November saw diplomats from all States and regions take the floor in Room XX of Palais des Nations to make recommendations during the 23rd Session of the UPR Working Group. Over two weeks, the human rights situation in the fourteen States under review was widely discussed, seeing all manners of issues raised. Recommendations in response to the migrant crisis were made during several reviews, calling for increased protection for asylum seekers and improved conditions in processing centres. In addition to monitoring the reviews, UPR Info was active in providing several UPR trainings to both civil society and government actors at home and abroad, as well as engaging its follow-up programme in Mongolia and Armenia. Finally, preparations are in full swing for the next round of UPR Info Pre-sessions, which will take place in Geneva on 15-17 December 2015.
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23rd Working Group of the UPR
The 23rd Session of the UPR Working Group was convened at the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG), on 2-13 November 2015. The States reviewed were: Australia; Austria; Georgia; Lebanon; Mauritania; Micronesia; Myanmar; Nauru; Nepal; Oman; Rwanda; Sao Tome & Principe; St Kitts & Nevis; and St Lucia. Many recommendations from the floor addressed issues that national and international civil society organisations (CSOs) had raised during the October Pre-sessions. The 14-day UPR session was live monitored through our social media channels, and all the related documents and webcasts can be found on our website. The final adoption of the Working Group reports will take place in March 2016 at the Human Council Session. Many States seize the occasion to consult with CSOs and NHRIs before considering their position on the recommendations received, as recently in Malawi and Mongolia cases.
UPR Info’s next round of Pre-sessions will take place in Geneva on 15-17 December 2015. This three-day international human rights conference will act as a platform to discuss the human rights situation in nine of the States to be reviewed at the 24th UPR Working Group (January 2016): Belgium; Denmark; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Paraguay; Sierra Leone; Singapore; and Somalia. All diplomatic missions and NGOs are welcome to attend.
Publication on best practices in national reports
UPR Info is pleased to share its latest publication, Identifying best practices: An analysis of national reports. This analysis is the result of a study of a total of 84 national reports submitted by States reviewed during the first six sessions of the second UPR cycle (sessions 13 to 18 - May 2012 to January 2014). This study identifies best practices that States should take on board while drafting their national reports. The publication, and other useful documents for States, can be downloaded directly from the UPR Info website here.
Broad UPR training to State and non-States stakeholders
UPR Info provided a series of trainings on the UPR process in recent weeks, both in Geneva and in-country.
On 27 October 2015, a presentation was made to 80 diplomats of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brussels. UPR Info Executive Director, Roland Chauville, discussed the impact of the UPR, the role of Belgium in the mechanism and provided insights on how to ensure that recommendations made by the delegation are precise and action-oriented. Read more about it here.
UPR Info travelled to Chișinău, Moldova, on 16-20 November 2015 to provide UPR training to over twenty five local human rights defenders. The two workshops were held for partners of Soros Foundation Moldova, and Civil Rights Defenders respectively. The aim of the training was to assist participants prepare for each level of CSO interaction with the UPR process, from how to write stakeholder submissions, to what kind of advocacy activities could be undertaken to best influence the recommendations made by States. Moldova will be one of the final States to be reviewed during the last session of the second cycle of the UPR in October 2016.
UPR Info Follow-up Programme
On 15 October 2015, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mongolia and UPR Info, thanks to the support of the United Nations Country Team and the Open Society Forum, organised a Dialogue-Day among government representatives, UN agencies and CSOs to discuss the implementation phase of UPR recommendations. The October meeting was the climax of a seven-month project that started in April 2015 with the Pre-sessions on Mongolia, continued in May 2015 in Ulaanbaatar with a workshop for CSOs and will continue in 2017 with the mid-term report of Mongolia. Read more.
On 23 November 2015, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Armenia and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the support of UPR Info and the Open Society Foundation Armenia, co-organised a coordinating meeting among government representatives, UN agencies and civil society organisations (CSOs) to discuss the implementation phase of UPR recommendations.
The dialogue-day was open by the Deputy Ministry of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. Ashot Hovakimian, and the UNDP Resident Coordinator a.i. Ms. Claire Medina. The dialogue-day has to be seen as a starting point, the different stakeholders involved in the process will have to continue the dialogue and will have to meet on a regular basis. The Government also committed to publishing a UPR mid-term report in 2017, so it is hoped to see such meetings to happen at least twice a year. Several more could be organised between thematic CSOs, UN, and Armenian ministries to discuss the UPR implementation by themes.
A Seminar for Recommending States SMART RECS REQUIRED
Over 50 Permanent Missions in Geneva attended UPR Info’s most recent seminar on ‘The role of Recommending States at the UPR’. The seminar was the second of its kind on the topic, and was a joint collaboration with the UPR Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The aim of this seminar was to stress the different roles recommending States can take throughout the entire process of the UPR and to promote the use of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) recommendations at the UPR Working Group Sessions. Chief of the OHCHR UPR Branch, Ms Shahrzad Tadibakhsh, shared with the participants several practical examples on how recommending States can participate successfully in the UPR, and called on States to engage further in the follow up of the UPR; be that by bi-lateral engagement, steering development aid towards actions that implement recommendations or by contributing to the UN Trust Fund for Implementation of the UPR. Read more here.