3. Tips for civil society engagementThe UPR is a state-driven process: only states can make recommendations. However, civil society has an important role to play in informing the focus and content of these recommendations by sharing information about the human rights situation in the SuR and drawing attention to key concerns. Civil society actors can participate at different stages of the Cycle:
Advocacy by civil society actors makes a real difference to the outcomes of the UPR. The state representatives who draft recommendations to a SuR are not always human rights experts or in possession of in depth knowledge on that country, so civil society can help them to understand which human right issues to prioritise. Civil society also plays an important part in achieving impact on the ground: through their often close and ongoing relationship with affected communities, they can advocate for, monitor and support real change. Here are some tips and next steps for how civil society actors can make the most out of the UPR (see “Further Reading” for additional resources):
- Familiarise yourself with the timeframe. Download the timetable for the 3rd Cycle and note when the country or countries you have an interest in are up for review. Begin collecting information for your submission well in advance of the deadline.
- Remember, the Review period is 4-5 years. Include information that is reflective of the entire period of review. Do not restrict yourself to the most recent updates alone. The UPR also serves as an important historical record of the human rights situation in the SuR.
- Work with the national coalition. Try to get language on nationality and statelessness issues into the general national NGO submission, cross-referencing to the statelessness-specific submission, as relevant. This helps to not only mainstream the issue but secure broader support for follow-up.
- Work with international, regional and thematic partners. This enhances the quality of the submission, but also strengthens the advocacy position, increasing capacity to follow up with RS’s at Embassy, Capital & Geneva.
- Put forward specific language for recommendations. This increases the likelihood that the UPR outcomes will be useful and effective. Where appropriate, suggest SMART language for recommendations: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
- Make time for advocacy with potential Recommending States. This may be by applying to speak at the Pre-Session, direct advocacy with states at Embassy, Geneva and Capital level, or – ideally – a combination of these strategies. Research in advance which states might be interested in making a recommendation on the issues concerned and when sharing information, include the most important recommendations in the cover email.
- Target states that made recommendations under the first two Cycles. The success of the 3rd Cycle will be largely measured on the basis of its ability to deliver sustainable implementation of the recommendations made under the previous two Cycles. This means that it is important to study the previous recommendations issued to a state when making a submission and to reiterate or build on these (where relevant), as well as reach out to states that made recommendations previously, to follow up under the 3rd
- Follow up at the national level. Engage in advocacy and monitoring on implementation of recommendations on an ongoing basis to maximise the impact on the ground of what is “achieved” at the UPR in Geneva.
- Use the UPR as a complement to other human rights mechanisms. Reiterating treaty body recommendations at the UPR and feeding UPR recommendations (and progress on implementation) into treaty body submissions helps to reinforce the body of international recommendations on human rights and promote progress towards change.
- Use the UPR to strengthen the visibility and implementation of other international initiatives. This can include references to the Sustainable Development Goals, UNHCR’s #ibelong Campaign to End Statelessness and regional commitments to address statelessness – all of which are important tools for tackling statelessness that draw on and complement human rights.
- Build on momentum into the third Cycle. The third Cycle of the UPR started in April 2017, with the 27th Session of the UPR. Statelessness received significant attention at this session, with a total of 54 relevant recommendations being made to 12 of the 14 States under Review.
- Capitalise on developments under the 3rd Entering the 3rd Cycle, the reporting template that OHCHR provides to states was amended and now includes a sub-section on statelessness. Therefore, states are expected to look at statelessness and the right to a nationality in their National Reports. The new civil society report template includes a matrix of all recommendations under the previous Cycle, with space for NGOs to update on implementation. These developments can be capitalised on to push for better recommendations and monitoring of implementation under the 3rd Cycle.