There are a number of human rights mechanisms that could be relevant to the shadow reporting process. There is a lot of overlap between the international human rights mechanisms and SDG 16. It is possible to use information from human rights reporting mechanisms to inform the shadow report, especially since international human rights standards are legally binding, unlike the SDGs. For example, the recommendations of human rights monitoring bodies, such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and UN Special Rapporteurs provide recommendations that are immediately relevant for realising the SDGs in specific countries. These recommendations could help to identify priority areas for the implementation of SDGs and which vulnerable group might require additional support.
As stated by the Danish Institute for Human Rights, “Operationalising the links between human rights and the SDGs, and making use of human rights recommendations in national SDG implementation strategies, strengthens efficiency and policy coherence, increases accountability, and ensures that no one is left behind.”1
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is the ‘human rights exam’ all UN Member States take every 5 years. 42 States are peer-reviewed in Geneva each year during three Working Group sessions. The UPR is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aimed at improving the human rights situation on the grounds of each of the 193 UN Member States. NGOs can actively contribute to the UPR process through so-called stakeholder submissions.
Each UPR review is based on 3 reports about the human rights situation from the State under Review (SuR) that are produced by 1.) the State under review, 2.) civil society and national human rights institutes, and 3.) the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This means that CSOs have a formal role in this review process. It would be interesting for CSOs to explore the possibility for a similar mechanism in the VNR process, where the shadow reports are an official part of the VNR and they are incorporated into the UN system.
The next chapter provides a number of data sources where you can find information about the UPR process and its recommendations.
Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures mandate holders are made up of special rapporteurs, independent experts or working groups composed of five members who are appointed by the Council and who serve in their personal capacity. Special procedures mandate holders undertake country visits; act on individual cases and concerns of a broader, structural nature by sending communications to States and other actors bringing alleged violations or abuses to their attention; conduct thematic studies and convene expert consultations; contribute to the development of international human rights standards; engage in advocacy; raise public awareness; and provide advice for technical cooperation.
Of particular relevance for SDG 16.10 is the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. There are other rapporteurs who work on themes that overlap with freedom of expression and media freedom issues, such as cultural rights, minority issues, arbitrary detention, torture and disappearances. On the website of the current UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, one can find information on international and regional standards, annual thematic reports, country visits and comments on legislation and policy.
Similar mechanisms also appear at regional levels where human rights commission and regional courts play a fundamental role. These include:
- African Commission of Human and People’s Rights (African Union)
- African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
- Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Organization of American States)
- Inter-American Court of Human Rights
- Council of Europe
- European Court of Human Rights
- Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
For more information about these mechanisms, refer to the Free Press Unlimited Media Advocacy Resource Guide.