Universal Periodic Review
NOW is the time to challenge and lay pressure on reporting countries and the Working Group to ensure that education rights are properly addressed!
For the 12th session (October 2011), the following countries will be examined, so NOW is the time to influence or 'shadow' the official reports: Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Antigua and Barbuda, Iceland, Lithuania and Moldova.
Submissions in relation to the countries scheduled to be reviewed at the 12th session of the Working Group on the UPR (October 2011) have been sent and you should get ready to influence the members of the Human Rights Council in their deliberations in October.
Submissions in relation to the 14 countries scheduled to be reviewed at the 13th session - and thereby the 2nd circle of the UPR - in early 2012 should soon be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Finland, U.K, India, Brazil, Philippines, Algeria, Poland, Netherlands, and South Africa.
Note that the page limit for submissions is 5 pages when submitted by individual stakeholders, and 10 pages when submitted by large coalitions of stakeholders.
What is the Universal Periodic Review?
The Human Rights Council (HRC) was established in 2006 to replace the ineffective and over-politicized Human Rights Committee. It consists of forty-seven Member States of the United Nations, and does stand the risk of becoming much like its predecessor.
However, the council is also responsible for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the latest reporting mechanism at the UN. Under this system it is states themselves who examine other states (as opposed to independent experts on the convention committees), with each country in the world reporting and being examined during a 4-year cycle. This means that a great degree of politics enters into the process – in the forms of both peer pressure and unholy alliances between countries with shared interests. But it also gives great room for civil society to play an influential role: in submitting a shadow report with additional information, and to put pressure on the either the examined or the examining states to focus on the critical issues.
For more information on how to understand and use the potentials of UPR as an instrument to put pressure on the State, please visit the homepage of the UPR.
For further information we would recommend that you search the Documentation database, which can be done either by country or by theme. Like the UN human rights committees, there are documents here from past sessions that can be used for “naming and shaming”, as these are all publically accessible. Again, it must also be stressed that these documents are the outcomes of a highly-politicised UN process.
More importantly and with and an eye to the future, do pay close attention to when your country is due to be examined (this information can be found in the calendar, as well as in each sessions agenda). This is especially interesting as the process needs an input of data and here you can play a central role in organising the civil society of your country. The documents employed by the examining countries are threefold: the report of the country under review; the documents of the UN; and the submissions of National Human Rights Institutes and other stakeholders. The latter is where civil society can play an active role in mobilisation. Please therefore pay attention to the deadlines for submission and the technical guidelines.