Children's Rights and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Summary: An introduction to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

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Children's Rights and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Please note: The UPR is an open and public process which does NOT allow for submission of confidential information by NGOs. NGOs are therefore encouraged to make an assessment of possible risks before deciding to submit any information.

What is the UPR?

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a mechanism under which the Human Rights Council examines the human rights situation in every Member State of the UN. Each State will be examined once every four and a half years.

How does it work?

The UPR is an inter-governmental process whereby the human rights records of a given country is reviewed by other countries (and not by a group of independent experts like the Committee on the Rights of the Child).

The Council reviews the human rights records of States based on the following evidence:

  • Information provided by the State under review. This can be presented written or orally, provided that in written form it does not exceed 20 pages.
  • A compilation of relevant information from the UN human rights system, including reports of treaty bodies and Special Procedures. This document is limited to 10 pages.
  • A summary of information provided by other relevant stakeholders, including NGOs and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). This summary must not exceed 10 pages.

The UPR is conducted in one working group composed of all 47 member States of the Human Rights Council. The working group will allocate three hours to the consideration of each State, and half an hour to the adoption of a report on that State.

The report may include conclusions, recommendations, and voluntary commitments made by the State. The reports are then adopted by the plenary of the Human Rights Council. NGOs may attend the review by the working group, but it is unlikely that they will be allowed to participate in the dialogue. However, NGOs are able to make general comments before the adoption of reports by the plenary of the Human Rights Council.

Outcome reports include two sets of recommendations: the ones that enjoy the support of the State reviewed, and those which do not (accompanied by comments from the State concerned)

A group of three rapporteurs, (called a Troika*) are selected by drawing lots among the members of the Council. They will facilitate each review, including the preparation of the report of the working group. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) provides the necessary assistance and expertise to the rapporteurs. (Institution Building package 5/1 paragraph 18(d))

*A 'troika' simply means a group of three.

About Troikas:

  • They are made up of representatives of member States
  • They are made up of member State representatives from different regional groups
  • There are 48 different troikas each year – one for every State under review
  • While the majority of member States have representatives on three (3) Troikas, due to numbers, three have representatives on four Troikas.

Concerns about Troikas:

During the 6th session, delegates pointed out some important shortcomings of the model included in the institution-building package:

  • It was possible to replace a rapporteur at the request of the country under review.
  • Members of a Troika can refuse to participate in a particular review process.

How can child rights NGOs and advocates get involved?

The UPR represents an opportunity for NGOs to ensure children's rights are central to the work of the Human Rights Council. They can do this:

By consulting with the State as it prepares information

Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1 encourages States to prepare the information they provide under the UPR through a broad consultation process at the national level with all relevant stakeholders.

The State may choose to deliver the information orally or in writing. Both State reports (where they exist) and the OHCHR summaries of other information must be received by the Secretariat six weeks before the UPR.

By preparing and submitting information themselves

In addition to contributing to the preparation of State information, NGOs can submit their own information and reports to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). NGOs do not have to be ECOSOC accredited, but the OHCHR would preferably like information to be submitted in conjunction with ECOSOC accredited NGOs.

The OHCHR will compile information received from NGOs, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and other stakeholders into a 10-page summary. It is therefore important that NGOs and NHRIs clearly identify the principle issues they want the Human Rights Council to raise with States. This can be done either by preparing short submissions specifically for the UPR, or by providing short summaries with the original reports included in an annex.

Guidelines for submissions

The OHCHR Civil Society Unit has produced detailed guidelines for the preparation and submission of information by relevant stakeholders to the Universal Periodic Review. They can be found here:

In summary, the OHCHR's guidelines are as follows:

  • Page Limit: NGOs are strongly encouraged to limit their submissions to a 5-page document, to which a more detailed and factual report may be attached for reference.
  • Focus: The document should highlight the main issues of concern and suggest priorities. Facts and details to support the priorities, as well as possible recommendations to be made to the country under review, may be annexed for reference to the submission.
  • Time Period: The information provided should only cover the previous four (4 1/2) years, because of the UPR's four-and-a-half year periodicity.
  • Deadline: Information for submission and possible inclusion in the OHCHR's summary should be emailed to [email protected]. Consult the CRIN website ( or sign up to CRIN's Human Rights Council CRINMAILs ( for deadlines.
  • Language: The submissions must be written in any official UN language, although ideally English, French or Spanish.

The OHCHR has emphasised that the 5-page document is extremely important and should clearly list all the issues that NGOs want to raise. The longer document that can be attached will not receive as much importance. Also, there is a sense that the OHCHR is expecting, and really values, information from NGOs. In fact, this information will largely shape/lead the whole report.

Follow-up to the Review

The working group adopts a report, made up of two sets of recommendations: the ones that enjoy the support of the State reviewed and those which do not. The final outcome will in turn be adopted by the plenary of the Council, and contain a summary of the process, conclusions and/or recommendations, and the voluntary commitments of the State concerned.

NGOs can be directly involved in the follow-up to the Review. They can help the State to address the recommendations, and collaborate with national human rights organisations, such as NHRIs, Parliament, civil society, academia, media, etc. It is expected to be harder to advocate for the implementation of those recommendations that do not have State support.

In particular, child rights NGOs can make sure children are an integral part of the national agenda following the Review.

They can distribute the Review report nationally, draw attention to child rights issues and draw up an action plan or strategy to help with implementation. They can also monitor the implementation of the UPR recommendations

NGOs are encouraged to distribute these guidelines and raise awareness of child rights in the UPR.

Since follow-up to recommendations made by treaty bodies, including the Committee on the Rights of the Child (and the Commission for Human Rights, the body replaced by the Human Rights Council), can be slow and inadequate, it is once again crucial that children's rights NGOs play their part in the implementation process.

Further information

Read the full Institution Building Package for the UPR here

Find the full guidelines for NGO submissions, produced by the OHCHR Civil Society Unit, here

Other resources

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) position paper on the UPR (March 2007)

ISHR Human Rights Council daily updates:

OHCHR page on the Universal Periodic Review:

Conference of NGOs in consultative relationship with the UN (CONGO): News by session and by issue:

UN FAQs on the Human Rights Council:


UN Contacts:

  • OHCHR Civil Society Unit:

Ms. Laura Dolci-Kanaan
NGO Liaison Officer
Tel. +41 22 917 9656
Fax. +41 22 917 9004
E -mail : [email protected]

NGO Contacts:

The Working Group of the NGO Group for the CRC for the Human Rights Council (of which CRIN are a part), comprises a group of children's rights focused organisations collaborating on all areas of the Council's work, including the UPR.

For more information, contact the co-conveners of teh NGOWG

Alan Kikuchi-White, Geneva Representative
SOS-Kinderdorf International
Email: [email protected]

Or Veronica Yates, CRIN
Email: [email protected]



    Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.