The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process that involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR was created through UN General Assembly resolution 60/251, on 15 March 2006 which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a State-driven process, conducted under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, and provides the opportunity for each States to report and declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries. The reviews take place in the working group which has the same composition as the Human Rights Council. All 193 States were considered over a period of four years for each cycle. From 2008 to 2011 (first cycle) 2012 to 2016 (second cycle). The third cycle of the UPR is now in progress (2017-2021).
As part of the process, States put forward recommendations aimed at assisting States under review in improving their human rights situation. States under review are expected to indicate their position on the recommendations, thus committing to implementing supported recommendations and to report on action taken and the status of implementation of recommendations and voluntary pledges at the subsequent cycle. In doing so they also highlight the main developments and challenges in addressing the human rights situation on the ground since the previous review.
The UPR is currently at the beginning of the third cycle and Fourteen States had their outcome reports adopted at the 36th Human Rights Council (HRC) session –fourteen other states were reviewed in November 2017. The High Commissioner for Human Rights wrote to the respective Foreign Ministers of the member states encouraging them to take action in a number of areas and recommending the establishment of national follow up and implementation mechanisms as well as a better alignment between human rights and development efforts under the leadership of the UNRC. It is therefore timely to draw on experiences and challenges faced by countries in addressing issues of concern raised in their reviews, including on structures and policies established at national level to report and implement recommendations.
OHCHR as the Secretariat of the of the HRC and its UPR has been providing technical and capacity support to states on this subject and is continuing to organize a series of sub-regional workshops, to facilitate the sharing of good practices and lessons learned on the various stages of the UPR process – especially follow up action and implementation of recommendations. The workshops are a useful tool for the exchange of practice and experience, including among peers. In that respect a two-day workshop for English-speaking States in Africa, has been organized to take place in Entebbe, Uganda, 23-24 April 2018.