The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a new mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council. It is a review process of the human rights record of all 192 UN member states once every four years. It is a state-driven process, i.e. that states are evaluated by other states, but under the auspices of the Human Rights Council. Every UN member state is required to declare what actions have been taken to improve the human rights situation in the country and to fulfil the obligations entered into by ratifying human rights treaties. In assessing the specific human rights situations, the UPR has been designed to ensure equal treatment for every country.
The UPR mechanism was created through the same resolution 60/251 of the UN General Assembly of 15 March 2006, which also established the Human Rights Council. By 2011, the first cycle of UPR review will be completed for all UN member states.
Reviews are based on information provided by the state under review, which generally takes the form of a “national report” of a specified format. In addition, the review takes into account, also in specified formats, information provided by the independent human rights experts and groups of the UN, known as the Special Procedures, by the human rights treaty bodies, and by other UN entities. Thirdly, information may be submitted by other stakeholders including non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions. All information provided is structured by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and dealt with in dedicated sessions of the Human Rights Council.
An “outcome report” consists of the questions, comments and recommendations made by all other UN member states to the state under review, as well as the replies by that state. The responsibility to implement the recommendations contained in the outcome report rests with the state under review, while there is no full agreement on the legal character of the recommendations.
The current UPR Country reports and documents can be found here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/Documentation.aspx
The UPR mechanism is not an instrument to claim individual human rights; however, it is currently the mechanism with the highest international visibility. Therefore, the UPR review documents of any country taken together provide a very useful and succinct overview of the human rights issues of that country and may therefore be instrumental to frame any individual case.