By Noor Nakibuuka
International mechanisms are often not given much attention, probably because majority of Ugandans are not aware of their existence or importance. Unlike the previous review of the country in 2011, Ugandans are more than ready to participate in the Universal periodic review (UPR) of 2016.
The universal periodic review is a unique process of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aimed at improving the human rights situation for each of the 193 member states – Uganda inclusive. This mechanism gives room for each country under review to provide information on the Human rights situation there, and between October and November 2016, Uganda will undergo a review.
In preparation for this review, various civil society organisations have set the agenda. CEHURD has led civil society organizations working to promote the right to health in Uganda (including sexual reproductive health rights) to put together and submit reports prior to the review.
Indeed, much of the information provided relates to the situation of the right to health from the previous review to date, citing what recommendations the state committed to, what it has done and not.
The report also introduced new areas that were never discussed in the previous review but have evolved with time and may affect the realization of the right to health – mental health laws; access to safe and legal abortion; Access to sexual reproductive health services and information by the youth among others are some of the areas introduced in the submitted reports.
Putting the reports together necessitated time, trainings on universal periodic review, meeting with experts on the same and understanding standard guidelines set by the office of high commissioner for human rights that duly receives these reports.
Although the state still has time within which to submit its report, we anticipate that the process will be consultative and civil society given room to input into the state report. We appreciate the space the state has provided us in participating into the national Action plan which was a voluntary pledge made during the previous review and hope that funds to implement such a constructive document will be prioritized in order to realize among others, the right to health.