Q&A on the modalities of the UPR process
The ultimate goal of the UPR is the improvement of the human rights situation in every country. To achieve this, the UPR assesses the human rights records of UN Member States. The UPR also aims at providing technical assistance to States and sharing best practices in the field of human rights among States and other stakeholders.
The reviews are conducted at the United Nations (UN) in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland and take place within a Working Group. Each review lasts 3 hours and 15 minutes. Three Working Group sessions take place every year to review a maximum of fourteen States.
The Working Group is composed of the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). However, any of the UN Member and observer States can take part in this Interactive Dialogue, chaired by the President of the HRC or, when necessary, by Vice-Presidents.
- The President or Vice-President of the HRC opens the Working group.
- The State under review (SuR) delegation has 70 minutes to present its National Report and reply to the questions advanced. It can divide this time into one or several interventions. Questions must be submitted in writing by recommending States, from 10 days to 24 hours before the review.
- The remaining 125 minutes are allocated to the interactive dialogue during which States take the floor to make their recommendations and comments.
- The Working Group usually closes with the SuR offering its concluding remarks.
Other relevant stakeholders, such as CSOs, NHRIs, and UN agencies, can attend the Working Group but they cannot take the floor.
The review shall assess to what extent States respect their human rights obligations contained in:
- The Charter of the United Nations;
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- Human Rights instruments to which the State is party (human rights treaties ratified by the State concerned);
- Voluntary pledges and commitments made by the State (including those undertaken when presenting the candidature for election to the HRC); and
- Applicable international humanitarian law.
To know which issues were the most frequently raised in UPR recommendations to your country, check our database of recommendations.
For each UPR Working Group, there is a troika. Each troika consists of three States, also members of the HRC. They are selected by lot from the different Regional Groups.
The specific role of the troika is further detailed in the President's statement of 9 April 2008:
- Before the review: The troika receives the written questions raised by States and relays them to the SuR.
- During the interactive dialogue: Troika members do not have a specific role during the interactive dialogue. However, they can take the floor as any delegation, ask questions and make recommendations.
The troika is in charge of preparing the report of the Working Group, which contains a full account of the proceedings, with the involvement of the SuR and assistance of the OHCHR Secretariat. One of the troika members is then in charge of introducing the report before its adoption at the Working Group.
The 3.15 hour review results in a report prepared by the troika. The report contains the summary of the interactive dialogue, the initial responses of the SuR to the questions and recommendations, and the full list of recommendations made by the recommending States.
After the review, there are two different Adoptions. The first one takes place during the Working Group session, two days after the review. The report is distributed and subsequently adopted. The Adoption lasts 30 minutes and is mainly procedural. It aims at adopting the recommendations section of the draft UPR report. This means that the wording of UPR recommendations cannot be changed after this adoption.
Once the report has been adopted during the Working Group session, the SuR has several months to formulate its responses to all recommendations, which it compiles in a document called “Addendum”. The final report of the Working Group is then adopted by consensus at a plenary session of the HRC. One hour is given for the Adoption of the report during the Human Rights Council and is divided as follows:
- 20 minutes - The SuR presents its position on recommendations and replies to questions that were not sufficiently addressed during the review. If a Status A National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) or Ombudsman from the SuR wishes to take the floor, it can do so right after the SuR delegation.
- 20 minutes - States and other agencies, for example UN departments, can take the floor and express their opinion on the outcome of the review.
- 20 minutes – CSOs, Human Rights Defenders, and NHRIs with ECOSOC status can take the floor.
Adoption of the Working Group session
Takes place 2 days after the review.
The recommendations' section is adopted.
Recommending States cannot change the wording of their recommendations.
Other sections of the UPR report still need to be completed.
Adoption at the regular session of the Human Rights Council
Takes place approx. 5 months after the review.
The fully completed report is adopted.
The Addendum containing the SuR's responses to all recommendations (supported/noted) is adopted.
The period between two reviews is known as the Implementation Phase. It is during this period that the State under review (SuR) is supposed to implement the recommendations received. Even though the SuR holds the primary responsibility to implement UPR recommendations, other stakeholders participate in the implementation efforts.
The follow-up is the most important phase of the UPR process as it serves the following UPR goal: "the improvement of the human rights situation on the ground." The success of this phase will also determine the efficiency and credibility of the mechanism and demonstrate the engagement of UN State Members in the promotion and protection of human rights.
Yes. There are numerous ways in which CSOs, HRDs, NHRIs, and others (such as media, academia, youth groups) can engage in the UPR. For example, they can:
- submit information, which will be used to review the country
- take the floor during the adoption of the report at the HRC session
- work with the SuR on the implementation of recommendations
For further information you can visit the Civil Society Compendium, in “The UPR & Me: My Guide to Participating in the UPR” (child-friendly) and our Get involved section.
The UPR is one of the three main UN human rights mechanisms together with the Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures.
All are mutually reinforcing and complementary, as they share the same objective: to improve the human rights situation in the UN Member States. For more information you can visit The UPR and other Mechanisms.