4th cycle UN UPR in-country pre-session held in Accra

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The POS Foundation, with support from the UN Office, Ghana and German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, has organised an in-country pre-session on Ghana’s fourth cycle UN Universal Peer Review (UPR), in Accra,

The event was to provide an avenue for Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s) to meet and interact with members of the Diplomatic Corps and development partners with the targeted goal of discussing the state of Ghana’s human rights to furnish the diplomats with information towards the UPR peer review in Geneva, in 2023.

It is also to serve as a response to previous recommendations made during the 3rd UPR cycle and to enhance the quality and number of recommendations made to the State of Ghana towards the protection and promotion of Human Rights.

Mr Johnathan Osei Owusu, Executive Director, POS Foundation, said the session was also to orient the media and draw their active participation in the UN UPR, Human Rights Treaty bodies and monitoring mechanisms.

He said it was also to share good practices on lobbying and advocacy within the UPR and how best to utilize the process to facilitate the development and finalization of advocacy tools and prepare CSOs to participate in the Geneva Pre-Session.

“The in-country pre-session is expected to bring together 25 CSO representatives from different thematic and geographical areas to meet with 25 members of the Diplomatic Corp based in Accra, provide an opportunity for the CSOs to lobby the diplomats on the issues that are of importance to the citizenry.”

He said Ghana had been reviewed three times, in 2008, 2012 and 2017 and was heading for the fourth cycle. For the second cycle, Ghana accepted 123 out of 150 recommendations, and in the third cycle, Ghana received 241 recommendations but accepted 212.

In preparing for Ghana’s fourth cycle review, CSOs came together in a broad-based coalition and developed 14 Human Rights reports under various thematic areas which were submitted to the UN HRC before the deadline, of July 14, 2022.

Mr Osei Owusu said in furtherance, the CSOs have, among other things, developed Factsheets which summarize the said reports by isolating key issues, giving an overview of the current state of human rights in Ghana from their perspective, providing statistics, identifying challenges, and proposing recommendations for the issues.

The factsheets, he said, had been developed with the desired aim of enhancing coordinated and sustained lobbying between CSOs and representatives of recommending States ahead of Ghana’s review in Geneva.

He said Ghana must take UPR seriously as a process and not an event, and try as much as possible to be proactive to enforce and implement all recommendations received and assured that civil society would continue to push the government to form partnerships to be able to address these issues.

Nana Abena Brenya Okyere, Principal State Attorney, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, said the state’s paramount desire was to establish an environment, which adequately fosters economic and social development by promoting human rights across all sectors.

She said the state’s efforts under the UPR mechanism were progressing steadily, which was the setting up of the National Mechanisms for Reporting and Follow-ups (NMRF), functioning under the office of the Attorney General to manage not only the UPR but also other UN reporting mechanism in Ghana.

She said the NMRF was set up with the desired aim of enhancing continuous reporting, and monitoring of recommendations and progress made by the state concerning the implementation of the said recommendations.

“The state through NMRF was working tirelessly towards the success of this UPR cycle and in that regard was done drafting its report which has been submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, she added.

Nana Okyere noted that a handful of success had been chalked by the state since the last review which include setting up of the NMRF, the passage of the right to information law, the narcotics control commission act, and the noncustodial sentencing bill drafted by POS foundation.

She commended the diplomatic community for supporting the activities of CSO’s in promoting the rights of persons and expressed the hope that both reports submitted by the state and CSO’s would help draw a clear balance on the actual state of human rights in Ghana and put the diplomatic community in a strategic position towards making specific, measurable, achievable result oriented and time bound recommendations to Ghana as a state.

Some Diplomatic Corps and development partners present at the pre-session include the Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, the Norwegian and German Ambassadors to Ghana, as well as a representative of the United Nations Resident Coordinator.

The UPR is a peer review process where recommendations are issued from state to state, and an important factor for change. Governments, therefore, accept with less reluctance the involvement of CSOs in the implementation of commitments relating to human rights issues.

It is a unique human rights mechanism where each of the 193 UN Member States are peer- reviewed and examined on their entire human rights record every five years regardless of its size or political influence, under the same rules and supervision.

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