States and UPR Info share best practices for specific action oriented recommendations

On Thursday 5 October 2017, UPR Info, in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands, the Permanent Mission of Haiti, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), delivered a seminar on the Role of Recommending States at the UPR. The seminar gathered together approximately 30 Representatives of Permanent Missions, as well as some NGOs, and featured a variety of presentations on the UPR from the perspective of Recommending States (RS).

The first observation, made by Mr. Rochus Pronk, Representative of the Permanent Mission of The Netherlands, highlighted the importance of ensuring universal coverage and equal treatment for all States as this is the quintessential feature of the mechanism. Further, he explained that the UPR is an ongoing and continuous process, and that recommendations need to be followed-up on. For that purpose, several actions may be taken such as making high quality, action-oriented and specific recommendations, and producing mid-term reports which are an important tool to measure progress. Mr. Pronk pointed out how crucial collaboration and coordination with all key actors is, highlighting the key role of Embassies.

Inputs on how to engage in the UPR process and on the benefits of meeting civil society including saving time, receiving information up-to-date and understanding better the situation in the country were given by Ms. Mona M’Bikay, Executive Director of UPR Info. She also took the opportunity to invite all Permanent Missions to engage in UPR Info’s Pre-sessions Programme.

Mr. Roland Chauville, of UPR Info, presented the different challenges faced when making recommendations. He reiterated that States can “note” recommendations but not reject them. However, whilst some recommendations do not enjoy the support of the State under Review, there is a very high acceptance rate at the UPR (73,4%). He further mentioned that limiting the number of recommendations per RS could be detrimental to the UPR for several reasons, focusing primarily on the fact that limiting the number of recommendations would in turn limit the number of issues raised at the UPR, thus the mechanism would lose an element of its universality. Finally, UPR Info gave an in-depth explanation on how to make Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Timebound (S.M.A.R.T) recommendations.

On another note, Mr. Gianni Magazzeni from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), shed light on the linkages between the human rights agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He stated that the key issue is to leverage better the human rights mechanisms country by country and pointed out the development of a human rights index. In addition, Mr. Magazzeni strongly recommended States to have a mechanism of coordination for reporting and follow-up. More importantly, he encouraged voluntarily pledges and mid-term reports.

To conclude, Mr. Guy Saint Amour, Representative of the Permanent Mission of Haiti, focused on the experience of Haiti as a Recommending State. He explained the procedure they follow when making recommendations, primarily in Haiti’s practice of referring to previous recommendation, made by a variety of RS. He also emphasized the importance of bilateral meetings with the Permanent Missions, civil society and human rights defenders, throughout the process of the review and the use of the S.M.A.R.T recommendations model.

The next UPR Session will be 6 – 17 November 2017.