Global Campus research programme on the Universal Periodic Review

Following a research carried out in 2013 on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, this year’s Global Campus research programme will focus on another internationally relevant topic studied through the lenses of different regional perspectives.

A research team composed of academics from the six Regional Masters of the Global Campus will conduct a study on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), a mechanism to universally promote human rights. The UPR is a process whereby the domestic human rights record of all UN Member States is reviewed. The UPR foundation is the UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, which also set up the Human Rights Council. The review mechanism takes the form of an interactive dialogue among States: Within one cycle of four and half years 48 countries are reviewed each year in three sessions of the yearly UPR Working Group.

Photo: HRC in Geneve. ©Jean-Marc Ferré

According to UPR Info, a non-profit and non-governmental organisation based in Geneva - Switzerland, which aims to provide capacity-building tools to the different actors involved in the UPR, this mechanism has proven to be an effective awareness-raising and advocacy mechanism. The UPR presents opportunities to a country to commit to implementing recommendations by other states to improve its own human rights record. Furthermore, the UPR offers an opportunity for civil society to discuss human rights issues with its State. Civil society organisations and other stakeholders can engage in the process in multiple ways. They can conduct advocacy activities before the review in order to have important issues of concern included in the recommendations or lobby directly the State to influence its position and actions. For instance, as reported in the UPR info report of 2012 [1], recommendations of the UPR in 2012 addressed to Costa Rica for implementing a national plan of action created a discussion momentum between civil society and the State. In the United Arab Emirates, the government set up a new human rights department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanks to the UPR.

The GC Research programme will bring into focus specific issues surrounding the UPR implementation and national processes in selected countries in Europe, South-East Europe, Caucasus, Asia-Pacific region, Africa, Latin-America and the Caribbean region. By drawing a comparison between several regions, the research will highlight best practices and deficiencies in national UPR procedures and consider  the level of implementation of recommendations regarding  inter alia treaty ratification and concrete legislative/policy action and whether these recommendations corresponds to the priorities of national human rights organisations. The research project is coordinated by Magnus Killander at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. The report should be ready by 30 June 2014.

The topic of the Global Research Programme will be connected this year to the Global Classroom, which also stands out as one of the most remarkable activities of the Global Campus of Regional Master’s Programmes and Diplomas. The Global Classroom is one week event gathering students and academics from the six Regional Masters and experts to discuss on topics related to human rights and democracy. This year’s Global Classroom from 12 to 16 May 2014 was also devoted to the UPR. The potential of connecting both the activity of research and discussion is to give the opportunity to students, academics and experts to interact in an open a lively forum and provide input into the research programme.  

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