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Calling for the Extension of Deadline for the UPR Reports

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FORUM-ASIA joins national, regional, and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in urging the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to extend the deadline for the submission of NGO reports for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
On 12 October 2007, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) joined national, regional, and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from all over the world in urging the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to extend the deadline for NGO submissions for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) from 30 October 2007 to 31 December 2007. The OHCHR issued an Information Note to NGOs Regarding the UPR on 8 October 2007, setting out a tentative deadline of 30 October 2007 for submissions by NGOs for the first UPR session. This first session is scheduled to take place from 7 to 18 April 2008.

The NGO letter, which was drafted by Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and Amnesty International, was addressed to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Louise Arbour. The NGOs argue that for NGOs’ participation in the UPR process to be meaningful, the report must be “inclusive, coordinated, focused, and timely.” The deadline initially set by the OHCHR will make this very difficult. The letter also points out the fact that the UPR process will be the first opportunity for many national NGOs to engage with the UN Human Rights Council. Thus, they will need to learn more about the process and its functions if they are to participate effectively. NGOs will also need more time if the information they provide is to reflect discussions in the national consultations that States are encouraged to conduct as part of the preparation of their own reports for the UPR. Finally, the letter notes that information submitted before 30 October 2007 will most likely be out-of-date by the time the actual reviews take place.

The UPR mechanism is a key innovation of the UN Human Rights Council, which itself was established just last year. It provides for the human rights records of all UN Member States to be srutinised using a common system. NGOs are given space to actively engage in the review. Paragraph 3(m) of Resolution 5/1 states that the UPR shall “ensure the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations and national human rights institutions.” The Asian countries to be reviewed in the first UPR session next year are India, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Read the full text of the letter to High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Louise Arbour (in .pdf)