Universal Periodic Review

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is one of the most important instruments of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Based on a fixed and predictable timetable, the UPR process is an opportunity to take stock of the human rights situation in all UN member states. Switzerland underwent its third UPR in November 2017.

The Swiss delegation under the direction of State Secretary Pascal Baeriswyl at Switzerland’s third UPR in November 2017.
The Swiss delegation under the direction of State Secretary Pascal Baeriswyl at Switzerland’s third UPR in November 2017. © FDFA

All UN member states are required to undergo the Universal Periodic Review every four and a half years. As part of the review process, the other UN member states analyse a country's human rights situation and make concrete recommendations for improvement. The UPR is based on the report provided by the state under review, information compiled by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and information provided by civil society. 

Procedure

The third UPR cycle is currently under way (2017–21). The UPR takes the form of a dialogue during which the UN member states make recommendations to the state under review, which in turn may comment on the recommendations, accept or reject them. It is the responsibility of the state under review to implement at the national level the recommendations it has accepted.

Switzerland's UPR – official documents from each of the three reviews OHCHR

International and non-governmental organisations accredited to the UN may attend the review session. They are not entitled to take the floor but may give their opinion on the review process when the outcome document is adopted by the Human Rights Council.

Switzerland's third universal peer review

At Switzerland's third UPR in November 2017, 108 states expressed their appreciation for Switzerland’s engagement in human rights and the humanitarian aid it provides. At the same time, they submitted recommendations for improvements. The focus of attention is on the establishment of an independent national human rights institution, discrimination and racism, migration and asylum, and gender equality and identity.

Following a consultation within the Federal Administration, including cantons and non-governmental organisations, Switzerland accepted 160 out of a total of 251 recommendations. The Federal Council approved this briefing note in February 2018.

The UPR is an essential instrument of Switzerland’s human rights policy as set out in the FDFA’s human rights strategy. It contributes to Switzerland’s human rights credibility and the coherence between foreign and domestic policies. The UPR also acts as an entry point for dialogue on human rights within the context of bilateral consultations.