The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in collaboration with the United Nations (UN) Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights East Africa Regional Office (OHCHR-EARO) and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) organized a workshop on November  22, 2023  to build the capacity of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on engagement with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), as Ethiopia is scheduled to be reviewed (4th Cycle) during the 47th Session of the UPR Working Group in November 2024. The workshop brought together participants from CSOs, academia and experts from OHCHR-EARO, DIHR and EHRC. 

The UPR examines the human rights record of Member States based on the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights treaties ratified by the State, voluntary pledges and commitments by the State and applicable international humanitarian law.

The workshop highlighted that while the UPR primarily remains a State-to-State peer review system, CSOs play an important role in the entire process, from preparation of national reports up to their consideration by the UPR Working Group. In this regard, best practices show that CSOs should be part of a national consultative process prior to the drafting of a national report and that they should also participate in the review process by forwarding their own written observations to the UPR. The workshop included simulation exercises whereby CSOs prepared thematic submissions based on the Third Cycle UPR recommendations to Ethiopia. 

Workshop participants

EHRC, OHCHR-EARO and DIHR encouraged CSOs to actively participate in Ethiopia’s review during the Fourth cycle of the UPR, stressing the importance of meaningfully engaging with regional and international human rights processes to advance human rights in Ethiopia. 

In his opening remarks, Dr. Abdi Jibril, Commissioner for Civil, Political and Socio-Economic Rights, stated that “unlike other international processes, the UPR accommodates all human rights including civil and political, as well as socio-economic and cultural rights.” He indicated that EHRC has organised a series of trainings and workshops to support CSOs to meaningfully engage with regional and international human rights processes and mechanisms, adding that the workshop was organised in that spirit. He underscored that “CSOs and other actors working on human rights in Ethiopia should effectively use the UPR platform to push the human rights agenda in the country.” 

OHCHR-EARO, on its part, emphasised the crucial role of diverse stakeholders in supporting, monitoring and advocating for the proper implementation of recommendations emanating from the UPR and other treaty bodies.