Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women and Action Canada for Population and Development made this statement in collaboration with Sexual Rights Initiative and Right Here Right Now.
Sexual and reproductive rights are grounded in existing human rights instruments and the UPR has provided an invaluable opportunity to highlight gaps relating to Member States’ obligations to respect, protect and fulfil these rights.
National civil society organisations and individual human rights defenders have played a significant role in this process by bringing rights violations to the attention of member states and by demanding accountability for the implementation of the recommendations made during the UPR. Some states have ensured the participation of civil society in this process– unfortunately, the majority have not.
In addition, number of gaps have emerged over the past two cycles that warrant attention and remedy. Particular themes related to sexual and reproductive rights continue to be underrepresented or ignored in states’ recommendations, despite being addressed in numerous stakeholder reports. For example, comprehensive sexuality education, adolescent sexuality, universal access to modern contraception, safe and legal abortion and sex work. When these issues are raised, they are often not accepted by the states under review on dubious grounds, like incompatibility with national values, which undermine the universality of human rights and the very basis of the UPR.
The potential of the UPR cannot be realised unless states ensure meaningful participation of civil society in the assessment of their human rights record, the development of their state reports, and the formulation of follow-up action plans for implementation of recommendations. Finally we call on the UPR Voluntary Fund to increase the support available to member states to engage in the UPR and implement its outcome.