UPR Info was invited on 17 and 18 February in Bucharest, Romania, to participate in a seminar organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the role of Parliamentarians at the Human Rights Council.
Entitled "Translating international human rights commitments into national realities: the contribution of parliaments to the work of the United Nations Human Rights Council", the seminar brought together over 50 members of Parliaments from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Hungary, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, and Turkey. The 1,5 day meeting discussed the common challenges in Central and Eastern Europe, the role of parliaments in protecting human rights at the national level, parliamentary contribution to the functioning of the UPR and CEDAW, national case studies of involvement in the UPR, and the place for human rights in the post-2015 development agenda.
UPR Info’s Executive director, Roland Chauville, presented some figures about overall States’ participation in the first cycle of the UPR and about the countries present at the seminar such as the number of recommendations received, accepted, rejected and specific. He then explained the important role of civil society in the UPR, notably for their expertise on human rights and their knowledge of the human rights situation on the ground. Finally, he listed the different ways that civil society and parliamentarians can cooperate together such as:
- Raising awareness in order to put the UPR on the agenda of the Government and the Parliament;
- Setting up a human rights committee where civil society could participate;
- Conducting a public hearing to present the national report and where Parliamentarians and civil society could comment the report;
- Being included by the Government in the decision to accept or reject recommendations;
- Meeting regularly to plan the implementation of recommendations.