Self-advocate Mia Farah presents at UPR Pre-session

Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR, The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process that involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. The UPR is a significant innovation of the Human Rights Council based on equal treatment for all countries. It provides an opportunity for all States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. The UPR also includes a sharing of best human rights practices around the globe. Currently, no other mechanism of this kind exists. It was established in March 2006. The ultimate goal of UPR is the improvement of the human rights situation in every country with significant consequences for people around the globe.

NGO’s can participate by submitting a report highlighting the Human rights situation in their country.

Human Rights in Lebanon

A pre-session meeting was organized in Geneva in October 2015 between civil society and permanent missions to discuss the situation of human rights in Lebanon to be considered at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November 2015.

With the help and support of IDA, self-advocate Mia Farah was able to go to Geneva to talk about the situation in Lebanon.

Mia’s Presentation

During their stay, Mia and Fadia Farah met seven Permanent Missions for a meeting of thirty minutes during which Mia spoke about her presentation containing requests to those States. Assistant of the International Disability Alliance accompanied them.

Permanent Mission of China

The first meeting with the representative of China. Mia presented and her support gave brief explanations and illustrations to what was said about inclusive education. The representative of China, asked Mia how far she went with her study? Was it an inclusive education with students without disabilities? And how was it? She then shared the situation in China, and thanked Mia for her presentation. The representative of China explained that she will submit the recommendations proposed in the presentation to her superior but nothing was certain. After this first meeting, decision was made to reshape Mia’s presentation to make it shorter and more straight forward.

Permanent Mission of Canada

This meeting was with the representative of Canada. After Mia presentation, the representative of Canada asked her about her education, if was it was in the private or the public sector? Mia could explain the difficulties she faced including how and why she is self-advocated. Afterwards Fadia presented the impact of the Lebanese law 220/2000, as the representative of Canada was aware about it. She thanked Mia for her clear presentation and for the suggested recommendations to Lebanon.

The representative of Canada explained the process of the recommendations as follows:
From the capital Ottawa they are sent to the Canadian Embassy in Beirut for suggestions and only after to Geneva for some suggestions. The final decision will be taken in the capital. Regarding the recommendations presented by Mia, she asked which one is the most important for her and Mia chose education.

It was a great meeting in the sense that Mia, her support and the assistant were satisfied by the feedback regarding the clarity of the presentation.

Permanent Mission of Italy:

The second meeting with the representative of Italy was similar to the previous one in the sense that she explained the process of the recommendations for the Universal periodic review. After her presentation, Mia illustrated how it was impossible for her to vote, because of the lack of accessible information, the lack of support to understand and the lack of physical accessibility. She also shared her personal story about languages and how she, as a Lebanese woman, doesn’t speak Arabic very well, due to the educational system in Lebanon for people with disabilities.

The representative of Italy asked her to choose one recommendation as the most important. The choice had been on the right of employment.

Permanent Mission of Australia:
Permanent Mission of New Zealand:

The meeting was with the two representatives of those missions. After Mia’s presentation, the representative of Australia explained that they were inclusive on the education and on many other areas. Both were very interested on the right to vote in Lebanon for people with disabilities. Mia shared her experience in voting. Fadia gave a brief explanation on the situation of the parents of persons with disability regarding the education of their children. She illustrated this by how she finally succeeded to put Mia in school.

The chosen recommendation was on the right to vote.

Permanent Mission of Mexico:

Mia and Fadia met the representative of Mexico. After Mia’s presentation an interactive dialogue started. The representative of Mexico asked about education, the right to vote and the legal capacity. Mia’s support answered clearly and Mia’s gave illustrations as on the previous meeting. The representative encouraged them to send additional ideas or documents, and she was looking forward to receive the Report on the situation in Lebanon. She explained that Mexico first raise their questions to Lebanon. She said it would be interesting to have the answer as the Lebanese State probably expect questions explicitly on the political situation, and not on the situation of people with disabilities. Only then they will choose which recommendations they will address to Lebanon.
The chosen recommendation was on the right to employment.

Permanent Mission of the United States of America:

This was the last Mission visited by Mia and Fadia. After Mia’s presentation, the representative of the United States of America started a discussion with Mia about the educational system in Lebanon and the situation of persons with disability in the country. Again Mia was able to share her experience at the school. She highlighted the fact that schools are not inclusive. Then the representative of the United States of America asked questions about the health situation in Lebanon and Fadia gave clear answers.

The most important request chosen by Mia was the right to Education.

After each meeting an email of thanks had been sent to the representatives with Mia’s presentation attached. Fadia sent them the Report on the situation in Lebanon. The meetings went well. Mia and Fadia had always been thanked for sharing their recommendations. All Permanent Missions replied to the sent emails.

This report was prepared with the help of Hafida Otmani from IDA.