New report finds that the UPR holds significant promise for LGBTI communities

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November 9, 2016 (Geneva)

At a joint side event at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, ARC International, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) launched their joint report on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics at the Universal Periodic Review. The report highlights the successes of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in its first two cycles and addresses the challenges in turning the UPR into a greater mechanism to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) persons on the ground.

The full report can be downloaded here and its summary is available here.

The UPR has been one of the most progressive vehicles for the protection of the rights of LGBTI persons all over the world. First, because it periodically reviews the human rights records of all UN states irrespective of which UN treaties they are parties to. Second, the review is universal and extends to a wide array of human rights, including the rights of LGBTI persons.  Third, civil society participation in the UPR is relatively easy, making it an accessible space to human rights defenders.

“Right from the outset of the creation of this mechanism eight years ago, we saw that its universal nature and uniquely accessible process could enable a new and unprecedented level of engagement with these issues within UN spaces,” said Kim Vance, Executive Director of ARC International. “This report affirms that observation and validates the investment that so many stakeholders have made.”

Some key findings of the report include the following:

  • recommending states made 1,110 recommendations on SOGIESC[1] issues, which accounts for 2.5% of all UPR recommendations
  • the most addressed SOGIESC topics were discrimination and criminalization
  • 37% of this recommendations were accepted by states, and 63% were noted
  • two-thirds of the 158 states that received a SOGIESC recommendation accepted at least one of those
  • civil society made submissions on SOGIESC issues in 171 states, and engaged with the UPR on multiple fronts, including in Geneva, through embassies and their government.

The authoring organizations welcome these positive developments, but noted some gaps and challenges:

  • state recommendations fell short of addressing trans issues and made only 10 recommendations on gender identity and expression issues
  • states did not address intersex issues and made no recommendations in this area
  • most state recommendations focused on discrimination, not addressing the wide array of human rights violations that civil society submitted information on
  • the UPR was inconsistent in reaffirming positive legal standards on SOGIESC issues
  • state recommendations were often general, their implementation difficult to measure.

Nada Chaiyajit, trans intersex human rights defender, panelist of the launch and the LGBTI representative of the Thai CSO Coalition for the UPR, noted: “The UPR should be democratic and inclusive process with comprehensive human rights scenarios on the ground to shape the SMART[2] recommendations on SOGIESC issues”.

One of the report authors, Dodo Karsay, ARC International’s Research and Information Officer, said: “There is still a discrepancy between the number of state recommendations on SOGIESC issues and the abundance of civil society inputs. We found the lack of recommendations on trans and intersex issues of particular concern. In the case of trans issues, civil society has made more than 130 submissions and over 300 recommendations that specifically address trans issues. Yet, states have made only 10 recommendations. Up until two weeks ago, we had no intersex recommendations. We hope that these gaps will be filled in cycle 3 and can firmly say that civil society is ready to support states in the process. We also encourage funders to support the important work of trans and intersex activists engaging with the UPR.”

 

For further information contact:

Kim Vance kim@arc-international.net

Dodo Karsay dodo@arc-international.net

Side event panelists included Diana Carolina Prado Mosquera, Report Author, ILGA; Dodo Karsay, Report Author, ARC International; Helene Ramos Dos Santos, Report Author, IBAHRI; Dianela Pi Cedrés, Deputy Permanent Representative, Uruguay; Nada Chaiyajit, LGBTI Representative, Thai CSO Coalition for the UPR; Henry Koh, Malaysia Human Rights Specialist, Fortify Rights; Michael van Gelderen, Human Rights Officer, OHCHR.

[1] Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics

[2] specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

 


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