February 11, 2016
Good morning, thank you for organizing this important meeting on the Second Cycle of the U.S. UPR, and your continued commitment to the UPR process; we look forward to a productive discussion. On behalf of the US Human Rights Networks' UPR taskforce we offer the following suggestions, as well as a number of questions, on the implementation of the UPR recommendations.
First, since the U.S. Government adoption of the 260 UPR recommendations (in whole or in part) last September, we are interested to know what steps have you already taken towards implementation, and what are your future plans for implementation?
We appreciate the formation of the interagency working groups in order to implement recommendations, and we request that each working group develop a specific plan and timeline for the implementation of the UPR recommendations that the group will focus on. Such working group plans and timelines should be shared with civil society in order to allow sufficient planning to achieve maximum participation and effectiveness, and we suggest include a commitment to hold two consultations per a year. Further, we request that the contact for each agency lead within every interagency working group be shared, and this information be posted not only on the humanrights.gov website, but the agency websites.
In addition to each working group developing specific plans and timelines for implementation, we suggest that an annual year-end report be published and made available to civil society, and state and local officials, which measures the progress of implementation for every working group. We propose that the first such annual report be published before the end of this administration, in order to ensure that any new administration will acknowledge and continue the valuable work that has been done during this UPR cycle. We also think annual reporting would help generate accountability and conversation within the agencies, as well as aid in the future USG UPR report writing cycle. Finally, we surge the US Government to submit a mid-term UPR report to the UN, before the UN due date of January 2018.
We have found that communities affected by human rights violations in the US see the UPR as a useful tool in promoting social change at home. We hope the USG will work towards implementation while also considering the UPR an effective tool, and not just an exercise to show the US is open to criticism. For example, we have appreciated the leadership of the EPA, through the ESCR working group, in consulting with the human rights to water and sanitation coalition that USHRN coordinates.
In close, to ensure institutionalization and accountability of the working groups coordination, we reiterate the recommendations made in the August 21, 2015 letter to Secretary Kerry by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights – that we signed onto, and we urge you to support the promulgation of an Executive Order to establish a high-level Interagency Working Group on Human Rights Implementation with a mandate to oversee and coordinate the implementation of U.S. human rights obligations domestically, including the implementation of the UPR recommendations. We believe this new Interagency Working Group on Human Rights Implementation should be led by the Domestic Policy Council with the State Department and National Security Council, and should engage all relevant domestic agencies at the principal level. Thank you.