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Escalate It | Chapter Eleven

Submitting a Report to the UPR


THE BASICS

Organisations can identify human rights violations by submitting a report to the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Submissions can focus on one or multiple human rights that are protected under UN documents including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Submissions can also identify whether or not a country is fulfilling its national human rights commitments and adhering to international humanitarian law.

Length: A submission from a single organisation cannot exceed five pages; a coalition of NGOs can submit reports of up to 10 pages. Organisations may attach additional reports and information (beyond the five or 10 pages) to support facts in their submission.

Format: Follow the submission requirements, which are listed in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Technical Guide.

Deadlines: The schedule of countries coming up for review is available here. Submissions are due six to eight months before the review session. Send submissions to the UPR review to uprsubmissions (@) ohchr.org. The OHCHR secretariat will confirm receipt via email.


WHAT TO INCLUDE AND EXCLUDE FROM A SUBMISSION

What to include
What to leave out

Information on the session (session number, date, country under review)

The OHCHR strongly recommends that incidents, statistics and other facts in the document do not pre-date the four-year period leading up to the review.

The organisation’s name and contact info (include at/near the top). Joint submissions require the names of all contributing stakeholders.

Secondhand information, unless it clearly supports original information.

Condense main points and recommendations in an executive summary. Briefly describe the organisation’s activities and include key words that specify your angle, such as “press freedom.”

Individual cases, unless emblematic.

Near the top, outline the method(s) used in gathering information. Show how the organisation has ensured the information provided is accurate and objective.

Conclusions and recommendations made by the human rights treaty bodies or special procedures of the Human Rights Council.

Paint a picture of the human-rights situation on the ground using statistics, specific incidents and facts. Refer to international and national human rights documents and pledges to show whether countries are meeting or falling short of specific obligations.

Excessive footnotes, as highlighted in the OHCHR’s technical guidelines. Further details.

Suggest ways the international community can help the country meet human rights obligations through technical support and capacity building.

Annexes, pictures, maps, annual reports, reports from other organisations or any information that does not directly support the submission.

Recommend actions the state should undertake to improve the situation.


TIPS: 6 TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE SUBMISSIONS

1. Prepare joint submissions. Joint submissions allow organisations more time and resources to put towards lobbying member states to voice their recommendations in the official review.

2. Make submissions in English, French or Spanish. While submissions will be accepted in all six official UN languages, a document is likely to be read by more member states if it is written in one of these three.

3. Have the submission carefully proofread for spelling and grammar.

4. Cite violations according to the UN documents and mechanisms to which the country is a signatory. Organisations can also hold states accountable to voluntary pledges made nationally and to international humanitarian law. Links to obligatory and voluntary international human rights mechanisms can be found here and a general briefing on the main UN human rights documents is also available.

5. Highlight progress and achievements. By recognising gains made in freedom of expression and information, organisations may promote such behaviour. Positive feedback could also improve the dialogue between the NGO and government.

6. Convey priority concerns and issues by highlighting them in the introduction and recommendations. Be sure the annexes focus on corroborating the priority issues.


SAMPLE SUBMISSIONS

ARTICLE 19,
Submission on Freedom of Expression in Indonesia (2007)

ARTICLE 19 and the Justice Initiative,
Submission on Egypt (2010)

Centro de Derechos Humanos, Universidad Diego Portales,
Report on Chile (2008)

Human Rights Watch,
Submission on Cambodia (2009)

International PEN,
Submission on Kenya (2009)


MORE ON THE WEB

All NGO submissions are organised alphabetically by review country in the UPR-info database

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