The UPR Model experience in Togo
The Collective of Associations Against Impunity in Togo (Le Collectif des Associations Contre l'Impunité au Togo/ CACIT) and the National Human Rights Commission (la Commission Nationale des Droits de l’Homme/CNDH) of Togo led a model Universal Periodic Review exercise in collaboration with UPR Info. The event, the first of its kind in Togo, was a great success. Approximately fifty Togolese students from public and private universities participated in the simulation that was held in Lomé from 22 to 24 March 2023.
UPR Info’s In-country Programme (ICP) helped facilitate the event by providing the materials for the simulation, offering online trainings to participants prior to the event and training individuals to serve as facilitators in Lomé. Representatives from the ICP also attended the event online, which was broadcast live via social networks.
As in the real UPR, students simulated different key steps of the process, as the Working Group and the Adoption of the Outcome Reports, as well as advocacy initiatives, as UPR Info's Pre-sessions and the Human Rights Cafe. Three-member teams were created to role play the main UPR stakeholders. More specifically, for this simulation students represented Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Belgium for the States under Review (SuR), and Mali, DRC, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Ukraine for the Recommending States. National and international civil society organisations (CSOs) and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) were also represented in the simulation with students representing Amnesty International, Plan International, World Organisation Against Torture, the National Human Rights Commissions of Mali and DRC, and Belgium’s Federal Institute for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights among others. Each team prepared and submitted UPR reports as well as developed their statements ahead of the simulation days.
The model UPR took place in front of a jury who awarded prizes for student groups in each of the stakeholder categories. The first day was devoted to the Pre-sessions followed by the Human Rights Cafe allowing the students representing CSOs and NHRIs to continue their advocacy with the Recommending States. During the Cafe, the main themes discussed included migration, people with disabilities, children’s rights, women’s rights, discrimination, prison conditions and torture. At the end of the first day, the Recommending States had to finalise their recommendations in preparation of the Working Group reviews. The following day consisted of the reviews of Mali, the DRC, and Belgium with the Recommending States sharing the recommendations they prepared for each country. States under Review presented their national reports and answered questions submitted in advance of the review by the Recommending States. The rest of the day was dedicated to the advocacy for acceptance of recommendations received as well as debates for the States under Review to decide which recommendations to support or note. The last day was devoted to a simulation of the adoption of the UPR outcomes at the Human Rights Council session. SuR provided their position (supported or noted) on each recommendation received. Other stakeholders, such as CSOs and NHRIs also took the floor to present their suggestions for the implementation phase.
The students participating in the UPR Model showed interest in engaging in the promotion of human rights through the UPR. As a result, one of the initiatives they suggested to organize in the near future consisted in the creation of a students’ network on human rights. CACIT agreed to accompany and support this type of initiatives and to continue to make the UPR more accessible for students across the country.
Overall, CACIT and the CNDH attribute the success of the model UPR to the collaboration of co-organisers and the engagement of students.