Universal Periodic Review
Universal Periodic Review
What is UPR?
One of the primary mechanisms of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – a national human rights examination that each of the 193 UN member states must undertake every four and a half years. The mechanism was established in 2006 by UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251, when the HRC was created to replace the former Commission on Human Rights. The UPR is now in its second cycle, whereby all member states underwent their first review during 2008-2011. As part of the review process, the state must compile a national report highlighting the country’s human rights situation, including what policies and actions have been put in place to make sure that it is fulfilling its international human rights obligations. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also prepares a report on the state prior to its review, which includes information from other UN agencies and treaty bodies. During the review at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, all other UN member states have the opportunity to praise, raise concerns or make recommendations for improved human rights practices in the state. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.
A review of a state is based on three sources of information:
- Information provided by the State in its national report;
- Information from independent human rights experts and groups;
- Information from other stakeholders including non-governmental organisations and national human rights institutions.
The UPR process allows several instances of engagement with civil society at both the national and international level. While compiling its national report, the state under review is expected to engage in dialogue with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as provided in HRC resolution 5/1. At the international level, civil society groups can submit reports on human rights issues in the country under review directly to the OHCHR, which in turn compiles a separate summary of the reports received. GWI, in consultation with the relevant NFA, can draft a submission for the OHCHR addressing the human rights situation of girls and women within the state under review, including highlighting barriers to education and gender inequality. During the review itself, NGOs and other civil society representatives are permitted to attend the session, though only states may engage in the interactive dialogue. Given GWI’s consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), its representatives are accredited to attend the UPR when in session and can report on the discussions and recommendations. GWI may also hold a side event on the occasion of the UPR, which provides an opportunity to engage civil society and state actors in a discussion on education and gender gaps in the state under review. Side events provide an important forum to discuss specific topics, which may not have received sufficient attention during the formal UPR session.