Union Makes Strength in the UPR

The recent online launch of the "Universal Periodic Review: A Practical Guide for Civil Society to Build National Coalitions" on March 27 signifies a major step towards fostering civil society engagement in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).  

Developed by the Brazilian Institute for Development and Human Rights (IDDH) with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Geneva, this publication represents a key tool for organisations worldwide committed to promoting and defending human rights through active participation in the UPR mechanism.

Whether experienced participants or newcomers to the UPR and other UN human rights mechanisms, the Practical Guide provides practical insights and strategies for establishing national coalitions dedicated to advancing human rights agendas. 

“...Cooperation among civil society organisations, working collaboratively in networks and coalitions, emerges as one of the most powerful and effective strategies”, 

Fernanda Lapa, Executive Director of IDDH and author of the publication.

According to the author, national coalitions not only lend greater credibility to the efforts of civil society but also enable the efficient sharing of resources and knowledge. Lapa emphasised that a collective voice among civil society organisations significantly amplifies their influence, making it an important strategy for those committed to advocating for human rights.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating and managing civil society coalitions, given the diverse political, social, economic, and cultural contexts. However, the authors of the publication present a three-step approach that can be adapted and replicated at various stages of the coalition-building process: awareness raising, advocacy, and coordination. For each of these phases, specific actions are proposed to design broader strategies aimed at strengthening civil society coalitions' engagement with any international human rights mechanism.




For instance, during the advocacy phase, one suggested action is attending UPR Info's Pre-session in Geneva, which offers an opportunity to engage with permanent missions of other states and propose new recommendations. Furthermore, the guide offers practical advice on best practices for preparing for Pre-sessions. For example, if any organisation within the coalition is selected, it's recommended to prepare a joint speech and obtain group approval for its focus and content. This strategy has been successfully implemented by  the Brazilian Coalition of NGOs (UPR Brazil Coalition) as well as Peru’s UPR Coalition.

According to Sofía Garcia, member of IPRODES and coordinator of the Peruvian UPR Coalition, advocacy work remains crucial even after the Pre-sessions and the UPR of the country. This involves translating recommendations into accessible and local language, as well as following up and monitoring progress. To this end, they have introduced online meetings, such as the "Jueves de EPU," among coalition members to facilitate ongoing discussions and actions related to human rights recommendations.

The guide highlights potential challenges, alerting readers to the obstacles they may face in creating national coalitions, and provides practical tips to assist in overcoming these challenges. 

The publication is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.



Countries: Brazil Peru