Universal Periodic Review

A nationally owned human rights agenda


Started in 2008, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is the only human rights mechanism that seeks to assess and improve human rights situation in all United Nations member states through recommendations from a peer review. Countries provide recommendations to each other. The UPR is unique because of its potential to bring sustainable improvements to people’s lives, particularly to the disadvantaged and marginalized.

In Europe and the CIS, all countries participated in the first UPR cycle(pdf) (2008-2011) and some of them have already taken part in the ongoing second round(pdf) (2012-2016).

Although 81 percent of recommendations from the first cycle were accepted by the states in the region, for many countries the UPR merely represents a cyclical international obligation, with only modest progress made in implementing the agreed UPR Recommendations.

Implementing the recommendations is the most critical phase of the whole process. Its success will determine the efficiency and ultimate credibility of the mechanism and demonstrate States’ engagement in the promotion and strengthening of human rights.

What we do

To make the UPR process more accountable and effective, UNDP supports national partners in the region to implement recommendations for improving human rights in their country. This includes:

  • Integrating UPR recommendations into nationally owned development agendas

  • Gathering, analyzing, and sharing the latest knowledge on human rights and development

  • Supporting national human rights institutions to implement UPR recommendations

  • Engaging civil society organizations to report and monitor human rights activities, as well as national and sectoral assessments

  • Partnering with other United Nations agencies on joint programmes for national partners

Some results so far

In 2012 and 2013 UNDP supported 14 countries in the region to implement human rights recommendations that came out of the UPR: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Moldova, Serbia, fYR Macedonia and Ukraine in 2012 and Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Serbia in 2013. This includes:

fYR Macedonia did an analysis of the legal framework and actual practices(pdf) when it comes to employment of people with disabilities. It’s the foundation for confronting the prevailing stigma that people with disabilities face every day, with the overall aim of improving their employment opportunities.

Serbia reached out to citizens online, asking them to 'Rate Your Rights' and provide their perspective on the human rights situation in the country. Between June and December 2012, the portal received over 2,000 comments reflecting citizens views on Serbia’s achievements under the UPR.

Ukraine also introduced online crowdsourcing to get citizens to share feedback on the human rights situation in the country - and organized a Model UPR session based on the Model UN format, to educate university students about the process. This was followed by a training session about the UPR for 20 journalists.

>> See what other countries did in this short UPR follow-up summary (pdf).

Call to action

  1. Policy makers need to review national human rights situations, identify priorities, define objectives, and take primary responsibility to implement the UPR recommendations. This also includes engaging citizens to get their feedback, and promoting youth involvement.

  2. National human rights institutions need to strengthen the national human rights monitoring mechanism, participate actively in preparing detailed stakeholder reports, and partner effectively with civil society to ensure the submission of a wide range of stakeholder reports.

  3. Citizens need to play a more active role and participate in existing projects and activities (like HuRiLab) to support continuous collective efforts of human rights advocacy in leveraging positive changes in the community.

>> Watch a learning hour on the Universal Periodic Review

>> Demystifying the Universal Periodic Review