List of UPR Terms

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Addendum:  The addendum is a document drafted by the State under Review containing their responses to the Working Group list of recommendations. An Addendum is limited to 2,675 words. The addendum is a secondary document to the Working Group Report.

Advance written questions: Advance questions are made by States and directed at the State under Review (SuR) about its human rights situation. These questions are submitted to a SuR through the troika, in writing, ten working days before the Working Group session. They are expected to be answered by the SuR during the presentation of its National Report during the review. 

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Basis of the review: The basis of the review is the elements taken into account to conduct the review of the human rights records of a given State. It consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Charter, the treaties to which the State is a party, the voluntary pledges and commitments the State has undertaken and international humanitarian law.

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Civil Society (Organisations):  Civil Society organisations are non-governmental and non-profit organisations working on a wide range of issues.  They include NGOs but also a range of other entities, such as faith-based organisations, trade unions, academic groups, lawyers, human rights defenders, etc. Civil society has many opportunities to engage in the UPR process, notably through submitting information on the human rights situation, lobbying Permanent Missions in Geneva and their counterparts in-country, taking the floor during the adoption of the Working Group report at the Human Rights Council, and monitoring the implementation of recommendations on the ground.

Compilation of UN information:  The Compilation of UN information is prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It summarises and compiles all information submitted to the OHCHR on a specific State under Review by UN agencies and other UN human rights mechanisms, such as Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures. The compilation also includes potential recommendations. It cannot exceed 5,350 words. (It is one of the three documents used to conduct the review of a State; see also the National Report and the Summary of other Stakeholders’ information).

Consultations (National):  Consultations are meetings that a State under Review should hold with representatives from civil society and the National Human Rights Institution in view of the drafting of their national report to the UPR. Consultations should also be held during the follow-up phase.

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ECOSOC consultative status: ECOSOC status is granted by a NGO Committee in New York comprised of 19 Member States. It allows NGOs to access various human rights mechanisms, including the Universal Periodic Review. NGOs need ECOSOC status to enter UN premises, attend the review, make a statement (oral and written) during the adoption of the Working Group report, and organise parallel events at the UPR and the Human Rights Council. However, ECOSOC status is not needed for NGOs to submit a report on the human rights situation in the State under Review or to monitor and take part in the implementation of recommendations.

Extranet: The extranet is a website run by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and is only accessible by password. It contains organisational documents such as programmes of work, calendars of meetings and minutes of the Human Rights Council Bureau.  Documents related to the Human Rights Council and the UPR, such as statements by States and NGOs, draft UPR Working Group reports and draft resolutions, can also be found on the extranet.

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Follow-up:  The Follow-up is a phase of the UPR process, between two reviews, during which the State under Review should take appropriate measures to implement the recommendations. Other stakeholders are encouraged to provide support as well as monitor the progress made.

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General Debate:  The General Debate is a discussion that takes place at the Human Rights Council under each agenda item. During the general debate on the UPR (item 6), States, national human rights institutions and civil society organisations take the floor to discuss UPR modalities. It is also the opportunity to provide feedback on the implementation of recommendations in a particular country. States usually present their Mid-term reports during the General Debate.

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Human Rights Council: The Human Rights Council (HRC) is the United Nations body in charge of human rights. Located in Geneva, it meets three times per year to discuss a vast range of issues and country situations. It is composed of 47 members elected for three years by the General Assembly. It is also responsible for the organisation of the UPR.

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Implementation:  Implementation consists of the steps undertaken by a State to comply with the recommendations received during their review (see also Follow-up).

Institutional-building package: See ‘Resolution 5/1’.

Interactive dialogue: The interactive dialogue is the discussion taking place between the State under Review (SuR) and other States during the 3.5 hour review in the Working Group.  States pose questions and make comments as well as put forward recommendations to the SuR. The SuR is expected to respond to those questions and comments during this dialogue.

