The 13th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was held at the Human Rights Council from May 21-June 4 2012. This was the first UPR session of the second cycle whereby countries will be reviewed by their peers on their entire human rights record for the second time.
14 countries were reviewed during UPR 13 including Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, Ecuador, Finland, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Tunisia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The outcome reports of these reviews will be adopted at the next Human Rights Council session in September 2012.
The Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) collaborated with national NGOs in several of the countries under review to prepare stakeholder submissions and advocate for strong recommendations on sexual and reproductive rights including: Brazilian Association of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transsexuals (Brazil); Women in Communication Workshop (Ecuador); Vaestoliitto (Finland); CREA, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad, Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues, Centre for Penology, Criminal Justice and Police Studies, Jindal Global Law School (India); Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (Indonesia); Rutgers WPF (Netherlands); Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (Philippines); Federation for Women and Family Planning (Poland); and FPA Northern Ireland (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).
During each country’s review, States made several recommendations regarding sexual and reproductive rights which are testament to the excellent submissions and advocacy by sexual and reproductive rights advocates from a variety of organizations and coalitions.
Sexual and reproductive rights recommendations included those related to: female genital mutilation, discrimination against women in law and practice, discrimination and violence against persons on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, early and forced marriage, criminalization of consensual same sex conduct, gender-based violence, access to abortion, children’s rights to participate in the decisions that affect them, maternal mortality, sexuality education, nondiscrimination against marginalized groups particularly with regards to health care and education, access to sexual and reproductive health information, education and services, access to HIV services and gender equality. A more detailed summary of SRR recommendations for each State under Review can be found here.
Room for Improvement
Several of the recommendations, particularly in relation to women’s rights, were overly broad and lack the specificity necessary to hold State’s accountable for the realization of human rights. Overly broad recommendations are a reoccurring theme throughout the UPR since its inception. States must improve the quality of their recommendations by focusing on specific laws and policies if the UPR is to be a truly transformative mechanism. Civil society must also work to ensure recommendations are more specific and actionable in their stakeholder submissions.
Issues that were not addressed or insufficiently addressed by States include: criminalization of sex work; criminalization of HIV transmission; discrimination and violence against people living with HIV; sexual and reproductive rights of people with disabilities, young people, trans* people, indigenous people, migrants, people living on low incomes and marginalized people; laws and policies that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services, education and information; and accountability mechanisms for sexual and reproductive rights violations beyond instances of violence.
The Holy See made regressive recommendations to Brazil, Ecuador and Poland regarding the protection of the “natural family and marriage, formed by a husband and wife”. The Holy See also recommended to Poland to “protect the right to life”.
Adoption of UPR Reports September 2012
The outcome report for each State under Review during UPR 13 will be adopted at the 21st session of the Human Rights Council in September 2012. The outcome report indicates which recommendations the State under review will agree to implement. This is the only opportunity for civil society to make an oral statement during the official UPR process. The Sexual Rights Initiative, in collaboration with partners and allies, will work to ensure that sexual and reproductive rights are visible during this segment of the UPR process.
If you would like more information on the UPR process and how to get involved, please review the SRI UPR Toolkit for Sexual Rights advocates published jointly with IPPF. You can access it here in English,French,Spanish and Arabic