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Pomona College

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy


Fifty, thirty, or even just twenty years ago, would one ever imagine a powerful country like the U.S., China, or Russia preparing a national report on the human rights situation in their country, then presenting it in front of a UN political body, engaging in dialogue, answering questions, and responding to recommendations from fellow Member States? This became a reality in 2006 when the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) replaced the problematic UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) and established a new and unprecedented mechanism known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Under this instrument, the human rights records and situations of every single country in the world would be examined through a common procedure. With its 1st cycle complete and 2nd cycle in progress until 2016, the UPR has displayed both its strengths and potential weaknesses. These were examined through the presentation and analysis of numerous primary and secondary sources, as well as six formal interviews with extremely relevant professionals and experts. Ultimately, it is primarily the responsibility of UN Member States to participate and cooperate with genuine political will, good faith, and belief in the process. At the same time, the interaction of and between other stakeholders in the review is equally as important. By outlining the transition from the Commission to the Council, the creation and functioning of the UPR, the primary achievements of and challenges to the universal mechanism and a few final thoughts, this research paper seeks to encourage discussion and critical thought into the significance of the peer and periodic review process and how it can be improved before the beginning of the 3rd cycle in order to achieve its stated objectives.


International Relations | Peace and Conflict Studies | Political Science | Politics and Social Change