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Australia's Third Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Rights Rights and Freedoms
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Australia's Third Universal Periodic Review Picture Collage

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a peer-review dialogue undertaken by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council and all 192 Member States of the UN.  

Every five years, the UPR considers the progress of every country in the realisation of all human rights. It identifies human rights achievements and challenges, with countries making recommendations to the country undergoing review. 

The UPR is an opportunity to: 

  • take stock of how well we are protecting the human rights of all people in Australia 

  • inform the international community of the human rights situation in Australia 

  • engage with other countries about specified steps Australia will take to improve the enjoyment of human rights in Australia. 

Australia has undergone two reviews, the first in 2011 and the second in 2015

Australia's third cycle review was scheduled for the 37th Session of the UPR Working Group on 25 January 2021. 

The review took place on the basis of three documents: 

  • the national report prepared by the Australian Government

  • the United Nations human rights report

  • the stakeholders report which includes contributions by the AHRC and NGOs from Australia. 

The Commission’s role in the UPR 

In advance of the appearance, the Commission contributed an independent assessment of Australia’s human rights situation on the ground, made recommendations about ongoing challenges, and worked with civil society organisations who took part in the process.  

Our submission to the third cycle review welcomed positive developments since the last cycle in 2015 and highlights the ongoing substantial weaknesses in Australia’s human rights protections and new challenges that are arising, including the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Commission has also undertaken an assessment of the implementation status of all recommendations made to Australia in the second UPR in 2015. At this time, approximately 11% of recommendations supported by the government have been fully implemented, approximately 80% have been partly implemented and approximately 9% not implemented.

UPR 2021–Key issues 

The Commission has produced 25 fact sheets on key issues for Australia’s appearance at the UPR in 2021. 

Civil society participation in the UPR 

NGOs and civil society organisations were also invited to take part in the UPR process. Submissions could have been made individually or jointly with other NGOs. Submissions for the third cycle of the UPR are now closed. 

A coalition of NGOs formed to prepare a joint submission for the third cycle review. The joint submission and more information about the NGO coalition can be found on the Human Rights Law Centre website.