International Conference on the UN Universal Periodic Review

8 Feb, 2012

On February 1-3, the Open Society Georgia Foundation together with the Open Society Foundations hosted an international conference on the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a new and unique mechanism of the United Nations which started in 2008 and involves a review of the human rights practices of all UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is a significant innovation of the Human Rights Council which is based on equal treatment for all countries. It provides an opportunity for all States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights.

“I am glad that OSF and OSGF hosted the conference on UPR. Presently the UPR is one of the most effective instruments in terms of the protection of rights at the international as well as at the local level. This mechanism gathers civil society and the state around the most acute issues in the country, while international discussion of these issues contributes to the improvement of existing practices and procedures. In addition, the involvement of local and international civil societies in the process of development of UPR, their cooperation with other local and international organizations and media, is crucial. We believe that sharing experience and more intense and thorough familiarization of public with this process are important for the improvement of the protection of human rights and introduction and retention of international standards and values”, Tamar Kaldani, representative from the Open Society Georgia Foundation, says.

The UPR conference conducted in Tbilisi gathered representatives of local civil society organizations and over 90 foreign experts from around the world to represent the global perspective on UPR work.

The event involved:
1. Discussion of the larger process and UPR Reform;
2. Feedback on the implementation of recommendations, from several NGOs, and a discussion of how to conduct follow-up monitoring. How do NGOs and NGO coalitions make concrete and address the recommendations? Have any NGOs created good systems to measure follow-up?
3. Workshops focusing on advocacy and coalition-building, submissions writing.
Conference was very successful as it helped over 80 participants to share experiences with UPR, review the upcoming 2nd cycle and plan an effective strategy to use this mechanism to improve human rights situation in the respected countries. Participants found the conference very useful for sharing experiences with UPR; realizing the reform and novelty in the new cycle; exploring effective follow-up to recommendations; and analyzing the best practices of NGO interventions.

The Conference was particularly rich as it was guided by a mixture of attendees who have a track-record of being able to generalize their own learning around the experience of the UPR, as well as information from groups that have worked with multiple country-based coalitions to the UPR.