The UPR Project at BCU: UK

In March 2022, the UPR Project at BCU submitted two joint submissions to the UK’s UPR. The first was submitted in conjunction with 4 King’s Bench Walk and focused upon migrants, detention, and racism. The second report saw the UPR Project partnering with Pace University, with an overarching theme of women’s rights, including access to abortion in Northern Ireland and domestic abuse.

UK flag large - UPR project


Consultancy background

Women’s Rights Report

This joint submission furthered our partnership with Pace University in New York, US as Dr. Storey and Dr. Smyth worked with Professor Lissa Griffin. This Stakeholder submission focuses upon the overarching theme of women’s rights, using an inclusive definition of “women.”  We make specific recommendations to the UK Government on two key issues: (1) Access to abortion in Northern Ireland, and (2) Protecting women from domestic abuse across the UK.

Access report

Women’s Right Report (Joint report with Pace University)

On 1 September 2022, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published its Stakeholder Summary Report for the UK, which cited the joint Stakeholder Report submitted by UPR Project at BCU and Pace University:

“HRW, US, JS4 and JS18 recommended the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.” (Para 22)

“AI, HRW, ECLJ, NIWEP and JS4 were concerned for the lack of implementation of Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020, despite the directives adopted in 2021. JS4 recommended that the United Kingdom ensure that abortion is equally available and accessible across NI on all permitted grounds through sufficient staffing and funding of all HSC Trusts.” (Para 59)

“JS4 noted that Covid-19 had been disastrous for those suffering from domestic abuse…JS4 noted that the Act was only in force in England and Wales.” (Para 67)

“JS4 and Redress referred to domestic abuse, including affecting trans women.” (Para 77)

Minorities and Deprivation of Liberty Report (Joint report with 4 KBW)

On 1 September 2022, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published its Stakeholder Summary Report for the UK, which cited the joint Stakeholder Report submitted by UPR Project at BCU and 4KBW:

“JS5 and JS18 recommended that the United Kingdom ratify ICRMW… Reprieve, JS5, JS18 and JS19 recommended the ratification of OP-CRC-IC. Redress, Reprieve and JS5 recommended that the United Kingdom make a declaration under Article 22 of CAT. JS5 recommended to withdraw the reservation to Article 4 of ICERD.”  (Para 21)

“JS5 and AI were concerned about the denial of institutional racism, after the 2021 report of the newly established Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.” (Para 32)

“REF, ODVV, JS5 noted that racially motivated hate crimes had increased.” (Para 33)

“JS5 was concerned about overcrowding, suicides, and self-harm in prisons. JS5 noted that the Prison Strategy White Paper (2021) had addressed the need for new prisons, but not concrete plans of renovation.” (Para 37)

“The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe (CoE-Commissioner), JS5, JS18 and JS19 were concerned about the age of criminal responsibility of 10 years old (12 years old in Scotland), below the absolute minimum requested internationally of 14 years old.” (Para 69)

“Several submissions stated that the Nationality and Borders Bill conflicted with the United Kingdom’s international obligations, including the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.” (Para 80)

“BID, RCUK, JS3, JS5; and JS18 reported that there was no statutory time limit on immigration detention.” (Para 81)

Professor Jon Yorke was selected to present at the UPR pre-session at the UN in Geneva which occurred on 29 August 2022 and he raised the concerns over (1) the UK Government’s introduction of Bill 117 entitled, A Bill to Reform the Law Relating to Human Rights (Bill of Rights Bill), (2) the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, with a particular emphasis on Government’s entering into a Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda (MEDP), (Migrants Factsheet) (3) detention and imprisonment which focused upon children within our prison estate (Detention Factsheet), and (4) the prevalence of racism in the UK, through a critique of the work of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, and the Government’s reservation on the International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Racism Factsheet). 

Pre-session statement and slides.

Following the presentation in Geneva, the European Union Delegation to the United Nations invited Professor Yorke to present at the Inform Exchange of Views with the EU member states which took place on 17 October 2022.

EU Submission presentation sheet.

(Outcome of the review yet to be published)

Minorities and Deprivation of Liberty Report

This report was written through a new partnership with leading barrister’s chambers, 4 King’s Bench Walk, Inner Temple. Professor Jon Yorke worked alongside Jyoti Wood (a Barrister at 4KBW) and Michael Lane on this submission. Both Jyoti and Michael are PhD students in the Centre for Human Rights. We make recommendations to the UK Government on three key issues relating to minorities and the deprivation of liberty: (1) The rights of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees, (2) Detention and imprisonment, and (3) Racism.

Access report

About the UPR Project at BCU

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) has been engaging with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) since 2016. Under the auspice of the Human Rights Council, the UPR is an intergovernmental process providing a review of the human rights record of all Member States.

Through the UPR Project at BCU, the CHR we engage with the UPR through taking part in the UPR Pre-sessions, providing capacity building for UPR stakeholders and National Human Rights Institutions, and the filing of stakeholder reports in selected sessions. The UPR Project is designed to help meet the challenges facing the safeguarding of human rights around the world, and to help ensure that UPR recommendations are translated into domestic legal change in member state parliaments.

We fully support the UPR ethos of encouraging the sharing of best practice globally to protect everyone's human rights.The UPR Project at BCU engages with the UPR regularly as a stakeholder, having submitted numerous reports and been cited by the OHCHR.