The case of Kenya at the Universal Periodic Review

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Victor Bwire

05 Apr 2012


ARTICLE 19 has participated in UPRs in 18 countries globally, including Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. There is  a lot we can share but I will limit my presentation to Kenya as requested by the HRC President in her invitation. 

Key Guiding Principles of the KSC approach

  • The business of making laws and policy/legal reforms  lies with the government- thus government buy in and support is critical to the success of UPR outcomes
  • Given that its new and requires reviews of policies/legal framework- its requires public understanding and acceptability- critical mass needed for advocacy and policy reform purposes
  • It requires strategic thinking, interventions, public/government understanding- SMART- approach
  • Implementation marks the start of the impact phase of the UPR process and intention
  • Linking it to ongoing policy reforms and other processes in the country and within organization- it should not be isolated from rest of normal/ongoing government and private social activities
  • It requires resources- both financial and technical
  • dissemination and awareness creation of the outcome charter through translation of the charter, media and IEC material among others
  • We need buy in from development partners.


  • Kenya’s first round of universal periodic review process was completed on 22nd September 2010 with the adoption of the Kenya report by the United Nations Human Rights Council
  • The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR),  the  chief advisor of the Government on human rights and the Kenya UPR Stakeholders coalition participated in this process, in a concerted and collaborative effort that resulted in many of the concerns raised by the stakeholders being raised during the interactive dialogue session and resulting in concrete recommendations, majority of which were accepted by the State
  • We were sure that the  2nd  phase of the UPR is the actual implementation of the recommendations, as it is only upon this that real benefits emanating from the UPR process can be realized
  • A team of 17  people drawn from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights  and the KSC to assess and determine the strategies and come up with a work-plan that would be presented to all stakeholders for further discussions or endorsement
  • The team  was specifically tasked to determine:
  1. Recommendations on whose implementation Stakeholders will focus 
  2. UPR Implementation/monitoring strategy- Monitoring state implementation of the recommendations and being part of the implementers that is, that the team should partner with government in implementation of the recommendations 
  3. Stakeholder UPR Plan of Action- an outcome charter to consolidate the recommendations, detail the strategies and give timelines of proposed activities that would then be presented to the larger group of stakeholders including government for validation and adoption
  4. Device ways of engaging with the Government- building on the rapport and working relations created with the Government during the State review in Geneva.
  5. Ensure that the demands are clear and smart and a work-plan should include set timelines and responsible ministries and non -state actors. The list should avoid generic statements but clear and measurable demands that can be measured over some period of time
  6. Map out stakeholders and actors to be targeted in the implementation process who are not part of the coalition and determine how to bring them in
  • A number of activities were done including forums aimed at training the stakeholders (both Government and private) on the UPR process, several meetings at which the report was consolidated, development of the advocacy charter and engagement of the media strategy that involved media breakfast briefings, talk shows and publication of articles on thematic issues about the UPR process.
  • The team made recommendations how to engage with the various actors to ensure that new laws are in place as per the constitution, as well as how to engage with the new constitutional organs including the Executive, Cabinet Secretaries, the Constitution Implementation Committee, the Judiciary among others.
  • The implementation of the UPR recommendations cannot happen in a policy and legislative vacuum. The team should therefore determine how to link the issues raised in the UPR with other existent interventions both within the government and outside. We also recognized the close nexus between the recommendations in the UPR and the treaty body concluding observations and highlighted the need to determine how to link and ensure that there is a meeting point between the two.
  • We consolidated and prioritized the UPR recommendations and turned them round into demands/ a wish list and expectations for the stakeholders to be undertaken within the next 4 years. We clearly came out with indicators to measure of the level of implementation by both state and non -state actors through a common approach
  • Prepared a 2 page advisory to the government that captured the views of the team on the implementation of the recommendations and included the work plan and request that we meet an expanded government team drawn from various departments implied by the UPR recommendations- we had  meetings with the inter ministerial committee and lso Government agencies- Commissioners are political appointees and have connection with senior guys in the Government- so we use this to create working relation
  • 150 recommendations were made to Kenya. The Government delegation supported 128 of these recommendations; undertook to examine and provide responses to 15 recommendations in due course but no later than September 2010 when Kenya’s review report will formally be adopted at the HRC’s 15th session; and rejected 7 recommendations
  • The National Human Rights Commissions being government agencies largely responsible for advising states on protection and promotion of human rights has the biggest task in the UPR processes-, which monitors state compliance with human rights. The NHRC has respect and clout within government and development partners thus is tasked with convening UPR related meetings and activities, it has provided resources for documentation, meetings, media events and implementation
  • Non State actors are co implementers of the UPR recommendations and Treaty Monitoring Bodies recommendations through the various projects and interventions on human rights work they are doing= more importantly they monitor and document progress 
  • The best ways to engage with government is through both constructive advocacy and complimentarity in implementation of recommendations and policy reforms via educating government officers on UPR, focusing them on the process through regular joint regular activities and inviting them, involving them in public awareness campaigns, trainings, development of draft laws/policies, assisting in research, constructive criticism of policies  and provision of resources to support their activities 
  • The UPR project is going on well so far though faced by challenges including fatigue by members, fall off by other stakeholders, lack of resources to support training and public education, competing interests from other initiatives, technical capacity for bother government and non -state actors to implement monitor and document impact 
  • There is need for development partners to link up their support with UPR- to ensure enough support both technical and financial to the Government and NGOs to continue engaging with the UPR
  • We did develop a joint proposal to seek support for the KSC UPR activities but yet to get any support- so we continue without support  


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