UN Releases Information Note for NGOs Regarding the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism
Friday, October 26, 2007 11:38 AM

This preliminary note aims at informing NGOs and providing them with some guidance on the way they may contribute to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the new review mechanism established by the Human Rights Council in Resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007. Further suggested guidelines on NGO participation in the UPR will be provided by the OHCHR Civil Society Unit.

General Assembly Resolution 60/251, which created the Human Rights Council, decided that the Council shall “undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment 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; the review shall be a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialogue, with the full involvement of the country concerned and with consideration given to its capacity-building needs; such a mechanism shall complement and not duplicate the work of treaty bodies (…)”. (article 5 (e))

The basis of the review, its principles and objectives, its process and modalities, as well as the outcome of the review are outlined in Resolution 5/1, adopted by the HRC on 18 June 2007, and contained in the Report of the fifth regular session (the so-called ‘institution-building package') available in all six UN languages at the following link: http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/

Resolution 5/1 allows for an active engagement of NGOs in the UPR mechanism. The UPR shall “ensure the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006 and Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31 of 25 July 1996, as well as any decisions that the Council may take in this regard” . (Paragraph 3 (m))

1. Objectives of the UPR

The objectives of the review are: (a) The improvement of the human rights situation on the ground; (b) The fulfillment of the State's human rights obligations and commitments and assessment of positive developments and challenges faced by the State; (c) The enhancement of the State's capacity and of technical assistance, in consultation with, and with the consent of, the State concerned; (d) The sharing of best practice among States and other stakeholders; (e) Support for cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights; (f) The encouragement of full cooperation and engagement with the Council, other human rights bodies and OHCHR.

2. Basis

According to Resolution 5/1, the documents on which the review would be based are:

  1. Information prepared by the State concerned, which can take the form of a national report, on the basis of General Guidelines adopted by the HRC at its 6th session, and any other information considered relevant by the State concerned, which could be presented either orally or in written, provided that the written presentation summarizing the information will not exceed 20 pages.
  2. Additionally a compilation prepared by OHCHR of the information contained in the reports of treaty bodies, special procedures, including observations and comments by the State concerned, and other relevant official UN documents, which shall not exceed 10 pages.
  3. Additional, credible and reliable information provided by other relevant stakeholders to the UPR which should also be taken into consideration by the Council in the review. OHCHR will prepare a summary of such information which shall not exceed 10 pages. Other relevant stakeholders include NGOs.

The documents prepared by OHCHR shall follow the structure of the General Guidelines regarding information prepared by the State concerned, which were adopted by the HRC at its 6th session.

3. Process

The UPR review will be conducted in one working group composed of the 47 member States of the HRC, the outcome of which will be a report consisting of a summary of the proceedings, conclusions and/or recommendations, and the voluntary commitments of the State Concerned.

Kindly note that, according to Resolution 5/1:

  • States are encouraged to prepare the information they submit “through a broad consultation process at the national level with all relevant stakeholders” (para. 15(a)); 
  •  “Additional, credible and reliable information provided by other relevant stakeholders to the universal periodic review” will be summarized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in a summary which shall not exceed 10 pages (para. 15(c ));
  • Other relevant stakeholders may attend the review in the working group (para. 18 (c ));
  • Before the adoption of the outcome by the plenary of the Council, the State concerned should be offered the opportunity to present replies to questions or issues; Other relevant stakeholders will have the opportunity to make general comments before the adoption of the outcome by the plenary (para. 29 and 31)
  • The outcome of the universal periodic review, as a cooperative mechanism, should be implemented primarily by the State concerned and, as appropriate, by other relevant stakeholders (para. 33).

4. Upcoming UPR sessions

The first session of the UPR working group is scheduled to take place from 7-18 April 2008, the second session from 5-16 May 2008, and the third session from 1 to 12 December 2008.

NGOs may wish to access the following links for an overview of the upcoming countries under the UPR sessions:

•  Overview of States to be reviewed from 2008 to 2011
•  States to be reviewed during the 1st session, in order of review
•  States to be reviewed during the 2nd session, in order of review
•  States to be reviewed during the 3rd session, in order of review

5. NGOs submissions for OHCHR's summary of stakeholders' information

NGOs, wishing to submit information for consideration and possible inclusion by OHCHR in the summary of stakeholders' information, may send their contribution to UPRsubmissions@ohchr.org

NGOs are strongly encouraged to limit their submission to a 5-page document, to which a more detailed and factual report may be attached for reference.

The tentative deadline for submissions by NGOs for the first UPR session (scheduled from 7 to 18 April 2008) is 20 November 2007.

Please note that the summary of other stakeholders' input prepared by OHCHR will reference the list of relevant sources, which will be made available on-line.

6. Contact information

OHCHR Civil Society Unit
Ms. Laura Dolci-Kanaan
NGO Liaison Officer
Tel. +41 22 917 9656
Fax. +41 22 917 9004
e-mail: civilsocietyunit@ohchr.org

Published in: Information Note for NGOs Regarding the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism (as of 16 October 2007), UN Human Rights Council, last visited 26 October 2007.