In their letter, the organisations express their deep concern that despite the sovereign right of their country to reject recommendations concerning the meaning of gender and gender identity, marriage and ratification of the so-called Istanbul Convention, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights encourages Bulgaria to implement them as part of a newly developed "Comprehensive National Action Plan on Human Rights", thus calling for their revision.
In the letter, they state that in order for Member States and civil society to continue to participate in good faith in the Universal Periodic Review, they must be confident that its principles will be respected by all stakeholders.
According to civil society organizations, the nature of the letter and the choice of recommendations from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights exceeded its mandate.
The OHCHR letter violates the basic principles and guidelines of the UN and the UPR and constitutes unlawful interference, undermining its role in promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, the organizations said.
It duplicates the efforts of member states for the periodic review in a selective manner, trying to review the responses of the Bulgarian government to recommendations that it legitimately and definitively chose not to support, the letter said.
In their address, they urge the Office of the High Commissioner to withdraw its letter and refrain from taking such action in the future.
Copy of the letter is sent to Teodora Genchovska, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Bulgaria, Birgit van Hout from the United Nations Human Rights Regional Office for Europe and Gianni Magazzeni, Chief of the UPR Branch at OHCHR. Below is the text of the letter along with the names of the organization that have signed it.