The UPR Project at BCU: Activities for Empowering Civil Society in the UPR
These activities funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)* are jointly-delivered by the Centre for Human Rights’ UPR Project at Birmingham City University (BCU) and the barrister’s chambers 4 King’s Bench Walk, Inner Temple. We aim to provide support and training for civil society in England and Wales to engage effectively with the UK’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The 4th Cycle is the Project’s focus but we will facilitate creating a UK network for continued civil society engagement with the UPR.
The UPR has energised civil society organisation (CSO) engagement with the UN and so this project will help connect and provide opportunities for CSOs in England and Wales through training, networking, and synergistic activities. A focus is to further CSO understanding of the creation and evolution of the UPR, how to use the review to strengthen equality and human rights, and identify cogent advocacy strategies in the UK and Geneva for helping ensure appropriate national legislative change and policy implementation.
We will build upon the ethos of the UPR by sharing knowledge and good practice to promote the meaningful safeguarding of human rights in our country. To do this we will provide training on the inter-connected roles of the various actors of the UPR, including: the UPR Secretariat, the national and devolved government, the coordination of the work of the Ministry of Justice, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and the Government Equalities Office, UK Parliamentarians, (including, Select Committees and All-Party Parliamentary Groups), UN permanent missions, UK NHRIs, civil society, the legal profession, and the media (including the use of social media).
Experts at the UPR Project have engaged with all aspects of the UPR both domestically and in Geneva, including submitting Stakeholder Reports, presenting at UPR Info’s pre-sessions, engaging in advocacy with UN permanent missions, presenting at regional political systems’ member state sessions, advising NHRIs (domestically and in foreign jurisdictions), and participating in national interim-reviews.
The project will be delivered through a hybrid on-line and in-person format. We will hold separate on-line sessions for: the pre-UPR, the review at the Human Rights Council, and the Outcome of the Review. We will also hold a Project Conference at STEAMhouse Birmingham, BCU’s new state-of-the-art enterprise facilities, and in London we will hold a session for engaging with parliamentarians at Westminster, and for lawyers to discuss how to use the UPR during a symposium at the Inner Temple.
Participants will receive training and share best practices on: utilising research opportunities, drafting impactful (SMART) recommendations, identify new collaborations and explorative pathways within the UPR, and engage evaluative techniques and strengthen synergies, for example between the UPR and the fulfilment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the UPR and the role of the UN Special Procedures mandates.
Alongside offering a platform to create a civil society network for engaging with the UPR, participants will also benefit from collaborative opportunities with the Universal Periodic Review Academic Network (UPRAN), the PhD community focusing upon the UPR as funded by the Arts and Humanities Council’s (AHRC) Midlands4Cities Consortium, and the BCU Centre for Human Rights’ network of organisations and partners.
Between November 2022 and February 2023, the following Project Activities will be offered:
Activity 1: Online Workshop – Pre-Review Briefing – Tuesday 8 November 2022, 11am-12.30pm. This session will provide:
- Overview of the UPR and what will occur during the UK’s review.
- Q&A with participants. This will help enhance CSO observations on the UPR to aid in identifying post-review strategies for engagement.
- Researching the UPR. This will be provided for CSOs who are new to the UPR and want to learn more about how to engage with this UN mechanism. We will provide advice on how to enhance CSO work through researching the UN web-recourses, the database of UPR Info, and the EHRC’s Human Rights Tracker.
Activity 2: The UPR of the UK – Thursday 10 November 2022, 8am-11.30am (on-line and in-person) at Birmingham City University. This session will provide:
- On-line participation. We will provide a pre-and-post UK UPR online discussion of the review, and the project will undertake a live recording of the member state recommendations.
- In-person participation. CSOs will have an opportunity to attend BCU and discuss initial reflections of the review.
Activity 3: Conference – Civil Society Participation in the UK’s UPR – Friday 17 February 2023, 9am-6pm (in-person) at STEAMhouse, Birmingham City University, Belmont Row, Birmingham, B4 7QR. The conference will:
- Review the UK’s UPR state recommendations and identify likely impact.
- Identify thematic areas for enhancing existing and identifying new CSO strategies for engagement with government.
- Draft a UK Civil Society Delegation Statement to provide a network manifesto for national action.
Activity 4: Symposium – The UPR, and UK governments and parliaments – Friday 24 February 2023 (in-person) (in London at the Palace of Westminster and the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple). The symposium will:
- Present information to the UK (Westminster) and Welsh (Senedd) parliaments on the importance of the UPR for protecting human rights.
- Identify effective engagement within the Ministry of Justice, the Government Equalities Office, and the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office.
- Identify practical application of the UPR within parliamentarians’ work in England and Wales through scrutinising the passage of Bills, and in the overall activities of Select Committees and All-Party Parliamentary Groups.
- Explore the extent to which the UPR could be used in litigation and in legal advice.
Useful UPR information
The UPR Project will be using factsheets, presentations, and other information throughout these events. These will be shared on a rolling basis below.
- UPR Background
- UK Third Cycle Factsheet
- UK Fourth Cycle Factsheet
- Civil Society Factsheet
- Parliamentarian Factsheet
- Further UPR Resources
- The UPR Synergy with the SDGs and UN Special Procedures
Briefing on the UK’s Responses to its Fourth Cycle Recommendations
On 27 March 2023, the UK responded to the recommendations received at its UPR in November 2023. In light of this, the UPR Project has produced a briefing for civil society and parliamentarians which provides an outline and analysis of these responses, and a discussion of their significance. Annexed to this briefing is a series of resources which CSOs may find useful in their respective work:
- A table of the recommendations received by the UK that have been themed in line with UPR Info’s guidance. It also contains the UK Government’s responses (supported, partially supported, noted) to each recommendation and its rationale (if given).
- A statistical breakdown of the UK’s responses by theme (e.g. how many recommendations concerning ‘Rights of the Child’ did the UK support).
- A series of charts which visualise the UK’s responses by theme.
Websites for Engaging with the UPR:
- The OHCHR UPR Portal
- UPR Info
- The UN Sustainable Development Group
- UN Geneva Blue Book
- National Report of the United Kingdom
- United Kingdom Government, Human Rights Internationally (FCDO)
- Government Equalities Office
- The All-Party Parliamentary Group on the UN (See the complete list of APPGs)
- EHRC information on the UPR
- EHRC Human Rights Tracker
- The UPR Project at BCU
For further information on the content of the Project Activities contact: Professor Jon Yorke at firstname.lastname@example.org
For further registration information on Activities 1 and 2 (pre-review briefing and UPR live-stream), contact Mr Michael Lane at Michael.email@example.com. For Activity 3 (CSO conference), contact Dr Alice Storey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow the Project on Twitter @UKUPR_CivSoc
* As an A-rated National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) and a national equality body, the Commission works to empower civil society to hold government to account for its human rights obligations by supporting engagement with treaty review processes