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Universal Periodic Review

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In October 2011, Ireland’s human rights record was examined by other United Nation Member States at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR was established in 2006 to assess how individual States respect their human rights commitments. The process highlights any gaps in human rights fulfillment and protection in the State under review. Each Member State of the United Nations is reviewed under the UPR every four years.

At the October 2011 review, six States: France, Denmark, UK, Slovenia, Spain, and the Netherlands made recommendations in relation to the restrictive abortion regime in Irish law. They also called for firm timelines for the implementation of the judgment of the European Convention and Human Rights in the case of A, B and C v Ireland. (Ireland’s law on abortion contravenes a number of UN human rights treaties which Ireland is a signatory of). Information on Ireland's law in relation to abortion can be found here.

Although none of the recommendations on abortion were accepted, the Irish government made a commitment to address the A, B and C judgment in an “adequate and comprehensive” manner and to “meet our obligations under the convention of human rights”. Ireland’s human rights record will be reviewed under the UPR again in 2015.

Your Rights Right Now Campaign

The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) is one of seventeen organisations involved in the Rights Now Campaign, which seeks to ensure that the United Nations hears everybody's views about human rights in Ireland. In February 2011, the Rights Now campaign travelled around Ireland talking to individuals and organisations. The information received during this public consultation informed the compilation of the Ireland's Civil Society UPR Stakeholder Report, which was launched in April 2011.

IFPA Submissions to the UPR

In March 2012, at the nineteenth session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), the UPR Working Group report on Ireland was formally adopted. The IFPA, the Your Rights Right Now campaign and the Women’s Human Rights Alliance (WHRA) made oral statements during the session.

In its oral statement, which was delivered by Action Canada for Population and Development on the IFPA’s behalf, the IFPA emphasised that several international human rights bodies, including the UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee Against Torture, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights have expressed concern over Ireland’s severely restrictive abortion laws and failure to clarify the circumstances under which lawful abortions may take place. Read More.

All three statements highlighted the need for the Irish government to heed other States’ recommendations and reform its prohibitive regulation of abortion.

The IFPA submitted a Stakeholder Summary Report to the UPR Working Group in March 2001, focusing on the human rights violations of women and girls living in Ireland who are denied access to safe and legal abortion services within the State.

The IFPA submission highlighted how the disproportionate and ineffective nature of Ireland’s exceptionally restrictive regulation of abortion runs contrary to a number of UN human rights treaties to which Ireland is a signatory. The submission focused on Ireland’s breaches of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Read full submission here.

Links:
•    Your Rights Right Now - Ireland's UPR Campaign
•    ICCL's Plain English Guide to The Universal Periodic Review
•    ICCL's UPR Toolkit for Civil Society
•    UPR Website
•    ICCL Press Release on Government response to Recommendations.
•    IFPA: Press release regarding the UPR recommendations.
•    IFPA’s Submission on Ireland to the UPR Working Group.
•    Ireland's Civil Society UPR Stakeholder Report.
•    Irish Government's Report to the UPR.
•    Written Statement by the IPPF on the UPR's Recommendations.

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