Universal Periodic Review: a Window into Human Rights Implementation
The last two weeks have been all about the Universal Periodic Review, held here in Geneva.
For this session, WILPF monitored the reviews of those States in which we have sections. We also hosted a side-event in response to the Pakistani review, for which we wrote a separate blog.
The Argentinian review focused on a few major issues. These included:
- The conditions of prisons, including accusations of torture
- Maternal mortality rates
- Discrimination against indigenous communities
- And especially Human Trafficking.
Argentina is a major source, transit and destination location for Human Trafficking.
The UPR brought attention to the recent Argentinian study that observed that forms of trafficking for sexual exploitation are mutating, so as to avoid prosecution. They urged Argentina’s government to react accordingly in its legislature, law enforcement and judiciary.
They further pushed for better protection and care for victims of trafficking. While they acknowledged that Argentina has recently introduced a centre for victims of trafficking and this is a step in the right direction, these centres need to be made more widely available to every victim of trafficking, including those of labour exploitation.
The final report of the UPR including all recommendations made to Argentina can be found here.
The review of Switzerland was very different in tone to that of Argentina, as many States recognised the exemplary manner in which Switzerland protects and promotes human rights in general.
Besides the issue of xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia brought up by several Muslim States, equal pay for women and men, the rights of migrants and domestic violence were major issues.
While it was discouraging to see the increased militarisation in Switzerland not being linked at all with the increase of domestic violence, women’s migrant rights were put together with domestic violence. In particular, the difficulties faced by migrant women who are victims of domestic violence were discussed. As these women often do not report the abuse due to fear of deportation and are equally unable to file for divorce without being deported, the UPR rightly put pressure on the Swiss government to address their appalling situation.
The final report of the UPR including all recommendations made to Switzerland can be found here.
At the start of this UPR, WILPF issued a statement on the use of comfort women by Japan during the Second World War. It advocated for Japan to take responsibility and for a victim-lead recognition and reparations.
Both the Dutch and South Korean delegates made very strong statements and recommendations on the issue. They called for comfort women to be reintroduced to Japanese history books, provide redress to all victims, and recognise their legal responsibility towards these victims.
The final report of the UPR including all recommendations made to Japan can be found here.
Finally, the UPR session of Peru exposed a wide range of issues Peru was called on to deal with.
These issues included prison conditions for women, sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children, the special vulnerabilities of indigenous and rural women, female representation at all levels of government, the high number of cases of rape, spousal physical and mental abuse, and gender based violence in general.
Most of these issues were found to be closely linked to poverty, highlighting the long road Peru still has in front of it in truly fulfilling human rights.
The final report of the UPR including all recommendations made to Peru can be found here.
UPR: Real Effects?
It is too early to say whether the relatively new UPR process is a successful one. What we can say is that from the over 22,000 recommendations made so far in the entire process, 73% have been accepted by the State under review, according to UPR Info.
This signifies that the State under review agrees to undertake measures to implement certain recommendations made. It is up to civil society to make sure these promises are actually kept, monitored and pushed for during the four years a State has in between reviews.
WILPF therefore, has in the past, and will continue to in the future, hold States accountable for their human rights records.