BACKGROUND ON THE UPR
Did you know that Kenya is due for the third cycle Universal Periodic Review (“UPR”) on 23rd January, 2020? Kenya will be one of the 14 States to be reviewed at the 35th UPR session in January 2020.
What is UPR?
Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 193 UN member States once every 4.5 years. The UPR mechanism was created through UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251 on 15 March 2006.
Under the UPR mechanism, the Human Rights Council assesses the human rights situation in each of the UN member states. The Human Rights Council (HRC) is a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly comprising 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly. For more about the Human Rights Council, please visit https://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/hrc/pages/home.aspx
All member States of the United Nations are reviewed on an equal basis. Since the inaugural review by the Working Group in April 2008, there has been 100% participation by all the 193 UN member States in the UPR process.
The aim of the UPR is to promote universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all – It covers all human rights civil-political, economic social and cultural rights.
HOW THE UPR WORKS
UPR is a ‘peer-review’ process where States review each other. States receive recommendations from their peers.
The review takes the form of an interactive dialogue held between the State under review and the Member and Observer States of the Human Rights Council. States spell out positive achievements, express concerns and pose recommendations to the States under review. The State under review (SuR) can decide to accept or note the recommendations. Accepted recommendations should be implemented by the next review.
The review takes place in Geneva in the Working Group on the UPR composed of the 47 Member States of the HRC. The review of State under Review by the UPR Working Group takes about three and half hours.
During the three and half hours the state under review is given a total of 70 minutes to address the working group. The state under review is expected to make introductory remarks, summarise the national report and offer closing remarks. 140 minutes are then allocated to the interactive dialogue where Recommending States (member states) have the opportunity to ask questions, note comments and make recommendations to the SuR. (see link on Kenya’s review under the 2nd cycle of the UPR http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/human-rights-council/watch/kenya-review-21st-session-of-universal-periodic-review/4004562618001#playe)
The UPR Working Group meetings are held three times per year. During the Working Group Session, only UN Member States can take the floor. Accredited CSOs and NHRIs can participate as observers.
The examination of States is based on three reports: National report; Compilation of UN information and stakeholder’s summary.
- A National Report: Prepared by the State under review;
- A Compilation of United Nations information on the State under review prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and
- A Summary of information submitted by other stakeholders (including civil society actors, national human rights institutions and regional organizations), also prepared by OHCHR.
The documents referred to herein can be accessed at the following link: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/KEIndex.aspx
After each review, an “outcome report”, is prepared. The outcome report consists of the questions, comments and recommendations made by States to the country under review, as well as the responses by the reviewed State.
The Outcome report then has to be adopted at a later plenary session of the Human Rights Council. The State has to be clear on its position on all the recommendations before the adoption of the outcome in plenary.
During the adoption of the Outcome in the HRC Plenary session, one hour is allocated for the adoption of the Outcome document divided as follows: SuR (20 minutes); NHRI of the SuR(A status) ( 2 minutes); States(20 minutes), Stakeholders(18 minutes. The State under review can reply to questions and issues that were not sufficiently addressed during the Working Group and respond to recommendations that were raised by States during the review. Time is also allotted to member and observer States who may wish to express their opinion on the outcome of the review and for NHRIs, NGOs and other stakeholders to make general comments.
KENYA’S PARTICIPATION IN THE UPR
- Kenya was first reviewed under the UPR on 6th May, 2010 under the First Cycle (2008-2011). Under the 2nd cycle of the UPR, Kenya was reviewed in January 2015 during the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. The Second Cycle took place from May 2012-2016.
- During the second cycle review, Kenya accepted 192 recommendations. These recommendations were classed into an implementation matrix showing specific action, duty bearers and the timelines.
- The 3rd cycle of reviewing the human rights records of each country commenced in May 2017. Kenya’s turn will be on 23rd January 2019 during the 35th Session of the UPR Working Group.
REPORTING UNDER UPR/CRUCIAL DATES
- 18th July 2019: The deadline of submission for stakeholders UPR reports for the third cycle. Word limits: 2,815 words for a single organisation and 5,630 words for a joint submission.
- Friday, 16 August 2019: The deadline for National Human Rights Institutions and civil society organisations to apply to speak to the human rights situation during the Pre-session.
- 10-13 December 2019: Pre-session in Geneva: Pre-sessions are organised one month prior to the UPR Working Group session. The forum, organised by UPR-Info brings together State under Review, Permanent Missions, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) to discuss the human rights situation in the State under review.
- The purpose of the Pre-sessions is to offer CSOs and NHRIs an opportunity to brief permanent delegations on the human rights situation in the States under Review. It provides a forum for advocacy to encourage other States to ask specific questions or make certain recommendations.
- The Pre-session for each SuR lasts one hour. CSOs and NHRIs are given the floor between 5 to 7 minutes each, to present their assessment of the human rights situation in the country.
- The Pre-sessions will take place at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.More information on Pre-sessions, can be accessed at https://www.upr-info.org/en/upr-process/pre-sessions/frequently-asked-questions
- October 2019: Submission of National Report (12 weeks prior to the review). Resolution 5/1 of the HRC encourages the government of the SuR to prepare its National Report “through a broad consultation process at the national level with all relevant stakeholders”. A National report should not exceed 10,700 words.
- In-Country Pre-sessions: These are interactive meetings between national CSOs and embassies in the SuR. They ensure broad consultations among national UPR stakeholders and reinforce sustainable links between national CSOs and embassies, prior to the review in Geneva.
Anyone interested in following Kenya’s review by the working group can access webcast of the same at http://webtv.un.org/