Dr. Khine Khine Win
Based on my working experiences regarding human rights awareness raising activities in many places, what I found out is that most of our people including government officials have limited knowledge on Universal Periodic Review, UPR. As Myanmar is one of the member States of United Nations, we should have knowledge about UPR. Indeed if you are interested in human rights, you should study UPR.
What is UPR? UPR is a mechanism of the Human Rights Council or what we can say is that this is a UN examination of the human rights situation in each country. If you look back, the existence of the UPR is too young, just 10 years old in age. It was established by UN General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006. This is the first international human rights mechanism to address all countries and all human rights.
UPR is a State-driven process under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations. The objectives of the UPR are: improvement of the human rights situation on the ground, fulfillment of the State’s human rights obligations and commitments and assessment of positive developments and challenges faced by the State, enhancement of the State’s capacity and of technical assistance, in consultation with, and with the consent of, the State concerned, sharing of best practice among States and other stakeholders, support for cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights and to encouragement of full cooperation and engagement with the HRC, other human rights bodies and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Under this mechanism, the human rights situation of all UN member States is reviewed every 4.5 years. 42 States are reviewed each year during three Working Group Sessions dedicated to 14 States. These three sessions are usually held in January/February, May/June and October/November. The Working Group on the UPR, which is composed of the Human Rights Council’s 47 Member States and chaired by the Human Rights Council President, conducts country reviews. Every UN member States have to perform their human rights situation by submitting a report to the Human Rights Council, which is of utmost importance to the promotion and protection of human rights of all groups of their people. A review of a State is based on: (a) a national report prepared by the State under review; (b) a compilation of United Nations information on the State under review prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and (c) a summary of information submitted by other stakeholders (including civil society actors, national human rights institutions and regional organizations), also prepared by OHCHR.
The basis of country reviews is: (a) the Charter of the UN (b) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (c) Human Rights instruments to which a State is Party and (d) voluntary pledges and commitments made by the State, including those undertaken when presenting their candidature for election to the HRC. Country reviews also take into account applicable international humanitarian law.
Myanmar’s first UPR report has submitted in January 2011 and second in November 2015. For the first cycle, Myanmar government received 190 recommendations from 57 countries. Among them Myanmar government accepted 74 recommendations. For the second cycle, Myanmar received 281 recommendations from 93 countries. Among them Myanmar accepted 166 recommendations.
Recommendations are suggestions made to the State under Review to improve the human rights situation in the country or you can say that they are the homework for next cycle review. It is for sure that the State has the prime responsibility to implement the UPR recommendations. During the next cycle UPR, the State under review is expected to provide information on their progress or failure to implement the recommendations.
The Key to UPR is for the recommendations to be implemented. In this regard, with aim to give an overview of the UPR process, to present report of the UPR Working Group on Myanmar, to explore roles and responsibilities in implementing the accepted recommendations and to discuss next step, Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and Lutheran World Federation Myanmar will jointly organize a two day workshop on 9 and 10 August in Nay Pyi Taw. Parliamentarians from Pyithu Hluttaw and Amyotha Hluttaw, government officials from ministries concerned and member and staff of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission will join the workshop. I hope that this workshop will bear a fruitful outcome for the implementation of the UPR recommendations.
In recognition of the need for us to continually strive for better protection and for greater promotion of human rights, I do hope accepted recommendations implementation will succeed by working together with many stakeholders. This article is just an introduction about UPR and I urge you all to study more on UPR if you are really interested in human rights situation of your country.