Universal Periodic Review
Universal Periodic Review
Every four to five years, Member States of the United Nations assess each other's progress on human rights through the Human Rights Council. The Council then makes a series of recommendations to the government of the country being assessed. This is called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
The UPR is a way of holding countries to account for their compliance with international human rights laws and standards. Established in 2008, every one of the 193 UN Member States is reviewed once every four to five years.
The UPR means that Scotland and the UK's performance on human rights is examined against the requirements of international human rights treaties and commitments. The UK was one of the first States to be reviewed in 2008. It was reviewed again in 2012, and the third Universal Periodic Review took place on 4th May 2017.
In 2107, the troika of states overseeing the UPR for the UK have now published the final report of the Working Group.
Human Rights Report Card 2021
The next review of the United Kingdom is due to take place in October 2022. The Commission is currently engaging with civil society organisations and stakeholders to create Scotland's Human Rights Report Card.
The Review Process
When a state is reviewed, 3 main documents are considered in relation to human rights situation of the ‘State Under Review’:
- A National Report written by the State Under Review. The report should be written following a national consultation with civil society.
- A compilation of UN Information from Treaty Bodies (the committees which monitor treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child), Special Procedures (like independent Special Rapporteurs) and other UN agencies
- A summary of other stakeholder submissions from National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) such as the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, third sector/Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
The Commission's role in the UPR
As Scotland's national human rights institution the Scottish Human Rights Commission has a distinct role in the review process. We contribute evidence, support civil society organisations to take part in the process, and have speaking rights at the Human Rights Council.
We will provide information to civil society organisations to support them to participate in the process through our website and social media pages.
Read a joint statement by our Chair and the Chairs of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, in advance of the review.
You can also read the previous recommendations ("Concluding Observations") resulting from the UK's previous UPR in 2012.
The role of Civil Society Organisations
There are many opportunities for civil society/third sector organisations (CSOs) to take part and influence the UPR process.
Before the Review, CSOs can:
- Participate in any national consultations held by the UK or Scottish Governments.
- Research, develop and collate relevant information about the human rights situation in the country in a ‘shadow report’ which can be sent to the UN. For more information on this, please see Section 4
- Lobby members of the group which is in charge of overseeing the UK’s UPR review, known as the ‘working group.’
During the Review, CSOs can:
- Attend the Review event at the UN (but not take the floor)
- Hold a side event to tell other countries about the human rights issues affecting the people they work with.
- Organise a screening of the webcast in their home country.
- Prepare a press statement and raise awareness of the process through media and social media.
After the Review CSOs can:
- Take the floor at the Human Rights Council during the adoption of the report - this is usually a few months after the Review itself
- Monitor and participate in the implementation of the recommendations.
UPR 2017 - Briefing Papers
The Commission produced seven briefing papers on key issues for the UPR in 2017.
Children's rights - UNCRC implementation, poverty, physical punishment, age of criminal responsibility and education
PDF version ; accessible Word version ; recommendations only (PDF) ; recommendations only (JPG)
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