International Humanitarian Law (IHL): International Humanitarian Law regulates the conduct of armed conflicts.  It is supposed to protect persons who are not or are no longer participating in the hostilities (prisoners of war) and restricts the means and methods of warfare. The two main legal treaties in IHL are the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Convention.  IHL is one of the five bases of the review of the UPR.

Item 6: Item of the Human Rights Council (HRC) agenda that is dedicated to the UPR. The HRC agenda has 10 items in total.

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Mandate-Holders: See ‘Special Rapporteur’.

Mid-term Report:  A mid-term report is a report submitted by a State, providing the Human Rights Council with information on the process of implementation of the recommendations. A voluntary update on the process of implementation is encouraged in paragraph 18 of Resolution 16/21. The report should be submitted two/three years after the review to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. States are encouraged to conduct broad consultations with all relevant stakeholders and reflect their perspectives in the report. Other stakeholders may also publish mid-term reports about the human rights on the ground and the status of implementation of the recommendations by their government. Other stakeholders’ reports cannot be submitted to OHCHR, but may be presented under Item 6 of the General Debate, posted on the organisations’ own websites and/or on the website of UPR Info.

Modalities: Modalities are rules or guidelines governing the UPR. The main modalities of the UPR are contained in General Assembly Resolution 60/251 and Human Rights Council Resolutions 5/1 and 16/21.

Monitoring: Monitoring is the watching over by stakeholders, including civil society, the national institution for human rights and UN agencies, of the progress made by the Government to implement UPR recommendations.

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National Human Rights Institution: The National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) is a State body with a constitutional and/or legislative mandate to protect and promote human rights.  NHRIs should comply with the Paris Principles and are ranked according to their independence (from ‘A’ to ‘C’). The NHRIs with an ‘A’ status enjoy greater access to the UN human rights bodies. NHRIs must apply for accreditation to the International Coordinating Committee. An ombudsman can be considered an NHRI.

National Report (or State Report): The national report is a report prepared by the Government of the State under Review about the human rights situation in the country. It should also include information regarding implementation of previous recommendations. The report cannot be longer than 10,700 words and should be submitted 12 weeks before the review. The national report is one of three documents used to conduct the review of a State. See also Compilation of UN information and Summary of Other Stakeholders’ information.

Noted: According to Resolution 5/1, recommendations at the UPR can either be "supported" or "noted". Noted recommendations can, however, still be implemented and monitored, as part of the follow-up work of Governments and civil society.

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Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):  The OHCHR is the human rights branch of the United Nations. It is part of the United Nations Secretariat, with headquarters in Geneva.  The OHCHR has offices in various countries and regions and works to ensure that international human rights standards are effectively implemented on the ground.  It supports the work of the UN treaty bodies and the UN Human Rights Council. The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the head of the Office and leads the work of the United Nations on human rights. 

Other Stakeholders:  See under S.

Outcome: The outcome of the UPR consists of a set of documents published in the framework of the review of a country which includes the Working Group report, the addendum, and the statement delivered by the State under Review during the adoption of the Working Group report at the Human Rights Council.

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Pre-sessions: UPR pre-sessions are meetings organised by UPR Info bringing together Permanent Missions, National Human Rights Institutions and Civil Society Organisations to discuss the human rights situation in the States coming up for review at the UPR. The pre-sessions take place one month prior to a State’s review and provide a valuable platform for civil society to engage with UN member States and make their voice heard at the UPR.

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Recommendation: Recommendations are suggestions made by States to a State under Review (SuR) on how to improve the human rights situations in their home countries. Recommendations can be very diverse in terms of actions contained and issues addressed. The SuR is expected to respond to all recommendations made to it by either accepting or noting them. SuR’s responses to all recommendations should be submitted in writing prior to the adoption of the Working Group report at the Human Rights Council.

