The Universal Periodic Review is a process undertaken by the United Nations Human Rights Council. It involves review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is different from other international human rights scrutiny processes in that it is a peer review process with recommendations being made by other Governments around the world rather than by independent experts.
The UPR provides two major opportunities for Australia:
- It allows the Australian community and Government to take stock of how well we are protecting the human rights of all people in Australia; and
- It permits the Australian Government to inform the international community of the human rights situation in Australia and to engage with other countries about specified steps it will take to improve the enjoyment of human rights in Australia.
Extensive information about the UPR process and Australia's first UPR appearance in 2011 is available on the Commission's main UPR page.
At Australia’s first UPR appearance, 53 countries asked Australia about its human rights record, and made 145 recommendations. The Australian Government accepted, in full or in part, over 90 percent of recommendations made.
Australia also made a number of voluntary commitments during the dialogue, including:
- establishing a full-time Race Discrimination Commissioner in the Australian Human Rights Commission
- tabling in Parliament the concluding observations of human rights treaty bodies and UPR recommendations
- establishing a systematic process for the regular review of Australia's reservations in international human rights treaties
- increasing funding for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions
- establishing a public online database of recommendations from the UN human rights system
- using those UPR recommendations accepted by the government to inform the development of Australia's National Human Rights Action Plan.
Australia's second UPR apprearance is scheduled for July 2015). This will involve review of implementation of existing commitments together with any additional issues which other countries participating in the process decide to raise.
The Commission is working with other organisations to promote monitoring of progress within Australia through
- short annual progress reports;
- more detailed review of status of implementation of each UPR commitment; and
- consultation on additional human rights issues which might be the subject of UPR recommendations and commitments
Following Australia's appearance in the UPR process, the Australian Human Rights Commission committed to publishing an annual report on the status of implementation of the UPR recommendations, on behalf of the Australian Council of Human Rights Agencies (ACHRA),. ACHRA is a body that brings together the Commonwealth, State and Territory anti-discrimination and human rights bodies. The reports provide an annual reflection on Australia's progress in addressing commitments that the Government has made to protect human rights, as well as identifying emerging and ongoing concerns.
Annual progress reports to date are available here:
The Commission will be coordinating with ACHRA a third progress report, to be released on Human Rights Day (10 December) 2013. Details of consultation processes will be posted here shortly.
The Commission's summary of recommendations made and Australia's responses will be updated progressively from July 2013 onwards with comments on the status of commitments made.
You are invited to submit information on
- alternative actions which Australia might take to address issues raised by recommendations which were made but not accepted in Australia's first UPR appearance
- human rights issues which were not the subject of recommendations in Australia's first UPR appearance but which should be considered