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UPR boosts cooperation between States and civil society
Thursday, 26 July 2012 08:54


A workshop held this month in Liberia has shown the potential of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism for increasing cooperation between government, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and human rights defenders for the advancement of human rights.

ISHR training in Monrovia takes place


The training took place in Monrovia from 9 to 12 July. It was organised by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), in collaboration with the Liberia Coalition for Human Rights Defenders, and the West African Human Rights Defenders Network.


The workshop brought together government officials, national human rights institutions and human rights defenders from Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia to examine their countries’ human rights progress. There was a particularly focus on recommendations made to States under the UPR, and also on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.


Manager of ISHR’s regional human rights defenders programme, Clement Voulé says he was greatly encouraged by the cooperative dynamic between civil society, NHRIs and ministries of justice and human rights.


‘All the participants seemed to have an open approach to one another, together with a desire to advance human rights by seeing UPR recommendations implemented in their countries.


‘There’s the sense that the UPR has boosted the priority of human rights at the national level. It’s also been a catalyst for encouraging the government, NHRI and civil society to work together toward this common goal.’


He says it was interesting that all the participants of the workshop were already familiar with the UPR mechanism, even if they had never been exposed to other UN human rights mechanisms, such as the treaty bodies.


‘While it’s a good thing that the UPR has managed to garner such a high profile, this does present the threat that UPR recommendations will be prioritised over recommendations made by other human rights mechanisms.


‘It will be important therefore that UPR recommendations support those made by these other mechanisms, such as the treaty bodies or special rapporteurs, by referring to the action points identified by them and, certainly, never contradicting them.’


Mr Voulé says Guinea had taken a proactive approach to the UPR and is in the process of finalising a draft action plan on how it intends to implement its UPR recommendations. The meeting in Monrovia provided the ideal forum for the government, civil society and NHRI to work together to develop this further.


‘National action plans that implicate all government ministries are absolutely essential for the implementation of UPR recommendations because otherwise any “commitments” are just rhetoric. The necessity of developing and implementing national action plans is one of the recommendations that the participants identified in an end of session statement.


‘It was excellent to see Guinea using the workshop as an opportunity to further develop its plan, and Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire using the opportunity to get discussion going about how such a plan would be put together when the participants returned to their respective countries.’


A more disappointing observation was the currently low level of investment in or engagement by NHRIs in many of the countries represented. ‘One of the greatest opportunities for NHRIs is to play a role of convenor of the process at the national level – helping to bring together State and civil society,’ he says.

The NHRI of Sierra Leone was a good example of the role these institutions could play in their countries. ‘Sierra Leone’s NHRI has worked with its government and offices of the United Nations to raise awareness of the UPR process and to link UPR recommendations with other government processes in the country.’

Participants of ISHR training session in Monrovia



Participants recommended that each country create a core group – encompassing civil society, NHRI, State and other stakeholder representatives – to monitor the implementation of UPR recommendations.


Another important recommendation related to a severe lack of country reports submitted the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Liberia currently has 15 reports outstanding, Sierra Leone 14, Ivory Coast 10, and Guinea 7. Without the submission of these reports to the African Commission,many serious human rights situations have never been able to benefit from the Commission’s input.


The workshop participants recommended that all overdue reports be submitted to the African Commission.


You can read the participants’ full end of session statement and recommendations in English and French. The workshop was made possible by the support of Irish Aid and Diakonie.



Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 08:59
© by The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 2019