The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was established in 2006 to assess how individual member states of the United Nations respect their human rights commitments. The process highlights any gaps in human rights fulfilment and protection in the state under review. Each state is reviewed under the UPR every four years.
In October 2011, Ireland’s human rights record was examined under the UPR. Six states - France, Denmark, UK, Slovenia, Spain, and the Netherlands - made recommendations in relation to Ireland’s restrictive laws on abortion. They also called for firm timelines for the implementation of the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the case of A, B and C v Ireland. Although none of the recommendations on abortion were accepted, the Government made a commitment to address the A, B and C v Ireland judgment in an “adequate and comprehensive” manner (more on implemention process here) and to “meet our obligations under the convention of human rights”.
Ireland’s human rights record will be reviewed under the UPR again in 2016.
The 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.
In March 2001, the IFPA submitted a Stakeholder Summary Report to the UPR Working Group, highlighting the human rights violations of women and girls in Ireland who are denied access to safe and legal abortion services within the State. The 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 the full submission here.
In March 2012, at the nineteenth session of the Human Rights Council, 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. All three statements highlighted the need for the Irish Government to heed other states’ recommendations and reform its prohibitive regulation of abortion.
In its oral statement, delivered by Action Canada for Population and Development on the IFPA’s behalf, the IFPA emphasised that several international human rights bodies have consistently expressed concern over Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws and failure to clarify the circumstances under which lawful abortions may take place:
• 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.