The United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process involving the review of a State’s human rights record by Member States of the UN. Taking place every four years in Geneva, it is a state-driven mechanism under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), and was created in 2006 alongside the establishment of the HRC itself. The UPR’s broad objective is to improve human rights (civil/political and economic/social/cultural) in every country. Civil society plays a key role in the UPR process providing submissions on the current status of human rights in their respective country and informing other Member States of possible recommendations to enhance human rights protection.
It is an interactive dialogue including an oral review where Member States make comments and recommendations, and pose questions to the State under review. The State under review has the opportunity to respond and share what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations. NGOs and other stakeholders can attend the review as observers but may not intervene at that time. The State under review has the opportunity to comment on the final report and recommendations, either noting, rejecting or accepting the recommendations. The report is then adopted a few months later at a HRC plenary session. The State under review, Member States, NGOs and other stakeholders have the opportunity to make comments at the HRC plenary session prior to the report being adopted.
The State has a responsibility to implement the UPR recommendations. The UPR Working Group has a role in ensuring that the State under review is accountable in its implementation. All Member States have been reviewed in the first UPR cycle. During the second UPR, the State under review is expected to provide information on their progress or failure to implement the recommendations. The HRC will decide what measures to take for States who are uncooperative in the process and implementation.
The History of the UPR in Canada
Canada underwent its first UPR in February 2009. Many countries made recommendations regarding ways in which Canada could improve its human rights record, which are outlined in the outcome report. Key recommendations were made in the areas of human rights implementation mechanisms, housing and homelessness, poverty, and access to effective remedies for violations of rights. In June 2009, the Canadian government responded to the outcome report, indicating that it accepted, in whole or in part, 54 of the 68 UPR recommendations.
Canada underwent its second UPR starting with the oral review in April 2013. Canada submitted its national report for the second UPR in February 2013. It contained a brief section on poverty and homelessness, outlining the minimal action Canada has taken since the first review.
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