Recommending State: A Recommending State is a country which takes the floor during the review of a specific States to ask questions and make recommendations. For example:  Country A recommends country B “to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”. Country A would be the Recommending State in this example.

Report of the Working Group: The Working Group Report is the outcome of the review of a given State. It contains a full account of a State’s review, including a summary of questions and comments made by States during the review as well as a complete list of all recommendations (including both accepted and noted recommendations). The troika and the State under Review assist the Human Rights Council (HRC) Secretariat in drafting this report. The list of recommendations is distributed online 48 hours after the review and adopted a few days after while the full draft report is available one week after the end of the Working Group session. The final version of the report is adopted by the HRC a few months later at a plenary session.

Resolution 16/21: This resolution by the Human Rights Council (HRC) was adopted in March 2011 following the Review of the HRC, which took place in 2010-2011.  As a result of the Review, some modalities of the UPR were changed for the second cycle.  Resolution 16/21 describes the changes and decisions made during the Review. It notably indicates that the second cycle of the UPR would begin in June 2012, that the cycle period changed from four (4) years to four and a half (4 1/2) years and that only 42 member states will be reviewed during the three (3) sessions of the Working Group. The resolution highlights that the second and subsequent cycles should focus on the implementation of the recommendations and the developments of the human rights situation in the State under Review.

Resolution 5/1:  This resolution by the Human Rights Council (HRC) outlines the practices and guidelines to be followed during the UPR. It was adopted on 18 June 2007 following one year of negotiations within the HRC. It is also called the Institutional-building package.

Resolution 60/251: Resolution 60/251 is the UN General Assembly resolution establishing the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review. It was adopted on 15 March 2006 and was part of the UN reforms that replaced the Commission on Human Rights with the Human Rights Council.

Review:  The Review is the examination by the UPR Working Group (WG) of whether UN member States are respecting the commitments they made and agreements they signed under international law. In particular, States are reviewed on their human rights obligations deriving from the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Human rights treaties ratified by the State concerned, international humanitarian law and any voluntary pledges and commitments made by the State.  The WG will use the National Report, the Compilation of UN Information and the Summary of Other Stakeholders’ Information to conduct the review. During the process, an interactive dialogue takes place between the State under Review and other States in which questions concerning the State under Review’s human rights record is addressed and recommendations on how to improve the human rights situation in the country are submitted. During the review, the SuR has 70 minutes to speak, while the other States have 140 minutes.

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Secretariat (HRC):  The Human Rights Council Secretariat assists the Human Rights Council and the UPR in the organisation of the sessions. The HRC Secretariat is composed of staff from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Session (Working Group): See ‘Working Group’.

Side event:  A side event is an unofficial meeting organised in the Palais des Nations in Geneva in parallel to a Human Rights Council or UPR session. A side event can be organised by a State, a national human rights institution, an NGO or the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The event usually discusses a specific human rights issue or the human rights situation in a specific country. It can also cover the launch of a publication.

Special Procedures: Special Procedures is a mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aiming to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights supports the mandate of the Special Procedures. Special Procedures can be an individual (“Special Rapporteur”, “Independent Expert” or “mandate-holders”) or a working group composed of five members. They are created by HRC resolutions and for a limited time. See also “Special Rapporteur”.

Special Rapporteur:  Special Rapporteur (or Independent expert) is the title given to individuals bearing a specific mandate from the UN on a given country or thematic issue.  Generally Special Rapporteurs examine, monitor, advise and publicly report on human rights issues falling under their mandate. They publish a yearly report to the Human Rights Council. The activities undertaken by Rapporteurs include, inter alia, responding to individual complaints, conducting studies, raising awareness and providing advice on technical cooperation at the country level. They can also conduct country missions but , first, they have to be invited by the Government concerned. Rapporteurs may not hold their positions for longer than six (6) years.

Stakeholders:  Stakeholders are actors which take part in the UPR process. They include the State under Review, national institution for human rights, civil society, United Nations agencies, academics, parliamentarians, etc.

