Universal Periodic Review

The UPR is a UN review mechanism of the overall human rights situation of all UN Member States, by all UN Member States. Each State is reviewed every 4.5 years according to a set calendar. Although NGOs cannot participate in the review directly, they can get involved in a variety of ways to make sure that key child rights concerns are raised during the discussions and included in any resulting recommendations.

What is the Universal Periodic Review?

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a UN review mechanism of the overall human rights situation in all UN Member States. The review is carried out by all UN member States, so it is a peer review mechanism. Each State’s UPR examination takes place every 4.5 years and takes the form of an interactive dialogue lasting 3.5 hours. Child rights issues are included in the UPR.

Can child rights NGOs get involved in the UPR?

NGOs can influence the UPR in the following ways, even if they cannot participate directly in the actual dialogue as it is between States:

  • Contribute to consultations, which the State under Review carries out when preparing its report, to raise child rights concerns and ensure these issues are included in the State’s report
  • Submit written reports and recommendations to make sure that their issues of concern will be included in the OHCHR Summary of Stakeholders’ Information and the review
  • Carry out advocacy and lobbying activities before the review to persuade other States to present particular recommendations during the review
  • Lobby the State under Review to accept UPR recommendations.

Why advocate for child rights in UPR?

As NGOs cannot speak during the interactive dialogue, NGOs’ concerns and recommendations have to be voiced by States participating in the review. Advocacy is essential for the following reasons:
To ensure that NGOs’ key child rights issues are raised in the report prepared by the State under Review (SuR) and during the UPR

SuRs are encouraged to engage in broad national consultations when preparing their reports, including civil society. This is an opportunity for child rights NGOs to raise key child rights concerns as a contribution to the State’s report.
States participating in the review may pick up issues and recommendations that NGOs have included in their written submissions, especially those included in the OHCHR Summary of Stakeholders’ Information. However, given the high number of NGO submissions on a wide range of human rights issues, States are unable to include all the issues and this includes key child right issues.
To help States raise the most relevant child rights issues

State representatives who draft questions and recommendations are not child rights experts and may not, therefore, be in a position to assess which child rights issues are a priority.NGOs should target specific States to advocate for key recommendations to advance child rights in the SuR. This is especially important when child rights issues are inadequately covered in the SuR’s report, for example because no progress has been made or these issues are not considered a priority by the State. NGO advocacy therefore bridges the gap between what States report and the situation on the ground.
To reinforce key recommendations of other human rights bodies.

    • As mentioned above, the OHCHR compiles a summary of UN information which includes:

States do not have time to refer to all of these during the dialogue and may therefore omit key child rights recommendations produced by other human rights bodies. Through advocacy, NGOs can draw attention to such recommendations, encouraging States to mention them in their recommendations. This helps reinforce the wider body of international recommendations on child rights.

To get more recommendations accepted by the SuR.

After its examination, the SuR has a few months to decide whether it will accept or simply note recommendations before the adoption of the outcome report at a HRC session. The SuR may not officially reject UPR recommendations but must indicate whether each recommendation “enjoys the State’s support” (or accepted), or whether it is “noted” (not accepted). NGOs can use this time to lobby their State to accept key recommendations. This advocacy is directed not only at the SuR but also at national actors who support NGOs and can influence the decision-making process.

How have child rights been addressed in previous UPRs?

Detailed information about how child rights have been addressed in State, UN and NGO reports and in recommendations can be found on the websites of:

What is the difference between the UPR and CRC reporting cycles?

The UPR is more frequent and the dates more predictable than the reporting cycle of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its Optional Protocols (OPs). The schedule for the UPR is set in advance (i.e. before the start of each review cycle) by the HRC and is not dependent on the submission of the State’s report. As a result, States cannot delay the review by neglecting to submit their report.
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NGOs can therefore plan their UPR work a long time in advance. States and NGOs can also refer to the UPR of a specific country at each HRC session (held regularly in March, June and September).
The CRC reporting process covers child rights in depth and the review of the State is conducted by a Committee of experts rather than States, unlike the UPR.
Both processes complement each other and should be used to advocate for child rights at international level.
As well as submitting scheduled UPR reports, some States also submit mid-term reports about their implementation of UPR recommendations they have accepted.

What is the relationship between the UPR recommendations and the Committee’s Concluding Observations?

The UPR does not stand alone as a mechanism within the UN. It is based on the work of the treaty bodies and special procedures and can therefore be used to follow-up their Concluding Observations or recommendations on child rights.
The UPR produces additional recommendations which reflect national level developments since the State’s last review by the Committee. If these recommendations relate to child rights, they can be followed up by the Committee. Unlike the Committee’s Concluding Observations, when a State has formally accepted UPR recommendations, it has committed to implement them before its next review when it will have to report on the measures it has undertaken to implement the accepted recommendations. If a State has not clearly indicated whether it has accepted or simply noted UPR recommendations, it must still include information about the measures it has taken to implement them in its next UPR report.

How does Child Rights Connect help NGOs with UPRs?

Child Rights Connect helps NGOs who wish to take part in UPRs by:

      • Providing personalised technical guidance on NGOs’ submissions
      • Publishing practical tools (e.g. factsheets)
      • Coordinating a platform of NGOs who report on child rights
      • Preparing advocacy briefs and advocating for key issues

Find out more

Child Rights Connect has developed a series of fact sheets for child rights NGOs to take part in the UPR process.
UPR Fact sheet 1: The Universal Periodic Review (2011)

This provides information on how:

      • The UPR mechanism functions
      • It differs from the CRC reporting mechanism
      • NGOs can influence the process and bring key child rights issues to the fore.

Available to download in English | Español | Français.

UPR Fact sheet 2: NGO Written Submission for the UPR (2011)
This provides information about how to prepare and submit a written report under UPR. It details how best to present child rights issues in a way that will increase the likelihood of them being included in the OHCHR summary of stakeholders’ information.
Available to download in English | Español | Français
Child Rights Connect and UPR Info are currently preparing Fact sheets 3 and 4 about NGO Advocacy and follow-up. They will be available shortly.
Other useful links

    • The CRIN website has detailed information about how child rights have been addressed in State, UN and NGO reports and in recommendations including:
  • More information on the UPR process and how to get involved is available on the UPR Info website.