UPR: Overview

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique mechanism of the United Nations (UN) which entails a review of the human rights records of all 192 Member States of the UN once every four years. The process is designed to improve the human rights situation on the ground of each of the Member States. The UPR operates under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, and is a State-driven process, which provides the State with the opportunity to affirm the positive actions taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries, in fulfilment of their human rights obligations. The UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.

The UPR was created on 15 March 2006 by UN General Assembly through resolution 60/251, which also established the Human Rights Council. By 2011, the UPR completed the 1st cycle of the review and thus reviewed the human rights records of every country. No other universal mechanism of this kind currently exists. The UPR is an important tool used by the Council to promote the full respect and implementation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in Member States, this ultimately working towards the aim of improving human rights in all countries and addressing violations, wherever they occur.

The UPR process takes place at the UN Palais des Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland by Members of the UN Human Rights Council. The UPR process is a four year cycle. All 192 UN Member States are reviewed every four years. 42 States are reviewed each year during three UPR sessions dedicated to 14 States each. An ‘outcome report’ is produced at the end of each review, which lists the recommendations made to the State under review. The report includes those recommendations accepted by the State and which it will have to implement before the next review. The UPR consists of 3 key stages:

  1. Review of the human rights situation of the Member State.
  2. Implementation between two reviews of the accepted recommendations, voluntary pledges and commitments by the State.
  3. At the next review, the State reports on the implementation of the recommendations and pledges and on the human right situation in their country.

The UPR is considered as a continuous process and States are expected to monitor how human rights are implemented at all times during the four years.

Further information is available on the United Nations UPR website.

See also the Universal Periodic Review website UPR-info.org.