UNESCO launches new guidelines for UN Country Teams to promote freedom of expression through the Universal Periodic Review


UNESCO launched new guidelines aimed at providing practical advice to United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs) on how the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) exercise can be used to promote access to information, freedom of expression and the safety of journalists.

The UPR is a unique, state-driven process within the UN system, involving the continuous assessment of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.  It is informed by reports submitted by Member States, civil society and UN agencies.

The UNESCO guidelines were designed specifically for UN Country Teams to maximize the use of the UPR at the country level. They provide practical examples for engaging with the UPR prior, during and after the review. The daily groundwork of UNCTs involves an ongoing dialogue with States, and with broad sectors of society. As such, UNCTs are well-placed to bring a variety of social actors together to advance on national commitments, including those related to information, freedom of expression and the safety of journalists.

The Guidelines can be accessed here: The Universal Periodic Review and its potential to foster freedom of expression, access to information and safety of journalists.

Promoting multi-stakeholder cooperation during all the phases of the UPR is essential for its well-functioning. UNESCO´s Guidelines for UNCTs aim to enhance and reinforce that cooperation.

Xing Qu, UNESCO Deputy Director-General

The guidelines for UN Country Teams were drafted by Denise Cook, a former Resident Coordinator and included inputs from members of UN Country Teams in different countries. With the upcoming fourth cycle, they will be a useful tool to stress the importance of the UPR process and the essential role that Resident Coordinators can play during it.

UNCTs, under the leadership of the UNRC have a crucial role to play in promoting the 2030 Agenda, leveraging forward movement on the SDGs and highlighting a human-rights based approach to development.

Denise Cook, Author of UNESCOs Guidelines on the UPR for Country Teams

Within the framework of a project to promote freedom of expression through the UPR, UNESCO will publish more guidelines for other UPR stakeholders, such as Journalists and National Human Rights Institutions.

The guidelines were produced through funding from UNESCO’s Multi-Donor Programme on freedom of expression and safety of journalists.

About the Multi-Donor Programme for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (MDP)

The MDP serves to further strengthen UNESCO work at a global, regional, and national levels, by channeling funds towards emerging priorities and the most pressing needs to achieve its mandate on freedom of expression. It enables UNESCO Communication and Information Sector to address complex issues through the design and implementation of holistic medium and long-term interventions at national, regional and global levels. The clear advantage of this mechanism is that it allows UNESCO and its partners to achieve greater impact and sustainability, whilst reducing fragmentation of activities in the same field.
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