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Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

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Latest: read extracts on children from reports submitted for the first and second sessions

What is the UPR? | How will it work?| How can child rights NGOs and advocates get involved?| Follow-up to the Review | Further information


Please note: The UPR is an open and public process which does NOT allow for submission of confidential information by NGOs. NGOs are therefore encouraged to make an assessment of possible risks before deciding to submit any information.


What is the UPR?

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a new mechanism under which the Human Rights Council will examine the human rights situation in every Member State of the UN. Each State will be examined once every four years.

The UPR mechanism was set up largely due to the heavy criticisms against the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which was accused of being selective and impartial.

It is hoped the UPR will become the cornerstone of the newly created Human Rights Council. As such, it represents an excellent opportunity for making children’s rights central to the work of the Council.

During the 6th Session, the Council decided which countries will be reviewed between 2008 and 2011. It also decided the order of the countries to be reviewed in 2008.

The full list of countries selected for the first cycle of UPR (until 2011) can be found at:


How will it work?

The UPR is an inter-governmental process whereby the human rights records of a given country will be reviewed by other countries (and not by a group of independent experts like the Committee on the Rights of the Child).

It is therefore likely that the outcome of the review will avoid controversial language and will not have strong political implications.

The Council will review the human rights records of States based on the following evidence:

  • Information provided by the State under review. This can be presented written or orally, provided that in written form it does not exceed 20 pages.
  • A compilation of relevant information from the UN human rights system, including reports of treaty bodies and special rapporteurs. This document is limited to 10 pages.
  • A summary of information provided by other relevant stakeholders, including NGOs and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). This summary must not exceed 10 pages.

The UPR will be conducted in one working group composed of all 47 member States of the Human Rights Council. The working group will allocate three hours to the consideration of each State, and half an hour to the adoption of a report on that State.

The report may include conclusions, recommendations, and voluntary commitments made by the State. The reports will then be adopted by the plenary of the Human Rights Council. NGOs may attend the review by the working group, but it is unlikely that they will be allowed to participate in the dialogue. However, NGOs will be able to make general comments before the adoption of reports by the plenary of the Human Rights Council.

The outcome report will include two sets of recommendations: the ones that enjoy the support of the State reviewed, and those which do not (accompanied by comments from the State concerned)

A group of three rapporteurs, (called a Troika*) will be selected by drawing lots among the members of the Council. They will facilitate each review, including the preparation of the report of the working group. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will provide the necessary assistance and expertise to the rapporteurs. (Institution Building package 5/1 paragraph 18(d))

*A ‘troika’ simply means a group of three.

About Troikas:

  • They will be made up of representatives of member States
  • They will be made up of member State representatives from different regional groups
  • There will be 48 different troikas each year – one for every State under review
  • While the majority of member States will have representatives on three (3) Troikas, due to numbers, three will have representatives on four Troikas.

Concerns about Troikas:

During the 6th session, delegates pointed out some important shortcomings of the model included in the institution-building package:

  • It was possible to replace a rapporteur at the request of the country under review.
  • Members of a Troika can refuse to participate in a particular review process.


How can child rights NGOs and advocates get involved?

The UPR represents an opportunity for NGOs to ensure children’s rights are central to the work of the Human Rights Council. They can do this:


By consulting with the State as it prepares information

Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1 encourages States to prepare the information they will provide under the UPR through a broad consultation process at the national level with all relevant stakeholders. National child rights NGOs should therefore lobby for full involvement in the preparation of this information.

The State may choose to deliver the information orally or in writing. Both State reports (where they exist) and the OHCHR summaries of other information must be received by the Secretariat six weeks before the UPR.

NGOs will not therefore be able to address issues raised in State reports unless they are submitted early or made public at the national level prior to submission.

By preparing and submitting information themselves

In addition to contributing to the preparation of State information, NGOs can submit their own information and reports to the OHCHR. NGOs do not have to be ECOSOC accredited, but the OHCHR would preferably like information to be submitted in conjunction with ECOSOC accredited NGOs. That being said all NGOs regardless of their ECOSOC status are encouraged to speak out and submit their relevant issues and information.

It is vital to ensure that the first UPR focuses on human rights rather than procedural issues. Also, as the first sessions of the UPR will be considered as a precedents, it is essential that information on children’s rights reaches OHCHR if it is to be included in the summary. OHCHR has to guarantee inclusion of the human rights of all people, without discrimination and so country’s child rights records must be included.

