The UPR: a lever to integrate a gender perspective in the SDGs

An annual discussion on the Integration of a Gender Perspective was held on 15th September 2017 during which speakers – including Ms. Salma Nims (Secretary General of the Commission for Women in Jordan), Ms. Dorothy Nyasulu (UNFPA Assistant Representative, Malawi Country Office), Ms. Eva Grambye (Deputy Executive Director, International Division, Danish Institute for Human Rights) and Mr. Roland Chauville (outgoing Executive Director of UPR Info) – gave insights on challenges faced in addressing the issue of gender equality, as well as their views on the role of the UPR mechanism and recommendations. They also had the opportunity to answer to questions highlighting the strong linkages between human rights mechanisms and Agenda 2030.

All panellists agreed that human rights mechanisms and the 2030 Agenda are closely related and complementary in their objectives. The emphasis was on the universality of the UPR mechanism which, according to Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein (High Commission for Human Rights), plays a crucial role as a forum for making recommendations, sharing good practices, and reporting in progress upholding human rights.

Mr. Roland Chauville stated that the UPR acted as a catalyst which has strengthened cooperation between human rights bodies. He also highlighted that through the UPR awareness of sensitive and crucial topics such as female genital mutilation has been raised. It is worth noting that during the first and second cycle of the UPR, among the thousands of recommendations made (57,686), a considerable number focused on women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality (10,700). However, all speakers deplored the fact that the recommendations were not sufficiently specific, especially those made relating to SDG Goal 5.

“The UPR could be a strong vehicle to implement the SDGs”, outlined Mr. Chauville. Indeed, States should make more recommendations at the UPR related to economic, social and cultural rights and to political rights, but they should also refer to specific targets and goals. More specifically, States are encouraged to make S.M.A.R.T recommendations. Further, UPR recommendations should be implemented in a manner that considers gender disparities, and States must engage in implementing recommendations they received and in reporting, and also integrate the gender dimension in all SDGs and not only Goal 5. Despite efforts made by governments to achieve gender equality, women and girls continue to see their rights violated, illustrating the importance of multiple actors and partners – including National Human Rights Institutes (NHRIs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) - to contribute to meeting the SDGs and especially Goal 5. Indeed, their role in supporting reporting and follow-up to UPR recommendations as well as advising governments on gender issues and gender mainstreaming is crucial.

To conclude, Mr. Chauville reiterated that the UPR has been instrumental in the advancement of gender equality on the international agenda and equality and women’s rights have become a permanent and integrated discussion by all States. Finally, Mr. Chauville stated that proposes a new strategy for States in the third cycle of the UPR, suggesting that one year after the adoption, each State should report on five recommendations of its choice during the Item 6 General Debate. Full statement is available here