HRC29 discusses increased financial resources and multiskateholder participation to strengthen the UPR

On 26 June 2015, during the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC29), UPR Info participated in the General Debate on Item 6; the UPR. During this debate, several States and NGOs took the floor to underline the current challenges of the UPR, while recognising its added value to share best practices and improve the human rights situation on the ground. The main issues raised were as follows: The UN Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance; the Follow-up to the UPR; quality of recommendations; the role of civil society and human rights defenders; and the role of Parliamentarians in the UPR.

1. The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance
India and the Maldives underlined the key role that the UN Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance, provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), plays to help countries improve their national capacity to implement recommendations emanating from the UPR. They welcomed assistance through the Voluntary Fund, especially for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and took the opportunity to thank States that have contributed to the Voluntary Fund. Angola was pleased to have received technical assistance in drawing up its first and second UPRs, and encouraged the OHCHR to continue to offer capacity and technical assistance. Morocco emphasised the need to step up technical and financial assistance for developing countries so that they may fully implement the recommendations. Paraguay raised concern over the lack of resources in the Voluntary Fund and urged states to send in voluntary contributions.

2, The Follow-Up
States and civil society alike promoted, one after the other, the role of comprehensive follow-up in order to strengthen the UPR. Tunisia, on behalf of the Arab Group, reaffirmed that the implementation of recommendations was vital and underlined that the outcome depends on the commitment to implement such recommendations. The State also called for quality recommendations and encouraged States to create a clear plan of action. Paraguay and Albania also emphasised that the success of the UPR depends on the extent of the follow-up, and Burkina Faso encouraged States to follow up and implement their recommendations. Albania attached most importance to the implementation and follow-up stage and emphasised that a mid-term report is an excellent opportunity to continue dialogue for the promotion and protection of human rights. Angola shared the view that States should frequently present progress reports on the implementation of their recommendations. Taking the Counsel floor during the civil society stakeholder segment, UPR Info underlined that reporting on the implementation of previous recommendations is of high importance to ensure national and international accountability and transparency. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan urged the HRC to adopt measures to ensure the implementation of recommendations, and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain stressed that the UPR is only as effective as the implementation of the recommendations.

3. Quality of Recommendations
Morocco highlighted that, according to data from UPR Info, 65% of recommendations are vague and many are redundant. The State advised that in order to improve the success of the UPR, it is necessary to improve the phrasing of recommendations in order to make them more practical. The Arab Commission for Human Rights also stressed that vague recommendations should be avoided at all cost.

4. Role of Civil Society and Human Rights Defenders
Most participants agreed on the important role that civil society plays in the UPR. Albania underlined the value in involving different stakeholders in the process including the opportunity to share best practices. Latvia, on behalf of the European Union, expressed serious concern over reports of harassment of civil society. UPR Info emphasised cooperation with civil society as a key element of effective national reporting, with such multistakeholder collaboration being enshrined in HRC Resolution 5/1. The statement expressed that States should do more to report on the inclusion of civil society in the UPR process.  International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) welcomed recommendations concerning civil society space. It further urged States to accept and implement recommendations to protect human rights defenders and to facilitate peaceful protests.

5. Role of Parliamentarians in the UPR
Latvia highlighted that up to 80% of UPR recommendations include the involvement of parliamentarians and underlined the importance of such collaboration. The Arab Commission for Human Rights supported the European Union’s opinion that Parliamentarians have a critical role to play, and stated that the spirit of national reports should be one of real cooperation. Therefore Parliaments must be involved in the compilation of reports.

The oral statement delivered by UPR Info during the General Debate is available to view here.