Q: What is the goal of the UPR?
A: The ultimate goal of the UPR is the improvement of the human rights situation in every country. The UPR is designed to prompt, support, and expand the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground. To achieve this, the UPR involves assessing states’ human rights records and addressing human rights violations and abuses wherever they occur. The UPR also aims to highlight states’ technical assistance needs, so that they may better enhance their capacity to deal effectively with human rights challenges. It also provides an opportunity to share best practices in the field of human rights among states and other stakeholders.
Q: How and when was the UPR established?
A: The UPR was created by the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2006, in resolution 60/251, which also established the Human Rights Council (HRC). The resolution mandated the HRC to “undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfilment 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 UPR process is, nevertheless, functionally distinct from the HRC, including in permitting review by non-HRC member states. The first UPR cycle began in 2008 and was completed in 2011.
Q: What human rights obligations are addressed?
A: The UPR will assess the extent to which States respect their human rights obligations and commitments as established in: (1) the UN Charter , (2) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , (3) human rights instruments to which the State is party, and (4) voluntary pledges and commitments made by the State.
Q: How many countries are reviewed each year?
A: The third UPR cycle started on May 1, 2017, and 112 countries have undergone review as of November 15, 2019. The UPR Working Group holds sessions three times a year to conduct the reviews. Since the UPR began, every single UN Member State has participated in every cycle.
Q: Who conducts the review?
A: The reviews conducted by the UPR working group take place with participation of all UN member states. Each State review is assisted by a group of three States, which is known as a “troika.” The selection of the troika for each State is done through a drawing of lots following elections for the Council membership in the General Assembly. The final review of the UPR package, including the UPR working group report, is conducted by the 47 members of the HRC.
Q: How does the U.S. government solicit information from the American public and civil society?
A: In preparation for the third UPR cycle, the U.S. government will conduct consultations with civil society, as it has during the prior two cycles. The Department of State also has an email inbox (USUPR2020@state.gov) to which NGOs, academics, civil society, and the general public can send questions and voice their concerns.