Please note confidential submission from any stakeholder will not be accepted as all the sources of information will be referenced in the summary report and posted on-line. Do assess the implications and risks for your NGO before submitting any information.

The OHCHR will compile information received from NGOs, NHRIs and other stakeholders into a 10-page summary. It is therefore important that NGOs and NHRIs clearly identify the principle issues they want the Human Rights Council to raise with States. This can be done either by preparing short submissions specifically for the UPR, or by providing short summaries with the original reports included in an annex.

Guidelines for submissions

The OHCHR Civil Society Unit has produced detailed guidelines for the preparation and submission of information by relevant stakeholders to the Universal Periodic Review. They can be found here:

In summary, the OHCHR’s guidelines are as follows:

  • Page Limit: NGOs are strongly encouraged to limit their submissions to a 5-page document, to which a more detailed and factual report may be attached for reference.
  • Focus: The document should highlight the main issues of concern and suggest priorities. Facts and details to support the priorities, as well as possible recommendations to be made to the country under review, may be annexed for reference to the submission.
  • Time Period: The information provided should only cover the previous four (4) years, because of the UPR’s four-year periodicity.
  • Language: The submissions must be written in any official UN language, although ideally English, French or Spanish.

Importantly, the OHCHR has emphasised that the 5-page document is extremely important and should clearly list all the issues that NGOs want to raise. The longer document that can be attached will not receive as much importance. Also, there is a sense that the OHCHR is expecting, and really values, information from NGOs. In fact, this information will largely shape/lead the whole report.

The UPR process is obviously in its infancy. It is still unclear what the concrete outcomes and effect will actually be. At this point, for children’s rights NGOs, our aim should be to highlight all children’s rights issues and violations that exist in the countries under review. If enough NGOs speak out and reiterate the same points, the OHCHR is more likely to include these issues in their summary report.



Follow-up to the Review

The working group will adopt a report, made up of two sets of recommendations: the ones that enjoy the support of the State reviewed and those which do not. The final outcome will in turn be adopted by the plenary of the Council, and contain a summary of the process, conclusions and/or recommendations, and the voluntary commitments of the State concerned.

NGOs can be directly involved in the follow-up to the Review. They can help the State to address the recommendations, and collaborate with national human rights organisations, such as NHRIs, Parliament, civil society, academia, media, etc. It is expected to be harder to advocate for the implementation of those recommendations that do not have State support.

In particular, child rights NGOs can make sure children are an integral part of the national agenda following the Review. 

They can distribute the Review report nationally, draw attention to child rights issues and draw up an action plan or strategy to help with implementation. They can also monitor the implementation of the UPR recommendations

NGOs are encouraged to distribute these guidelines and raise awareness of child rights in the UPR.

Since follow-up to recommendations made by treaty bodies, including the Committee on the Rights of the Child (and the Commission for Human Rights, the body replaced by the Human Rights Council), can be slow and inadequate, it is once again crucial that children’s rights NGOs play their part in the implementation process.

(Prepared by: Anusha Goossens & Roberta Cecchetti, International Save the Children Alliance)


Further information

Read the full Insitution Building Package for the UPR here

Find the full guidelines for NGO submissions, produced by the OHCHR Civil Society Unit, here

Other resources

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) position paper on the UPR (March 2007)

ISHR Human Rights Council daily updates:

OHCHR page on the Universal Periodic Review:

Conference of NGOs in consultative relationship with the UN  (CONGO): News by session and by issue:

UN FAQs on the Human Rights Council:


Sign up to Human Rights Council CRINMAILs:

Visit CRIN’s information page on the Subgroup on the Human Rights Council:

Human Rights Council news page:

Information on each session of the Human Rights Council:

Media toolkit:


OHCHR Civil Society Unit:

Ms. Laura Dolci-Kanaan
NGO Liaison Officer
Tel. +41 22 917 9656
Fax. +41 22 917 9004
E -mail :

Subgroup on the Human Rights Council: Visit:

Cecile Trochu, co-Convenor 
OMCT, Email:
or Jennifer Grant, co-Convenor
Save the Children UK

Any other enquiries:
Child Rights Information Network (CRIN)
c/o Save the Children, 1 St. John's Lane, London EC1M 4AR, UK
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7012 6867; Fax: + 44 (0)20 7012 6963