UPR Training Workshop with the Regional OHCHR for the MENA

UPR Training Workshop with the Regional Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the MENA

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) participated in a training workshop on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 29 June 2021, organized by the Regional Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the Middle East and North Africa. The workshop hosted members from civil society organizations, aiming at increasing knowledge of the UPR process and enhancing the ability of participants to report relevant human rights issues credibly. 

The OHCHR Regional Representative for the MENA opened the workshop by addressing the mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that is based mainly on spreading a culture of human rights and helping UN member states to fulfill their international human rights obligations. She discussed the role of the UPR in enhancing states’ commitment to international human rights law and the crucial role played by civil society and activists in this mechanism.

The first session of the workshop addressed the UPR process in detail, focusing on its complementary role to other mechanisms of human rights in the United Nations. The UPR is carried out under the auspices of the Human Rights Council and involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. It is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed. The human rights records of each UN member state are reviewed every four and a half years, where forty-two states are reviewed each year. The reviews take place during the sessions of the UPR Working Group which meets three times a year. 

The state under review, the civil society and other stakeholders, and the UN agencies prepare and send their reports for the UPR ahead of the deadline, focusing on the recommendations made in the previous UPR report and any voluntary commitments made by the state. Each State review is assisted by groups of three States, known as “troikas”, who serve as rapporteurs. Following the review by the Working Group, a report is prepared by the troika with the involvement of the state under review and assistance from the OHCHR. This report, referred to as the “outcome report”, provides a summary of the actual discussion.

The second session focused on the technical guidelines for the submission of stakeholders and best practices in this regard. Shadow reports must be designed for the UPR and not previously have been published, covering the four and a half years since the state’s last UPR report. They should be based on primary sources, analyzing the human rights situation in the state concerned and using indicators to measure the implementation of the recommendations made in its last UPR report. These indicators should be SMART: specific, measurable, applicable, result-based, and timely. Finally, the session discussed the importance of consultation at the national level between the government and the various stakeholders to prepare a national human rights plan that responds to the recommendations of the UPR, as well as the most effective mechanisms followed in this regard.