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The Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

One of the instruments that indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities can use to draw attention to discrimination and abuse, is the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism which aims to assess whether UN member states live up to their human rights obligations. ´

The UPR Committee can make concrete recommendations to states on how to correct serious deficiencies or violations. The recommendations of the UPR Committee is an important tool for civil society to hold states accountable. The international focus can furthermore help create space for democratic dialogue locally.

The UPR involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. 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 UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council itself. It is a cooperative process which, by 2011, has reviewed the human rights records of every country. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists. The UPR is one of the key elements of the new Council, which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this new mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.

The reviews are conducted by the UPR Working Group, which consists of the 47 members of the Council; however any UN Member State can take part in the discussion/dialogue with the reviewed States. Each State review is assisted by groups of three States, known as “troikas”, who serve as rapporteurs. The selection of the troikas for each State review is done through a drawing of lots prior for each Working Group session.