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Human Rights: Universal Periodic Review of Spain

8 December 2014

On 21 January 2015, Spain will be reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) for its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR). It was previously reviewed by the HRC in 2010.


The UPR is the main mechanism used by the HRC to assess the human rights situation of every state. States are reviewed every four years. If you’d like to learn more about it, watch our webinar on the HRC and the UPR.

The NGO panel for the UPR pre-session on Spain
The NGO panel for the UPR pre-session on Spain

Before each review, Geneva-based NGO UPR-Info organises a pre-session for civil society organisations (CSOs). This gives them the opportunity to share their assessment of the human rights situation and accomplishments in the country under review. It also gives the opportunity for CSOs to suggest recommendations that UN Member States can endorse, since only Member States participate in the UPR itself.

WILPF’s Human Rights programme monitored the pre-session on Spain, and WILPF Spain took the floor to share its recommendations.


Both Amnesty International Spain and WILPF Spain expressed great concern over the impunity and the lack of investigations on the crimes and violations committed during the Franco regime.

Amnesty International denounced the lack of collaboration of the Spanish authorities with the investigations in Argentina, and urged Spain to investigate these past crimes under international law and thus bring truth, justice and reparations to the victims.

WILPF Spain suggested that a truth commission be created and implemented in order to investigate these specific violations.


One of the major concerns regarding human rights in Spain is the treatment of undocumented migrants and asylum seekers. According to the Human Rights Institute of Catalonia, it is urgent that Spain puts an end to collective and immediate expulsions, and ensures a free and universal healthcare system for all residents in the Spanish territory.

Generally speaking, all Spanish residents’ economic, social and cultural rights should be guaranteed and protected. Indeed, most NGOs present at this pre-session highlighted the fact that the situation in Spain has drastically changed since the previous review in 2010. At the previous UPR, economic, social and cultural rights were barely mentioned, while there is now an urgent need to address and prioritise them.


In our recommendations, we addressed a broad range of topics. Among others, WILPF Spain denounced the decrease in quality of care services to women victims of gender based violence, and urged the Spanish authorities to assign sufficient resources for comprehensive protection measures.

WILPF Spain stressed that if budget cuts affect human rights, and women’s rights in particular, the economic recession is not the only reason behind Spain’s lack of action. There is also a lack of political will from the Spanish authorities.

In addition, WILPF expressed concern on the high judicial fees that impede equal access to justice, and we emphasised the necessity to strictly control arms sales to countries where there is risk of weapons being used to violate human rights.

We shared these recommendations widely with states representatives in Geneva, so we now hope that some of them will endorse our recommendations during the actual review of Spain that will take place in January 2015.

For more information, read WILPF’s recommendations for the UPR of Spain.

Para más información, lee las recomendaciones de WILPF para el EPU de España.


The UPR of Spain will take place on 21 January 2015. WILPF’s Human Rights programme will attend the session and will keep you posted on the outcome of the review. Don’t forget to keep an eye on our website and to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. To get the latest news directly to your inbox, subscribe to our Human Rights programme newsletter.

In the meantime, spread the word about the UPR mechanism!

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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