NGOs & the Universal Periodic Review

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The Role of International NGOs in
the Universal Periodic Review of
Pacific States:
Distorting the Dialogue?
11 September 2013
(Natalie Baird, University of Canterbury)
Presentation Outline
• What is the UPR?
• Overview of the first cycle of the UPR in the
Pacific
• The role of NGOs in the UPR
• The role of NGOs in Pacific UPR
• International NGOs: Benefits and challenges
• More collaboration between NGOs
• Conclusion
What is the Universal Periodic Review?
• All UN members every four and a half years; 42
states/year; 14 states in a two week session
• Inter-governmental process
• Not to be “overly burdensome” or “overly long”
• The yardstick for review:
–
–
–
–
–
UN Charter
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Human rights obligations (treaties) of the state
Voluntary pledges and commitments
International humanitarian law
• Aim: Improve human rights on the ground
Features of the UPR
• Three documents:
– national state report (20pp)
– OHCHR compilation of UN information (10pp)
– OHCHR “stakeholder summary” (10pp)
• Four phases:
– Preparatory phase
– Interactive dialogue (3 and a half hrs)
– Outcome phase: a set of bilateral
recommendations with State response (I hr)
– Implementation and follow-up
First UPR Cycle: Pacific Experience
• Focus: 12 PIF members: Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Fiji,
Kiribati, Marshall Is, FSM, Nauru, Palau, PNG, Samoa,
Solomons
• Opportunity to “tell the Pacific’s human rights stories”
• Good faith engagement: honest, open, reflective
• Nature of dialogue: beyond “naming and shaming”
• De facto human rights action plan
• Early signs of positive change: treaty ratifications, standing
invitations, SR visit to Tuvalu
• Engagement with civil society
– Consultation for national report
– RRRT, PIFS and OHCHR Pacific workshops
– Stakeholder balance: national cf international NGOs
What is the role of NGOs in the UPR?
•
•
•
•
Defining “non-governmental organisation”
International cf national NGOs
The role of NGOs in the United Nations
Opportunities for NGOs in the UPR:
– National consultation on state report
– Submit “stakeholder” report to Geneva: 5 pp (2815
words) or 10 pp (5630 words) >> Inclusion in
“stakeholder summary” of OHCHR
– Lobbying and advocacy at home and in Geneva
– Statement during the final plenary session
– Followup and implementation
Role of NGOs in UPR of Pacific States
State
Tonga
Tuvalu
Vanuatu
Fiji
Kiribati
Marshall
Islands
Micronesia
Nauru
Palau
PNG
Samoa
Solomon
Islands
Tonga II
Tuvalu II
Total number of
stakeholders
(NGOs)
National
NGOs
International
NGOs
Coalition of
national/int
NGOs
3
6
6
17
8
6
1
3
2
9
2
3
2
3
4
8
6
2
1
4
9
5
10
6
9
6
1
1
2
2
2
2
4
9
4
7
2
1
-
4
3
1
2
3
1
-
Who are these international NGOs?
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (UK): 13/14
Earth Justice (US) (incl coalition partners): 11/14
International Lesbian and Gay Coalition (Geneva and Belgium): 8/14
Amnesty International (UK): 6/14
Oceania Human Rights (US): 5/14
Marist and Franciscans (Geneva): 4/14
Institute on Religion and Public Policy (US): 3/14
Society for Threatened Peoples (Germany): 3/14
Human Rights Watch (US): 2/14
Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (Fiji): 1/14 [on Fiji]
Fundacion Mundial Dejame Vivir en Paz (Costa Rica): 1/14 [on Fiji]
Sexual Rights Initiative (Global North-South): 1/14 [on FSM]
University of Oklahoma College of Law International Human Rights Clinic (US):
1/14 [on PNG]
International Centre for Transitional Justice (US): 1/14 [on Solomons]
Child Rights International Network (UK): 1/14 [on Tonga II]
International NGOs:
Benefits and Challenges
• Benefits:
–
–
–
–
–
Filling a gap
Expertise
Dealing with controversial issues
Geneva base for lobbying
Solidarity
• Challenges:
–
–
–
–
–
Dilution of Pacific human rights stories
Formal limitations of rights cf actual reported violations
Approach to understanding of rights
Single issue focus
Int’l NGOs regarded as more credible than national NGOs?
Developing more collaboration between
international and national NGOs
•
•
•
•
•
•
Theme: influence > responsibility
Radical reimagining of int’l NGOs
Partnerships between nat’l and int’l NGOs
A human rights wiki? (Philip Alston)
Capacity building
Funding
Conclusion
• Benefits and challenges with international
NGOs
• Concern: The risk that the Pacific’s human
rights stories are distorted
• Comments and questions very welcome
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