Other Stakeholders:  The term ‘Other Stakeholders’ is usually used at the UPR to designate actors, excluding States, that take part in the UPR process. It includes national institutions for human rights, civil society, United Nations agencies, academics, parliamentarians, etc.

State Report:  See “National Report.”

State under Review (SuR): A SuR is a UN member State that is having its human rights record reviewed under the UPR.

Submission (NGO): Submissions are reports submitted by NGOs to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to be part of the Summary of Other Stakeholders’ Information. Any civil society organisation, with or without ECOSOC status, can submit a report. NGOs can join together and submit joint reports. Individual reports are limited to 2,815 words while joint reports are limited to 5,630 words. Submissions are usually due 7 to 8 months before the review.

Summary of Other Stakeholders’ Information: The Summary of Other Stakeholders’ Information is a report compiled by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that summarises the information and recommendations contained in the NGO submissions. The compilation cannot exceed 5,350 words (It is one of the three documents used to conduct the review of a State; see also the National Report and the Compilation of UN information).

T for

Technical assistance:  Technical assistance is a request for help sought by a State from the United Nations (UN) or from other States. Technical assistance requests may include, but are not limited to, requests for staff, training programs in certain areas,  help in drafting reports and requests to work together to develop programs. The UN has two voluntary funds to answer requests for technical assistance (See ‘Voluntary funds’).

Treaty Bodies:  Treaty bodies are committees of independent experts that monitor how core international human rights treaties and their optional protocols are being implemented by the State parties. States must have ratified a specific treaty in order to be reviewed by its relevant body. One example of a treaty body is the Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Troika: The troika assists the Working Group (WG) with the human rights review of a state.  It is a group of three delegates from Human Rights Council members selected by drawing lots. A troika member may take the floor as any other delegation and ask questions and make recommendations during the interactive dialogue.  The troika representatives have two main roles: (1) receive all written questions and/or issues raised by the WG and relays them to the State under Review (SuR) and (2) help preparing the report of the WG with the assistance of the UN Secretariat and the SuR. One Troika member is in charge of introducing the list of recommendations before its adoption at the WG.

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Universal Periodic Review (UPR): The UPR is a United Nations human rights mechanism established by resolution 60/251 of the General Assembly to review the human rights records of all UN member States.  Each member state is reviewed every 4 ½ years by the UPR Working Group.  During the review process each State under Review is asked questions by their peers regarding their human rights record and also given recommendations on how to improve the human rights situation in their home country.

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Voluntary pledges: Voluntary pledges are commitments made by a State under Review in the course of the UPR to do a specific action. Voluntary pledges can be made at different stages: during the drafting of the national report, during the review, and during the adoption of the Working Group report. For example, many States have made a voluntary pledge to submit a mid-term report on the implementation of recommendations received during their UPR review. 

Voluntary Trust Fund for participation: The Fund for participation, or Fund 1, is a fund established by Human rights Council Resolution 6/17 to assist developing countries, particularly least developing countries, in their participation in the UPR process in Geneva. The Fund can cover the expenses of traveling costs to Geneva for delegation members and support trainings prior to the UPR.

Voluntary Trust Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance: The Voluntary Trust Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance, or Fund 2, is a fund established by Human Rights Council Resolution 6/17 to assist States in their implementation of UPR recommendations.

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Webcast:  The webcast is a live video streaming of a Human Rights Council or UPR session. The webcasts are then posted both on the OHCHR and UPR Info websites and are accessible by anyone. 

Working Group: The UPR Working Group (WG) is the body that conducts the human rights review of States.  In practice, all 193 UN member States, as well as the Holy See and the State of Palestine, are part of the group. The WG meets in Geneva, Switzerland three times per year with a total of fourteen (14) countries for each session to be reviewed.  WG sessions usually take place in January, April, and October.

Working Group Report:  See ‘Report of the Working Group’.

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