The Shame of Ireland
Ireland has committed itself to promoting and protecting human rights. The Irish Government must report on a regular basis to the United Nations (UN) on the extent to which it is meeting these obligations. In October 2011, Ireland will be examined by the UN under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Under this new and innovative review process:
* Ireland will report on its record on all human rights - civil, political, economic, social and cultural.
* The UN Human Rights Council external link examines that record and recommends steps to strengthen human rights on the ground in Ireland.
Who can have their say?
The UPR process allows the possibility for everyone to give their input on Ireland's human rights record, through contributing to reports which will be prepared by the IHRC and civil society organisations or non-governmental organisations. Three reports will be used by the United Nations in the Review:
* State Report prepared by the Government
* Report prepared by the UN itself
* Report compiling the views of 'stakeholders', external link including the National Human Rights Institution (the IHRC), and Civil Society Organisations.
How the IHRC can help you have your say?
The IHRC, as Ireland's National Human Rights Institution, will submit its own report for this process in March 2011. To inform our report, the IHRC is seeking contributions from the Irish Public and its other stakeholders. The Consultation Process will take place from 1 October to 17 December 2010. The IHRC can support you to take part in the process:
Civil Society Organisations: we can provide you with information about the process and how your organisation can prepare a report to send to the UN. Even if you are not preparing a report, we would like to hear about the human rights issues that concern you. This input will inform our own report.
Members of the Public: we are inviting you to have your say. Please check back for more details closer to the 1st of October. Statutory Bodies: we are happy to provide any advice or assistance possible to colleagues in other independent statutory bodies who may wish to provide information for this process.
What is the Universal Periodic Review?
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed. (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)
Why is the UPR important?
The UPR Process is unique in that it is a peer-review of the human rights record of a State, by other States. The Government has to provide a report to the Human Rights Council, which, along with the Reports of independent stakeholders, will be used to examine Ireland on its human rights record. A series of recommendations will then be made to Ireland, which the Government will have to indicate its agreement with or rejection of before its peers.
Who conducts the review?
The Review is conducted by the UPR Working Group which consists of the 47 Member countries of the Human Rights Council. However all UN Member States can take part in the discussion/dialogue with the reviewed state
How is it conducted?
UPR is conducted on the basis of three inputs; a national report prepared by the state under review (limited to 20 pages), material prepared on the basis of official UN inputs (limited to 10 pages) and additional material from all relevant stakeholders (limited 10 pages). States are encouraged to consult widely in their preparations for UPR including with their National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs).
What difference will it make?
The Review aims to improve the situation of human rights in every country and improve people's lives. By assessing the human rights situation in each country, the UPR aims to support and expand the promotion and protection of human rights. It will offer assistance to countries to overcome specific human rights challenges.
What is the significance of the IHRC's role as a National Human Rights Institution?
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) are independent statutory bodies established on the basis of the UN 'Paris Principles' to monitor countries' compliance with their international human rights commitments. One of the key roles of NHRIs is to engage with the UN when their country's human rights record is under scrutiny. Their role is to provide independent, considered and balanced reports on the human rights challenges and developments in their country. The engagement of NHRIs with the UPR is considered as key to its success as a rigorous process. There is considerable weight given to the report of the NHRI which will be compiled as part of a 'stakeholders' report and provided to all Member States during their consideration of the State's record. The NHRI also has the opportunity to hold side events and meetings during the hearing of the State Report and to meet with the actors involved.
What is the role of Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organisations?
The UPR ensures the participation of all relevant stakeholders. NGOs can submit information that can be included in a report that will be compiled by the Human Rights Council called the Other Stakeholders Report.
Submissions from individual civil society organisations should not be longer than five pages, to which a more detailed and factual report maybe attached (the page limit for submissions is 10 pages when submitted by large coalitions of stakeholders ).
NGOs which have consultative status with the United National Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) can be accredited to take part in the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review as observers.
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