow-up and review with the UPR. To ensure an efficient and inclusive follow-up and review of the SDGs at the national and global levels, the UPR has been given special attention as a mechanism that could serve as a model for a multi-stakeholder SDG review process. Based on this, the aspiration for the voluntary country review at the global level should be to establish a culture of universal participation similar to the UPR. In line with the 4½-year cycle of the UPR, a 5-year cycle for country reviews at the High Level Political Forum would ensure that countries participate in three reviews until 2030. The session held by UPR Info Asia aimed at proposing strategies to promote and strengthen civil society participation in the SDGs follow up and review process, with lessons learned from the UPR. It was critical that participants seize the opportunity to link their engagement throughout the UPR process with the SDGs’ Follow-Up & Review to better hold governments accountable on their human rights and development obligations, in line with SDG Targets 17.18 and 17.19.
Ensuring the most marginalised, migrant workers and persons with disabilities, access the UPR
On 2 September 2016, UPR Info Asia was invited by the Sangsan Anakot Yawachon Development Project, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to give training on Thailand 2nd UPR cycle and the strategies for effective monitoring and follow-up by CSOs. Sangsan works with Youth from marginalised communities, including LGBTI Youth, Youth with disabilities, Youth who are migrant workers from the Mekong region, and indigenous Youth. Matcha Phorn-in, Director of Sangsan and core member of the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR’s Secretariat, stressed on the need for migrant workers and persons with disabilities based in Chiang Mai and its areas, to engage in the UPR follow-up phase of Thailand, and be part of the CSO Coalition’s work in developing UPR Implementation Plans to engage constructively with the Royal Thai Government (RTG). Emilie Pradichit, UPR Info Asia Representative, provided an overview of UPR recommendations received and accepted by the RTG related to migration and disabilities and engaged participants in brainstorming discussions on the key role they could play in supporting the implementation of these recommendations and in guaranteeing the regional needs and realities of their communities are taken into account in the UPR follow-up phase. Participants included persons with disabilities as well as migrant workers who committed to engage and work with the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR in Thailand’s 2nd cycle UPR implementation phase.
Note: This activity is a follow-up meeting to the CSO Strategy Workshop on Implementation of UPR Recommendations: “Working together to foster solidarity in Thailand 2nd Cycle UPR Follow-up phase”, which was held on 23-27 August, in Bangkok, Thailand, and was organized by UPR Info Asia, the Working Group of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand for Following Up and Assessing the State’s Compliance with Recommendations upon Thailand 2nd UPR (WG-NHRCT), the Thai CSOs Coalition for the UPR, with the financial support of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the EU Delegation to Thailand.