In December 2019 , TSC Delegation (Siang Bacthi/USA and Teo Virasih/France) attended the Universal Periodic Review of Vietnam at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
UPR PRE-SESSIONS IN GENEVA – DEC 10-12, 2018
REPORTED BY SIANG BACTHI
Dec. 10, 2018 Training Day
About 30 people attended the training, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, including TSC’s delegation – Siang Bacthi/USA and Teo Virasih/France. Following is the summary of the training:
Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
- In 2006 the UPR was established, under the remit of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), to review all UN Member States (countries).
- There are 193 UN Member States, plus the Holy See (Vatican) and the State of Palestine as observers.
- The Working Group doing the reviews meets 3 times/sessions in Geneva, Switzerland: January, May, and November.
- In each session, 14 countries are reviewed (Vietnam and Cambodia in January 2019).
- Each review is based on 3 reports:
- National Report – the country under review (e.g. Vietnam) explains its accomplishments and challenges in implementing recommendations since the previous review.
- Compilation of UN Information – the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) compiles information it receives from various UN agencies and other States.
- Stakeholders Summary – OHCHR summaries reports submitted by various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and national human rights institutions.
- The UPR process is cyclical every 5 years. The first cycle started in 2008-2011, the second 2012-2016, the third 2017-2021.
- Each session of review lasts about 3-4 days, in Geneva.
- Roughly 6-8 months before the review, concerned NGOs can submit written statements known as submissions to OHCHR.
- An NGO can submit one submission, and another with other joint-submission.
- The Pre-Sessions Program was organized by UPR Info, a non-profit organization headquartered in Geneva.
- The Pre-Sessions create a space to allow for everyone to come together – NGOs and States.
- The Pre-Sessions meeting takes place one month prior to the UPR review.
- On each session, UPR Info selects 5-6 NGOs to discuss their submissions and to submit them to OHCHR for UPR review under the Stakeholders Summary.
- Each NGO’s representative, of these 5-6 NGOs, presents or speaks for 5 minutes in front of the Permanent Missions (States’ ambassadors).
- Some states’ ambassadors make recommendations.
Group Work – Participants were split into several groups to work on UPR advocacy exercises by using two forms: the FACTSHEET & the “Promoting and Strengthening the UPR.”
Dec. 11, 2018 Pre-Sessions for other countries. To get some knowledge on the system, we attended their sessions.
Dec. 12, 2018 Pre-Session for Vietnam, 9:00-10:00 am. Since TSC’s submission was not selected by UPR Info to review, we attended the meeting as observers only. Following is the summary of the Pre-Session:
- Six NGOs were selected to review and speak at the meeting:
- The Death Penalty
- Discrimination Against Women in Laws & Policies
- LGBT Rights
- Labor Rights
- Children Rights
- VOICE for Human Rights
- The first 5 NGOs, by joint-submissions, are based in the country, inside Vietnam.
- The VOICE’s office is based in Bangkok but run by Vietnamese, including the speaker.
- Each submission was well presented with credible and reliable information for the last 4 years.
- No indigenous or minority groups, other than the Tai Dam, were present at the meeting.
- Note: There was a table for all displays such as flyers & booklets for the Permanent Missions to collect, including TSC flyers. We also displayed the “Zero Hunger” banner outside the meeting room during break-times, and met with representatives of Vietnam, USA and Australia.
CONCLUSION: Following are our observation and recommendations:
- Submissions from minority groups, such as Tai or Khmer Krom, won’t probably be reviewed at the UPR Vietnam Review on January 21-24, 2019, because none was selected by UPR Info.
- If TSC plans to submit a Tai Dam issue or issues of human rights at the next UPR review, we should start documenting all relevant information and references in the next 4 years.
- Beside the written submission, there are 2 important documents or formats for TSC to follow and work on – the FACTSHEET & the “Promoting and Strengthening the UPR.”