UPDATED: First Universal Periodic Review of the United States provides opportunities for advocates

March 26, 2010

In December 2010, the United States will participate in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) for the first time.  Six weeks prior to the December review the United States government will submit its report to the HRC for its consideration in the process.  The UPR is a relatively new process through which the human rights records of the United Nations’ 192 Member States are reviewed every four years.  The UPR process was created in March 2006, and it is anticipated that the first comprehensive review of all UN Member States will be completed by 2011.  The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is providing critical support to the HRC by assisting in the compilation of information that will be considered by the HRC during the UPR review process.

Although the UPR is a State-led process, there are a number of ways in which civil society can become involved, and there are several ways that NGOs in the United States, including organizations of persons with disabilities, can become involved:

  • Participate in a meeting of the U.S. State Department – the State Department is the lead government agency charged with preparing the U.S.’ report for submission to the HRC.  In preparation of its submission the State Department will be holding meetings with U.S. civil society to receive Americans’ input and comments on the human rights situation in the U.S.   Information about such meetings is now available on the State Department’s website (see link below), and is also being distributed through the U.S. Human Rights Network’s UPR Project (see below).
  • Participate in the U.S. Human Rights Network UPR Project – as well as considering government reports, the HRC can also consider reports submitted to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights by civil society.  The USHRN has begun a UPR Project (see link below) to engage Americans in writing reports for submission to the HRC.  “Cluster reports” (submitted jointly by multiple groups on specific themes) will be collected by the USHRN by March 19 for inclusion in a final report which will be submitted by USHRN to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights by the NGO deadline of April 19, 2010.
  • Submit a report directly to the UN – if you or your organization which to submit a report directly to the UN, you can find out more information about this by following the links for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (below).  Please be mindful that all NGO submissions related to the U.S. UPR review are due by April 19, 2010, 12:00pm CET to uprsubmissions@ohchr.org.  Submissions are limited to ten pages in length for individuals or ten pages for groups of authors.

For further information on these and related processes, please refer to:

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights UPR page

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Guidance for NGOs

U.S. State Department UPR page    

Direct link to schedule of UPR civil society consultations on U.S. State Department website

U.S. Human Rights Network UPR Project page