Pre-sessions on countries to be reviewed at UPR 20

More than 60 NGOs presented the human rights situation in 12 countries before the international community during the UPR pre-session held in Geneva from the 6h to the 9th of October 2014. The meetings were organised in the lead-up to the 20th UPR Working Group session (27 October – 7 November 2014).

The October pre-sessions were once again a success with an high number of diplomats attending them. UPR Info's pre-sessions have become a key step in the framework of the UPR process: they provide a unique platform for dialogue and interaction. This was the eighth round of pre-session meetings that UPR Info has been organising since 2012. Over the course of three years of the meetings more than 420 organisations have already taken part in the pre-sessions, sharing key information from the ground with dozens of diplomats.

In this regard Mr Amadou S. Janneh, from the organisation Coalition for Change – The Gambia, stated: “... The session on the Gambia offered our group the opportunity to present specific, first-hand information to a crucial audience in the UPR process. We also hope to focus greater public attention on the issues raised at the national level...”

The October pre-sessions demonstrated once again that these meetings constitute an important opportunity to bring together, in a unique forum for dialogue, civil society, NHRIs, and diplomatic missions to discuss the human rights situation of States one month prior to their review. This time the focus of the discussion was on the following States: Angola, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan and Madagascar.

The pre-session featured presentations by NGO and NHRI representatives followed by a discussion on the status of implementation of the recommendations made during the first UPR cycle. A number of pressing human rights issues were brought to the attention of the diplomats, such as death penalty, torture and shrinking space for civil society in the Gambia; women's rights and human rights defenders in Angola; indigenous rights, children’s rights and women’s rights in Bolivia; abortion, right to water and environmental rights in El Salvador; NHRI, migrant’s rights and LGBT rights in Italy; impunity, rights of persons with disabilities and minority rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina; arbitrary detention, rights of the child, civil society space and civil and political rights in Egypt; minority rights and freedom of expression in Iraq; death penalty, freedom of expression and association and LGBT rights in Iran; democracy, rule of law and minority rights in the Fiji; torture, and freedom of assembly and association in Kazakhstan; access to education and democratic process and elections in Madagascar.

The pre-session ensured that key concerns of civil society actors were discussed in preparation of the UPR. Grassroots national organisations and human rights defenders as well as international NGOs, such as Alkarama, Article 19, FIACAT, FIDH, International Service for Human Rights, and Reporters without Borders, provided diplomats with an assessment of the actual human rights situation in the States under Review, highlighting key developments and remaining challenges faced by those States.

We look forward to continuing to bring all UPR actors together in December, for the last pre-session of the year, where we will consider states to be reviewed during the 21st session of the UPR.