How does the Human Rights Council measure the progress of human rights? Through mechanisms like the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). It allows to periodically review and improve the human rights situation on the ground in each of its 193 member states. A key element of this mechanism is that civil society organizations (CSOs) can submit information directly to the UN in the form of written endorsements and oral statements.
The UPR Pre-session takes place before the actual UPR and is organized by the Geneva based NGO ‘UPR-Info’. During the Pre-Session, state delegations, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), and CSOs come together to discuss the human rights situation on the ground. This gives state delegations the opportunity to learn about the status of implementation of recommendations from previous years – and it provides space for CSOs to advocate for issues they consider crucial for the next review.
At the 43rd UPR (May 2023), Botswana was under review. The Pre-Session took place from 3 to 6 April 2023. FES supported the participation of members of DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights to come to Geneva and to speak at the Pre-Session about Human Trafficking, Child Rights as well as the Ratification of international instruments on the national level. Their visit also opened a space for bilateral meetings.
The participation of CSOs in the UPR process is crucial for its success – and for the improvement of the human rights situation in UN member states.