Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

Outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review

18 March 2013

During its 22nd session, the Human Rights Council considered the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to several countries, such as Argentina, Switzerland, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Japan, where WILPF has sections. WILPF was there to monitor these sessions, and here are a few important points of what was said.

This session of the Human Rights Council is the opportunity for countries under review to respond to the questions and recommendations issued by other States, and also to accept or reject recommendations or even make voluntary commitments or pledges.


Out of the 119 recommendations received by Argentina during its UPR, the Argentinian government accepted 89 recommendations. 17 were taken note of, 9 were rejected and 4 have become irrelevant. More details about which recommendations were accepted and rejected are given in the addendum.

Rejected recommendations concerned violence against children, gender inequality in employment, freedom of expression, and indigenous minorities’ rights and integration.

The few major problems regarding the human rights situation in Argentina were the following:

–       discrimination against indigenous peoples

–       gender-based violence

–       criminalization of abortion

Indigenous communities often endure attacks and threats for struggling for their ancestral territories. They are also discriminated against in their daily life regarding land, education, citizenship and so on.

Stakeholders also expressed concern on environmental issues, in particular deforestation and use of pesticide, which deeply affect the living conditions of indigenous communities.

Concerns about the high maternal mortality rate, women’s sexual rights (right to abortion in particular) and sexual violence against women were also mentioned.


Out of the 140 recommendations made to Switzerland, 99 have been accepted and 41 rejected. See the addendum for more details.

Rejected recommendations concerned the adoption of an additional anti-discrimination law, the separation of minors and adults in preventive detention, family reunification and accommodation of asylum seekers.

The main problems raised were the following:

–       the absence of a general law against all forms of discrimination: Switzerland rejected this recommendation on the grounds that a sectorial and specific approach for each type of discrimination is more efficient than a general law.

–       rights of migrant workers

–       racism, xenophobia, racial discrimination and intolerance

Stakeholders raised the issues, inter alia, of the low rate of migrants’ naturalization, the lack of equality in education for foreign children, human trafficking and the absence of definition of torture in the criminal code.


Out of the 174 recommendations made to Japan during its UPR session, 148 have been either partially or totally accepted while 26 were rejected. Four of these concerned the issue of comfort women, while ten rejections concerned the abolition of the death penalty. See the addendum for more details.

The adoption of Japan’s UPR reports has been all about the issue of ‘comfort women’ for WILPF, as our Japanese Section feels very strongly about speaking out on this.

Photo of a session of the Human Rights CouncilAfter we published an earlier statement during Japan’s UPR session and some intense lobbying by the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts, four official recommendations were made to Japan on ‘comfort women’ by the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, China and Belarus. However, at this recent adoption of the UPR report, Japan has officially rejected all four these recommendations calling for accountability, citing this issue should not be politicized or ‘turned into a diplomatic issue’. Accordingly, the disapproval of this rejection was marked strongly multiple times during the session by the Republic of Korea, China, the Philippines, Amnesty International and of course WILPF, in partnership with the Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace.

Together with them and other NGO’s, we are determined to address this issue every chance we get until it becomes clear to the Japanese government this issue is not just going to go away. Read our latest statement presented at this Council session here.


Out of the 204 recommendations received, Sri Lanka accepted a total of 113, not supported 91 and undertook 19 voluntary commitments. See the addendum here for the details.

The Sri Lankan adoption of the UPR report drew a lot of attention during this session, as the Sri Lankan delegation has unfortunately been making headlines throughout the entire Human Rights Council session for its aggressive attitude towards human rights defenders. The main issue is ending impunity, organizing prosecutions and establishing the truth for the major human rights abuses perpetrated in 2009, when the Tamil rebellion was struck down by the Sri Lankan government, and thousands of civilians lost their lives. Almost all rejected recommendations concerned this issue, with the government of Sri Lanka calling attention to the lack of concern for the human rights abuses committed by the Tamil groups. The fact the UPR is a review of the government’s actions and policies by its nature therefore seemed to have eluded them.

A Human Rights Council Resolution is to be adopted at the end of this session on the promotion of reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, and is currently being fiercely negotiated by States, some of whom wish to undermine this process in its entirety.

Earlier during the session, Human Rights Watch also screened the film ‘No fire zone’ at the Council, to which the Sri Lankan delegation protested heavily and even lodged a formal complaint. The film demonstrated the widespread human rights abuses perpetrated in Sri Lanka and highlighted the lack of accountability for these crimes from the Sri Lankan government.

Read our blog on this film here, or get informed and watch Channel 4‘s documentary ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ here.

YouTube video



During the Pakistani UPR session, we hosted a side-event discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the 165 recommendations made (of which 7 were rejected), specifically focusing on their impact on women. For example, we discussed that while the positive development of Pakistan’s new law against acid crimes was welcomed during the UPR, it was not mentioned this law was only applicable in Islamabad and does not go into prevention and victim protection at all.

At the adoption of the UPR report, this was regrettably reflected, as Pakistan has put the recommendations on addressing acid crimes under the category of ‘recommendations that have already been implemented or are in the process of implementation’. In fact, most recommendations made have been put into this category by the Pakistani government, implying no new actions need to be taken by the government, while avoiding rejecting the recommendation completely.

Find the addendum to the UPR report here, so you can see for yourself how Pakistan has chosen to deal with its recommendations.


The UPR recommendations are a great tool for advocacy, they can be found on the UPR webpage.

It is up to the Member State now to implement them, with the constant monitoring of civil society. In assessments in the pass, it has been found that even recommendations not accepted are at times implemented, so feel free to use all recommendations issued by the Human Rights Council in your advocacy; of course those accepted will be an easier argument.

In four years, it will be time to assess the implementation of the recommendations and civil society will have a central role, especially if they have been able to monitor implementation during this time!

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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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