Contribution by the Dominicans to the UPR on Brazil

Contribution by the Dominicans to the UPR on Brazil

In May 2017, Dominicans for Justice and Peace contributed to the review of Brazil in the process of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations. This UN mechanism, initiated 8 years ago by the Human Rights Council, assesses the human rights practice of each Member State of the UN every four and a half years. This review process is a unique opportunity for Dominicans at the local level to share their views on the human rights situation in their country and to raise concerns in an international forum. Before the review, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) compiles the information produced by NGOs like ourselves into a report, elements of which are used by the States when they make recommendations to the State under review.

With the support of Fr. Xavier Plassat, Dominicans for Justice and Peace submitted a report on the issue of slave labour in Brazil. Only 6 of the 50 submissions from civil society made reference to the issue of slave labour and information from only 4 (including ours) were used for the final OHCHR report. Direct reference was made to the information we provided regarding the decrease in the number of labour inspectors, the suspension of the ‘Dirty List’[1] in 2014, the institution of a new Dirty List in May 2016 and the need to exclude the terms 'exhausting day' and 'degrading conditions' from the definition of slave labour.

Among the 246 recommendations made by the States to Brazil to improve its human rights record, 9 countries focused on the question of slave labour. While most of these were general recommendations that Brazil continues or strengthens its efforts to combat slave labour, the United States came closest to the Dominicans’ recommendation to strengthen the capacity of government staff for labour inspections in recommending that Brazil ‘provide resources and training for government officials to fight against trafficking in persons’, a practice that is directly linked to slave labour.

In sum, the impact of the Dominicans’ contribution in the UPR process was more noticeable in the United Nations report than in States’ recommendations. Further lobbying with States’ delegations will be useful in future review processes. However, the report of the Dominicans, fully dedicated to slave labour, will have captured the attention of the United Nations and the States on the importance of this issue, which must remain the object of particular attention by all stakeholders


[1] The Dirty List was disclosing information about persons and enterprises involved in slave labour practices.


(13 July 2017)