How the UPR works

The Universal Periodic Review was established by the UN Human Rights Council, to improve the human rights situation on the ground in each of the 192 UN Member States.

Every four and a half years, the human rights situation in all UN Member States is examined by other states. The UK is scheduled to be reviewed in May 2012.

Although the UPR is a state led process and takes place in Geneva, it is first and foremost a national process, an opportunity to start a dialogue on human rights.

This UK’s 'human rights examination' is an opportunity to:

  1. Take stock of the state of the nation of human rights in the country;
  2. Hold the government to account on their human rights record;
  3. Encourage organisations to mobilise around human rights issues, mainstream human rights language and practice in their work, and monitor government’s performance on human rights.

The UPR process comprises of:

A pre examination phase where:

  • The Government compiles a national report and consults NHRI and voluntary sector organisations on the report (October 2011 to March 2012)
  • The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) compiles reports based on the information it receives from the NHRI and civil society organisations (information must be submitted to the OHCHR on  21 November  2011).

An examination phase where:

  • A Working Group of UN States review the State report and information submitted by the OHCHR and formulates recommendations to the State (21 to 25 May 2012)
  • During the examination a government delegation will be asked questions and have an opportunity to make voluntary pledges to advance human rights (21 to 25 May 2012).

A post examination phase where:

  • Recommendations are adopted by the Human Rights Council (September / October 2012)
  • The NHRI and civil society organisations will have the opportunity to speak at the HRC plenary to offer a perspective on the human rights situation on the ground (September / October 2012)
  • The government raises awareness on recommendations and plans implementation (October to November 2012);
  • The NHRI and voluntary sector organisations monitor State progress in implementing recommendations (2012 to 2016);
  • The government can submit a mid-term review of the implementation of recommendations (2014).

Further information

A number of organisations have developed web resources and detailed manuals on the UPR, its significance and impact.


Last Updated: 28 Aug 2014