The Universal Periodic Review is a unique mechanism of the United Nations aiming at improving the human rights situation in each of the 193 UN Member States.
Within this mechanism, NGOs have a limited yet very important role to play.
1. Before the review
NGOs can meet with the authorities to raise their concerns on the human rights situation in the framework of the national consultations held by the State under Review to write the National report.
NGOs can also send information to the OHCHR on the human rights situation since the previous review in the country under review and the progress made to implement recommendations from the previous cycle. This information will be considered for the 10 page summary of the OHCHR that will be presented as one of the reports under which the Working Group review will be based.
In this context NGO submissions must be limited to 2815 words for individual organisations and to 5630 words for coalitions. All NGOs can participate, with or without the ECOSOC status, such as human rights defenders, trade unions, women's groups, lawyers' association, etc.
As NGOs do not have the right to take the floor during the review, they can lobby States in order to bring to their attention specific issues and to obtain that such issues be addressed during the interactive dialogue in the form of questions and/or recommendations.
Lobbying can be made both in Geneva and in the State under Review. NGOs should concentrate on specific issues and for each suggest 3-4 questions and recommendations. They should identify and contact States that will be interested in these issues.
2. During the review
NGOs are not allowed to take the floor but they can be present in the room.
3. During the plenary adoption
The report of the working group is adopted by the Human Rights Council in a plenary session a few months after the review. During this 1 hour adoption, 20 minutes are allocated to 10 NGOs to deliver a 2 minute oral statement on the review.
4. After the review - Follow-up
NGOs have a great role to play between two reviews. They can:
- Make those accepted recommendations and pledges public;
- Monitor their implementation;
- Engage in dialogue with the State reviewed to participate in their implementation
- Report to the Human Rights Council about the progresses made to implement the recommendations.
At the next review, it will be reviewed on the implementation of those recommendations and on the human rights situation in the country since the previous review.
In short, NGO participation can take five different forms:
- Participating in national consultations
- Sending submissions to the Office of the High Commissioner
- Lobbying members of the Working Group
- Taking the floor before the adoption of the outcome
- Monitoring the implementation of UPR recommendations.
To know more about NGO participation at the UPR, please visit www.upr-info.org