The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States once every 4,5 years. This is a State-driven process, under the direction of the Human Rights Council, and provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries. Often credited as the greatest achievement of the Human Right Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country during the review.
What is the Universal Periodic Review?
The General Assembly, in its resolution 60/251, mandated the Human Rights Council to «undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States; the review shall be a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialogue, with the full involvement of the country concerned and with consideration given to its capacity-building needs; such a mechanism shall complement and not duplicate the work of treaty bodies,» The Human Rights Council has responded to this request in 2007. The first reviews took place in 2008.
How does the UPR work?
The UPR reviews every Member State of the UN periodically every 4,5 years and holds three sessions a year, reviewing different states in each session. The UPR is based on three documents: a state report, a compilation of information in relevant UN documents prepared by the OHCHR and a civil society report that is also prepared by the OHCHR. The review is conducted in the Working Group of the 47 member States of the Human Rights Council, in the form of an interactive dialogue between the state under review and the member and observer states. The outcome will be a report consisting of a summary of the proceedings, conclusions, and/or recommendations, and
the voluntary commitments of the state concerned.
What is the role of UNAs within the UPR?
Consultations, both between government and civil society, and between civil society and national human rights
institutions are crucial. A vital role for UNAs in the UPR is that of raising awareness at the national level of the
importance of the UPR and how civil society can effectively influence the process and facilitating dialogues and
consultations on key issues.
There are five main entry points through which NGOs can provide input in the UPR process.
Contribute information at the national level through consultations with government agencies involved in drafting the report.
When this is not possible or satisfactory, submit an alternative report, which will be summarized by the OHCHR
During the review in Geneva, observe the interactive dialogue (no statements can be made at this point)
Statements can be made during the plenary at the adoption of the final report
- Assist national human rights institutions in the follow-up and implementation of the recommendations from the review
What else is important to provide input in the review process?
- Make sure to know which ministry is responsible for coordination of the state report. Try to obtain drafts of the state report.
- Try to organize consultations involving all stakeholders.
- Combine efforts with all other stakeholders and raise a selected number of issues.
- Make the procedure known to everybody. Promote UPR.