What civil society is doing to guarantee Myanmar’s commitment to human rights

Yangon, Myanmar – More than six months after Myanmar’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR), civil society organisations (CSOs), lawyers, and international organisations met in Yangon on 16-18 May to plan future engagement and follow up on the recommendations Myanmar received from United Nations (UN) member states in November 2015.

UPR is a UN process that allows member states to review the human rights records of its peers and gives states the opportunity to discuss actions they have taken to promote human rights. During the last UPR session, Myanmar received 281 recommendations from 93 member states and ultimately accepted 166 of those recommendations.

During the event, participants identified advocacy priorities related to the right to information, the independence of the Union Election Commission (UEC), directly elected governments at the state and region levels, ethics in the legal field, and the ratification of international treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Participants also shared their experiences with the UPR process and highlighted the challenges in Myanmar, such as the lack of national consultation, collaboration among CSOs, and a low level of knowledge and awareness about the UPR.

Panel discussions focused on international standards and the treaty ratification process in Myanmar; independence of the judiciary and media; recommendations to increase political participation; and the tools that CSOs could use to monitor implementation of the 2015 recommendations and how to engage with theUPR. During a final wrap-up exercise, participants worked in groups to plan a strategy and timeline for advocacy ahead of the next UPR session.

Democracy Reporting International (DRI), the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) organised the event, which was attended by 21 participants from local civil society organisations, domestic election observers, human rights defenders, lawyers, and media, many of whom were involved in submitting third party reports to Myanmar’s 2015 UPR session.

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