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Towards a National Agenda for Human Rights

Towards a National Agenda for Human Rights

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This policy note is a follow up to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism of the United Nations (UN) and the Human Rights Council that periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States.
It identifies potential development programming opportunities for UNDP in Europe and Central Asia to develop national capacity in the UPR area and contribute to the in-country UPR process.

This policy note is a follow up to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism of the United Nations (UN) and the Human Rights Council that periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States.
It identifies potential development programming opportunities for UNDP in Europe and Central Asia to develop national capacity in the UPR area and contribute to the in-country UPR process.

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Published by: UNDP in Europe and Central Asia on Sep 17, 2013
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Follow-up to the Universal PeriodicReview: Towards a National Agendafor Human Rights
Support to Universal PeriodicReview (UPR) Follow-up
“The international community will assist in implementing the recommendations and conclusions regarding capacity-building and technical assistance, in consultation with, and with the consent of, the country concerned.” 
Art. 36 of HRC Resolution 5/1 on UPR
Introduction
UNDP’s comparative advantage as a trustedgovernment partner and its practical develop-ment experience in human rights in the field,suggests that UNDP Country Offices in Europeand the CIS (ECIS) region should play a signifi-cant role in providing assistance for the Uni-versal Periodic Review (UPR). The report “Studyof the Implementation Challenges and LessonsLearned from the Universal Periodic Review(UPR) Recommendations in the ECIS Region”(see Appendix 2)highlights a range of practicesand entry points throughout the UPR cycle,along with related challenges. Good practicesand challenges both represent programmingopportunities for UNDP to develop national ca-pacity in the UPR area. This Policy Note identifies potential develop-ment programming opportunities at the na-tional level both for the Regional Centre forEurope and Central Asia,in providing assis-tance to Country Offices (COs),and for whatCOs themselves can contribute to the in-country UPR process.
Democratic Governance,Human Rights and UNDPin the ECIS region
In pursuit of its global objective to fully inte-grate human rights into UNDP policies, pro-grammes, and processes, UNDP focuses onthree key areas:Building the capacity of the systems and in-stitutions put in place by nations to pro-mote and protect human rights;Promoting the use of a human rights-basedapproach in development programming;Engaging with the international human rightsmachinery,led by the United Nations,andforging partnerships with expert institutions.In the ECIS region, this approach translates intoa specific focus on human rights and justiceunder the regional democratic governancepractice, and within this focus, an emphasis onthe UPR. The UPR process presents UNDP witha range of opportunities for engagement withStates, NHRIs and civil society.
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In many countries in the ECIS region, the UPRmerely represents a cyclical international obli-gation. However, the process itself has the po-tential to develop into a mechanism that canbring sustainable improvements to people’slives, particularly the disadvantaged and mar-ginalised. It is therefore a key vehicle for con-veying UNDP’s experience in human rightspolicy advice, technical support, capacity de-velopment and knowledge management.
UNDP Regional UPRSupport
UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Europe and CIS(RBEC) has developed a ‘rapid response’UPR-focused initiative [UPR Follow-up Facility – SeeAppendix 1 for details on the UPRF] for UPR ca-pacity development in order to support UNDPCOs in addressing UPR initiatives at the na-tional, sub-national and local levels. A numberof governments in the region have made mod-est progress in implementing their agreed UPRRecommendations and, as the developmentof the next national report approaches, theyare likely to seek assistance and advice on pre-senting a credible report, which may involveimplementing specific Recommendations as amatter of urgency. In this regard, the RegionalCentre can provide national and internationalexpertise from its rosters, on short notice, forthe following activities:Building national UPR capacity, in partnershipwith international partners if required, partic-ularly OHCHR. Predominantly, this wouldberegional or sub-regional training for govern-ment agencies and for civil society, for thedevelopment of their respective reports;Providing in-country training on imple-menting UPR Recommendations, particu-larly for civil society, including support forregional public hearings and expert dis-cussions;Assisting UN governance and human rightsthematic groups to analyse UPR Recom-mendations and exploring the participationof the UN agencies in their implementation;Providing support to governments forround table meetings to review draft actionplans on UPR follow-up;Providing advice on using existing (sectoralor thematic) capacity development proj-ects within UNDAF outcomes to follow-upon particular UPR Recommendations;Supporting governments to develop ma-trices of UPR Recommendations by the-matic area for ease of implementation;Facilitating cooperation between imple-mentation partners (e.g., government/par-liament) to develop joint implementationplans for particular Recommendations;Developing the capacity of NHRIs to en-gage strategically with governments andcivil society to advance the implementa-tion of UPR Recommendations – particu-larly given the enhanced role for NHRIs inthe second cycle;Facilitating study visits to Geneva, especiallyfor NGOs, to observe the UPR process beforepreparing their own stakeholder report(s);Care needs to be taken not to undermine theinterdependence of the UPR and other devel-opment programmes, nor to over-emphasiseUPR Recommendations at the expense of thecomments and recommendations of UN Treaty Bodies (TB) and UN Special Procedures(SP).In theory, these Recommendationsshould be considered throughout the UPRcycle. However, this may be unrealistic asmany ECIS States are behind in both reportingto Treaty Bodies and in implementing TreatyBody and Special Procedures outputs. TheseStates may prefer to focus on UPR Recom-mendation implementation only, given thetight and strictly enforced time limits.In general, UPR-related programmes andbroader capacity development should be for-

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