Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) - Take Action
Key moments for CSOs to engage in the UPR
As described in the section "What is the UPR?", this mechanism is a full-circle process comprised of three key stages:
Preparation for the Review
Between the Review and Adoption
Implementation of the Recommendations
It is a cyclical process because each review process is based on the implementation of previously received recommendations.
All the Stakeholders can get involved in each phase in a different way. The following section will show how Civil Society can get involved at each stage. You can also refer to the "Documentation for CSOs" section, for complementary documentation that could be useful.
1. Preparation for the Review
As the date of the Geneva-based UPR review approaches, States, UN agencies, and other stakeholders are called upon to submit their reports on the human rights situation in the State under Review (SuR).
The SuR is strongly encouraged to conduct national consultations with civil society actors to ensure a realistic portrayal of the human rights situation in the country.
Let us see how CSOs can get involved.
Take part in national consultations
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) can seize this opportunity to run a national campaign to promote the UPR and bring it to the attention of the general public and the media.
Submit information on the human rights situation in the State under Review (SuR)
Any civil society actor can submit information to the OHCHR, with or without ECOSOC status. Submissions must follow the OHCHR Technical guidelines. Please read the OHCHR's guide on the online registration system and submit your report six to eight months before the session. Submission deadlines regarding the entire fourth cycle are available here or on UPR Info's country page.
It is essential that CSOs engage in advocacy with Recommending States as this can lead to the incorporation of their priority issues in UPR advanced questions and recommendations. You can conduct strategic advocacy both in the State under Review (SuR) and in Geneva :
- In the State under Review (SuR), conduct advocacy through embassies three to four months prior to the review.
- In Geneva, conduct advocacy one month prior to the review. Liaise with the diplomat who is in charge of the UPR/the Human Rights Council. You can find the contact details of all Permanent Missions in Geneva here.
To facilitate CSO advocacy, UPR Info organises Pre-sessions. One month before the review, we organise a one-hour meeting on the SuR and give the floor to national and international CSOs to brief Permanent Missions about the human rights situation in the country. This format can also be replicated in SuR embassies two-three months before the UPR.
When meeting with delegates, whether in the SuR or in Geneva, it is important to raise priority issues and to be brief. For this purpose, UPR Info encourages CSOs to compile UPR Factsheets, which are a collection of individual documents, each focusing on a particular human rights theme. Each factsheet presents four to five specific questions/draft recommendations in a short document of one or two pages (maximum). If you want to see examples of Factsheets, you can refer to our "Documentation for CSOs" section.
2. Between the Review and Adoption
Although the UPR is only between UN Member States, between the review and the adoption, there are different ways in which Civil Society can participate. Let us see on each moment how to get involved.
During the Review
Only UN Member States can take the floor during Working Group sessions, CSOs with ECOSOC status can however be present in the room. For this reason, there are many ways CSOs can have an impact on the UPR during the review.
CSOs can get involved as follows
Hold a side event during the Working Group session
Side events should not be organised the day before the review for advocacy purposes, but one-two months in advance. Side events can also be organised after the review to debrief on its content and the responses given by the Government. Moreover, CSOs can hold press conferences and/or issue press statements to share their assessment of the review.
Organise a screening of the webcast in your country
Each review is “webcasted,” meaning it is accessible live and in archive on the UN website. As a result, CSOs can virtually attend the Working Group Session. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the process and know the recommendations prior to the publication of the draft report.
After the Review & During the Adoption
Prior to the adoption of the Working Group’s report, the State under Review (SuR) indicates the recommendations it accepts, notes, or leaves pending.
The State under Review (SuR) provides its final responses to UPR recommendations during the adoption of the report at the HRC plenary session (approximately 4 months after the review).
In the meantime, CSOs can:
- Engage with the Government of the SuR, NHRIs, development agencies, and embassies in order to influence the adoption of UPR recommendations.
- Ensure that the Government submits its “addendum” to the HRC containing clear and detailed responses to each recommendation received.
During the adoption of the report at the HRC, 20 minutes are allocated to accredited CSOs to make a statement. To take the floor, submit a request using the online form. Please check the exact date and time for submissions here and read the OHCHR guide.
CSOs can deliver statements by video and submit written statements.
For more information, you can visit HRC website.
3. Implementation of the Recommendations
To improve the human rights situation on the ground, CSOs must systematically follow up on progress made by the State and remaining challenges regarding UPR outcomes. In this context CSOs can
Developing Action Strategy Plans
CSOs can become implementing partners and develop “Action Strategy Plans” to encourage inclusive and sustainable implementation with the government and NHRIs.
Submit mid-term reports
Halfway through the cycle, the State under Review (SuR) is expected whereas CSOs are encouraged to submit a mid-term report on UPR implementation.
Usually, implementation is categorised into three levels: fully, partially, not implemented.
Some mid-term reports use a “traffic light” system to display the rate of implementation of recommendations, and assess recommendations thematically.