The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a human rights mechanism developed in March 2006, by the General Assembly Resolution 60/251. The UPR is run by the Human Rights Council (HRC), which consists of 48 member states to the United Nations. The HRC periodically reviews the performance of the 192 UN member states in implementing their human rights obligations and voluntary pledges. The review occurs every four years, with each subsequent session reviewing the performance and implementation of recommendations from previous sessions. Civil society participation in the UPR is guaranteed through HRC Resolution 5/1 adopted in June 2007.
The UPR is helpful because it holds UN member states accountable for human rights violations through a comprehensive and participatory reporting process. This allows information relating to the UPR to be more accessible to the general public, raising their awareness about human rights and the importance of the UPR in the process. According to the HRC resolution 5/1 (6/2007), states are encouraged to conduct broad national consultations with national civil society organizations (CSO) in preparation for the state report. If there is insufficient involvement by stakeholders, and there is no national consultation, awareness-raising or follow-up, the UPR risks being reduced to a diplomatic exercise, undermining its basic purpose. Constructive dialogue between civil society and government in which mandates and responsibilities are clear is rare in Lebanon. However, when there is cooperation, NGOs often take on the responsibilities of the government in order to fill existing gaps.
ALEF believes that the mechanism through which the state prepares its UPR report is an opportunity for CSOs to lobby for submission of overdue treaty reports. The aim of lobbying is not to draft the report, but rather to establish the mechanism through which the report is prepared. In order to ensure the state report is more than a summary of national legislations without any real analysis of the implementation and enforcement of past recommendations and human rights treaties, ALEF highly encouraged the Government of Lebanon in 2010 to consult CSOs before finalizing the report.
In order to achieve this goal, ALEF continues to advocate for Lebanon’s civil society to engage in a constructive dialogue with governmental stakeholders while also encouraging the state of Lebanon to conduct broad national consultations in preparation for the UPR state report. Doing so will ensure the state reports reflect the reality of human rights in Lebanon. Finally, ALEF supports a sustainable mechanism of inter-ministerial cooperation in reporting to UN Treaty bodies in a timely and efficient manner.
Although such national mechanisms have not yet been established, and the UPR state report drafting process remains unclear, ALEF continues to advocate for the government of Lebanon to ensure that key human rights issues are addressed in the dialogue between the state and UPR working group.