This note aims at informing NHRIs 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.
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:
Resolution 5/1 allows for an active engagement of NHRIs 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.
According to Resolution 5/1, the documents on which the review would be based are:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 NHRIs.
The documents prepared by OHCHR shall follow the structure of the General Guidelines (http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/6/L.24) regarding information prepared by the State concerned, which were adopted by the HRC at its 6th session.
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 following countries will be reviewed during the 11th session that will take place in from 02 to 13 May 2011: Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Hungary and Latvia.
The following countries will be reviewed during the 12th session that will take place in from 03 to 14 October 2011: Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Antigua and Barbuda, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Moldova and Haiti.
NHRIs may wish to access the following links for an overview of the upcoming countries under the UPR sessions:
5. Technical Guidelines
The deadlines for the submission of information by NHRIs for inclusion in the stakeholder report of countries to be reviewed during the 12th session of the UPR Working Group are as follows:
- 14 March 2011 for: Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, United Republic Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand.
- 21 March 2011 for: Timor Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Antigua and Barbuda, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Moldova and Haiti.
Where to submit?
NHRIs, 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.
Please avoid sending information to other OHCHR electronic addresses. Please note (a) the OHCHR secretariat will confirm electronically receipt of your message and submission; and (b) while stakeholders are not encouraged to fax or mail a hardcopy of their submission to the OHCHR secretariat, they may in the case of technical difficulties with electronic mail fax their submission to +41 22 917 90 11.
Format of the submission
Each electronic submission and relevant e-mail message should concern one country only. In the e-mail message accompanying the submitted documents kindly include:
(a) In the title of the e-mail message: the name of the (main) stakeholder/NGO/NHRI submitting the contribution, the kind of contribution (individual and/or joint), the name of the reviewed country and indicate the month and year of relevant UPR session, e.g., "National Human Rights Commission of [country] - UPR submission - [Country] - January, May or October 2011";
(b) In the text of the e-mail message accompanying the submission, kindly indicate the contact details of the reference person in your organization / institution;
(c) A paragraph describing the main activities of the submitting organization/coalition, as well as date of establishment, especially for those organizations which interrelate for the first time with the United Nations, would be also welcomed.
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.
Content of the written submission
- Submissions should follow the structure of the General Guidelines for the preparation of information under the UPR:
- Stakeholders' submissions should not be longer than five pages , to which a more detailed and factual report maybe attached (the page limit for submissions is 10 pages when submitted by large coalitions of stakeholders );
- Submissions should cover a maximum of a 4 year-time period
- Submission documents should be saved as a Word document only, i.e. not as PDF file;
- Written contributions should be submitted in United Nations official languages only, preferably in English, French or Spanish;
- Kindly submit the final version of your text as revised versions might be difficult to be accepted at a later stage;
- Paragraphs and pages of each submission should be numbered;
- Submissions may include an introduction paragraph summarizing the main points contained therein;
- As a way of introduction, stakeholders are also encouraged to indicate key words in relation to their submission (e.g., domestic violence); and
- Stakeholders should refrain from annexing reports from other organizations;
Please note also:
(a) Submissions substantially in excess of the agreed page and/or time limit will not be considered;
(b) Submissions containing language manifestly abusive (i.e., incitement to violence, inherently racial language, etc.) will not be considered.
6. Contact information
The OHCHR National Institutions and Regional Mechanisms Section stands ready to assist National Human Rights Institutions and answer their queries and may be contacted at:
Ms. Citlalin Castaneda
Tel: +41 22 928 9469
Mr. Vladlen Stefanov
Chief, National Institutions and Regional Mechanisms Section