The twenty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group is being held in Geneva at present, until 26 January, during which the next group of 14 States are scheduled to have their human rights records examined under this mechanism.
The group of States to be reviewed by the Universal Periodic Review Working Group during this session are (in order of scheduled review): France, Tonga, Romania, Mali, Botswana, Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein and Serbia.
Representatives of the 14 countries are scheduled to come before the Working Group, which comprises the entire membership of the 47-member Human Rights Council, to present efforts they have made in fulfilling their human rights obligations and commitments, in particular since their last UPR review, assessing both positive developments and identifying challenges. The timetable of State reviews and adoption and distribution of reports can be found below, as well as at the following link:
The twenty-ninth session of the UPR Working Group marks the third session of the third UPR cycle. During the third UPR cycle, States are again expected to spell out steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed during their previous reviews, in particular those which enjoyed their support, as well as present developments that occurred since the previous review, and share challenges in their follow-up action. The reports serving as the basis for these reviews can be found at the following link:
During the session, an interactive dialogue between the country under review and the Working Group takes place. Each country review lasts three and one-half hours, and an additional half hour for each country will be devoted to the adoption of the recommendations put forward by their peers. The review for each State is facilitated by groups of three Council members from different regional groups, or troikas, who act as rapporteurs.
The final outcome of the twenty-ninth session will be adopted by the plenary of the Human Rights Council at its thirty-eighth regular session taking place in June 2018.
About the Universal Periodic Review
General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, which created the Human Rights Council, mandated the Council 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. Subsequently, the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was established through the adoption by the Council of its “institution-building package” – HRC resolution 5/1 – on 18 June 2007, one year after its first meeting.
The UPR Working Group consequently held its inaugural session in April 2008 for the first group of States, the order for which was decided through the drawing of lots. With the holding of this first session the first cycle took off through which all 193 United Nations Member States have had their human rights records reviewed (April 2008 to October 2011).
Subsequently, all 193 States underwent a follow-up review during the second UPR cycle (January 2012 to November 2016). With the holding of the 27th session of the UPR Working Group in May 2017, the third cycle commenced. The calendar of State reviews for the third cycle can be found at the following link: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/UPR/Calendar3rdCycle.doc
Per Human Rights Council resolution 16/21 adopted on 25 March 2011 and decision 17/119 pertaining to the review of the Council, the second and subsequent cycles of the UPR should focus on, inter alia, the implementation of the accepted recommendations and the developments of the human rights situation in the State under review.
In his report of 28 July 2017, the United Nations Secretary-General emphasized the need to “strengthen the relevance, precision and impact of the Council’s recommendations” during the third UPR cycle “by providing better support to Member States in implementation, stronger collaboration with United Nations country teams and the establishment of national mechanisms for human rights reporting and follow-up to link the universal periodic review to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals” (para 98).
In his subsequent report of 21 August 2017, the Secretary-General reiterated these points while encouraging enhanced engagement with Member States in providing country-specific technical assistance and capacity-building efforts in meeting UPR obligations. For his part, the High Commissioner for Human Rights sends letters to States upon the adoption of their third cycle reviews encouraging their continued engagement in achieving concrete results on the recommendations they have supported.
UPR Reporting and Objectives
In accordance with the Council’s “institution-building package”, and as reinforced by the outcome of the Council’s review adopted in March 2011, the three documents on which State reviews should be based are information prepared by the State concerned, which could be presented either orally or in writing; information contained in the reports of treaty bodies and Special Procedures, to be compiled in a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and information provided by other relevant stakeholders to the UPR including non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, academic institutions and research institutes, regional organizations, as well as civil society representatives, also to be summarized by OHCHR in a separate document.
Per the adopted institution-building package, the objectives of the Universal Periodic Review are:
the improvement of the human rights situation on the ground; fulfilment of the State’s human rights obligations and commitments, and assessment of positive developments and challenges faced by the State; the enhancement of the State’s capacity and of technical assistance, in consultation with, and with the consent of, the State concerned; the sharing of best practice among States and other stakeholders; support for cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights; and, the encouragement of full cooperation and engagement with the Council, other human rights bodies and OHCHR.
Timetable for the Universal Periodic Review Working Group 29th Session:
(Contains links to documentation page for each State)
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Barbados
15h00 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on France, Tonga, Romania, Mali, Botswana and the Bahamas
Monday, 22 January
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Israel
16h30 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Burundi, Luxembourg and Barbados
Wednesday, 24 January
Thursday, 25 January
16h30 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Montenegro, United Arab Emirates and Israel
Friday, 26 January
17h00 to 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Liechtenstein and Serbia
Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the Universal Periodic Review webpage on the OHCHR website: www.ohchr.org/hrc/upr
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process, which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.
The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries, and to fulfil their human rights obligations.
As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country, when their human rights situations are assessed. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries, and address human rights violations wherever they occur. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists.