Universal Periodic Review – Advancing Rights Through Monitoring and Implementation

01 April 2019

The Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (CFNHRI) organised two side events during GANHRI’s 2019 General Assembly that focussed on NHRI engagement with the UN human rights mechanisms. The aim of these sessions was to provide attendees with information about innovations in the field of monitoring and implementation and hear about strategic approaches to the UPR process from fellow NHRIs.

The first session explored best practice in NHRI engagement with the Universal Periodic Review, with a particular focus on advancing minority rights. Zara Porter highlighted a set of tools and guidelines created by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) that NHRIs can use to better navigate the UPR process, and Nicoletta Zappile from UPR Info provided examples of how UPR can be used to advance minority rights. Nicoletta’s presentation included a case study of how the New Zealand government has been working to translate recommendations into concrete measures to overcome the barriers faced by Māori and Pacific populations, and the role the New Zealand Human Rights Commission (NZHRC) has played in tracking its implementation.

Ruth Ssekindi from the Ugandan National Human Rights Commission and Tracey Mikaele from NHRI Samoa provided case studies about advancing minority rights. Tracey spoke specifically about the work of the Ombudsman in engaging collaboratively with government to implement programmes on improving outcomes around sexual orientation and gender identity rights.

Carrie Shelver from Sexual Rights Initiative introduced attendees to their database of UPR recommendations relating Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and presented suggestions for how NHRIs can better engage with this issue, which included:

  • Ensuring SRHR is holistically addressed within the wider UN human rights system
  • Documenting the participation of Civil Society Organisations, particularly those working in more “controversial areas” of SRHR, in the UPR process and within the preparation of state reports.
  • Countering reprisals against Human Rights Defenders and activists.

By refocusing attention toward State implementation, the UPR process can move beyond report writing to encourage governments to develop clear plans for taking forward the recommendations. The second session delivered by CFNHRI explored innovation in monitoring and implementation of recommendations. Gianni Magazzeni from OHCHR emphasised the value of NHRIs in monitoring implementations and guided members through the resources available from the OHCHR UPR branch.

Ash Bowe from the Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project (PCRP) demonstrated open source software from Impact OSS that can support NHRIs to track implementation of recommendations.

Carla Garnelas from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Kagwiria Mbogori from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) provided us with insight into the challenges and opportunities NHRIs face in developing their own tools to monitor implementation of recommendations. Both speakers encouraged greater knowledge exchange between NHRIs to support effective approaches to recommendation monitoring.

We would like to thank all the panelists and attendees for sharing their experience and expertise. If you would like any further information on the seminars please email us at:


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