UPR Trust Funds: Enhancing International Solidarity
Like a diamond in the rough that still needs to be polished but has a great value. The UPR is widely considered by the international community as a valuable mechanism even if there are still many challenges to overcome.
On the 1st March 2023, UPR Info participated in the high-level discussion of the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council on how the United Nations could better respond to States’ growing demands for assistance in translating UPR recommendations into laws and practices that advanced human rights, strengthened national protection systems, and built more resilient societies.
In the past cycles, the implementation of UPR recommendations supported by two Voluntary Funds: The Voluntary Fund for Participation in the Universal Periodic Review and the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the Implementation of the UPR. The latter provided over 5.5 million United States dollars in seed funding to projects in 76 countries in all regions.
“The international community, notably development cooperation actors and especially the recommending States, should take further steps and consolidate action based on the entry points that accepted UPR recommendations offered, contributing to creating more resilient societies while enhancing solidarity and national ownership”
Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Examples of good practices
Integrating the UPR recommendations raised during the UPR Working Group within the foreign policies and development strategies towards the States under Review can contribute to overcoming the financial challenges for their effective implementation. In the third cycle, Switzerland made two recommendations one on combatting domestic violence and another one on the establishment of a national preventive mechanism against torture. Following those recommendations, Switzerland provided funding resources to local civil society organizations (CSOs) working on those themes. Through this support the CSOs were able to conduct capacity-building activities to provide better legal orientation in line with the recent amendment of the national law on domestic violence and provide support to victims of torture.
Mona M’Bikay, UPR Info’s Executive Director, recalled additional good practices put in place by France and Belgium in providing financial resources to CSOs so that they can contribute implementing UPR recommendations. In Côte d'Ivoire, for example, the financial support is currently helping a CSO to develop a national campaign to raise awareness of the rights of people with disabilities through radio and TV programs but also through advocacy work with local authorities. In 2021 also Germany provided financial support to implement UPR recommendations addressing the rights of indigenous people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“To enhance the implementation of the UPR recommendations on the ground, I would like to encourage States to further integrate the three dimensions of sustainability – social, economic, and environmental of the 2030 Agenda to ensure that by the end of the 4th UPR cycle, we can observe transformational changes in the realization of people’s rights and mainstream human rights into their development programmes”, said Mona M’Bikay. Furthermore, she added “members of the OECD peer review can encourage national development entities to mainstream the UPR in the programme of work with the countries benefiting from development aid.”
Initiative: the Group of Friends of the UPR
To polish the UPR diamond, the HL Discussion concluded by announcing a new initiative for a Group of Friends of the UPR. As The group is diverse in all areas, including engagement with civil society and how recommendations were incorporated.
“The Group of Friends could assist with the approach to incorporate the UPR within the State and could hold mobilise funds. Countries had funds which were dedicated to human rights, which could be utilised as creative seed money”
Federico Villegas, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the United Nations Office in Geneva.
More information on the Group of Friends of the UPR will come in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, we encourage States to join!