The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group reviewed Nigeria last week. WILPF Nigeria, in collaboration with WILPF International Secretariat, advocated for the adoption of strong recommendations on key issues. Our focus was on sexual and gender-based violence, on Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, on arms trade and on explosive weapons.

WILPF’s advocacy to promote women’s human rights

WILPF Nigeria contributed to the UPR documentation through a joint submission and wrote, in collaboration with grassroots organisations and WILPF International Secretariat, an advocacy paper, presenting seven key recommendations.

Joy Onyesoh, President of WILPF Nigeria, came in early September to attend the UPR pre-session, organised by UPR Info to present our suggested recommendations. During her stay, we met representatives of permanent missions in Geneva in bilateral and multilateral meetings and called on them to endorse our recommendations.

Since then, WILPF International kept the advocacy work going in Geneva and so did Joy in Nigeria.

WILPF’s recommendations are now part of the UPR report

During the review, member States endorsed some of our recommendations. You can read them in the report of the UPR Working Group.

In particular, Ireland recommended that the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill be passed by the Senate (recommendation 134.21), this bill will be instrumental in ending violence against women. Italy and Estonia called on Nigeria to combat gender-based violence and to enhance the legal aid programme to increase victims’ access to justice (recommendation 134.104 and 134.56). Estonia also made a recommendation on the full implementation of Nigeria’s National Action Plan on the UNSCR 1325 (recommendation 134.56).

These recommendations are an essential tool for advocacy and we welcome the endorsement of part of our recommendations by States. Nonetheless, we regret that States did not made recommendations on the control of arms trade and explosive weapons.

WILPF’s ambitious recommendations

2013 featured important milestones for a better regulation of arms trade. The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was adopted in April 2013, following seven years of discussion and negotiations. The ATT is the first ever legally binding regime that recognizes the link between gender-based violence and the international arms trade and WILPF was instrumental in making that element be in the text.

In its 24th session, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the impact of arms transfer on human rights in armed conflict. This resolution was the first time arms trade treaty has been dealt with in the Human Rights Council; the adoption is a step further in the inclusion of arms in the human rights agenda. You can read more about this resolution in a previous blog.

All these steps went in the direction of reaching the integrated approach to human rights that WILPF advocates for, where Women, Peace and Security as well as disarmament are recognised as direct factors to the enjoyment of human rights. In line with this approach, we suggested three recommendations on arms trade and explosive weapons to push for the inclusion of arms trade in the Universal Periodic Review.

States missed the opportunity to bring arms trade in the UPR

However, despite all the recent commitments by UN member States recognizing the impact of arms trade on human rights, States did not make recommendations on arms trade or explosive weapons. We regret that States did not seize the opportunity to follow the work that they have so successfully started.

WILPF will keep on pushing for the integration of women peace and security, disarmament and human rights.

WILPF International feels empowered by Joy’s words (president of Nigeria section): “We should sing full victory because now we have weapons on the agenda, we will keep pushing. We will just keep pushing the agenda forward.” Joy is working on this regionally at the ECOWAS level as we speak, we will keep doing it at the HRC, the UPR and all other treaty bodies with our sections.

What to do now?

You can read the report of the UPR Working Group on Nigeria.

WILPF International Office and WILPF Nigeria will monitor the implementation of the recommendations in Nigeria. These recommendations will be an essential advocacy tool to defend and protect women’s human rights in Nigeria and in particular to implement the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Therefore, it is essential to always refer back to these recommendations when other human rights bodies review Nigeria.

We will keep you updated on further outcomes of this process; so stay in touch and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or even better, subscribe to our newsletter, so that you get the latest news directly in your inbox.