Universal Periodic Review
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process undertaken by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council. It involves the review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States once every four and a half years.
The UPR is an opportunity for New Zealand to:
- take stock of how well we are protecting the human rights of all people in New Zealand; and
- inform the international community of the human rights situation in New Zealand
- engage with other countries about specified steps New Zealand will take to improve the enjoyment of human rights in New Zealand.
Every country which is a member of the UN has their human rights record reviewed under the UPR.
The UPR is a peer review process. Recommendations on actions New Zealand should take are made by individual governments of other states. They are not made by the UN or the Human Rights Council as a whole.
New Zealand has undergone two reviews and will undergo its third review during the 32nd Session of the UPR Working Group on 18 January 2019 (see information below).
Review of New Zealand
On the 21 January 2019, New Zealand’s human rights record will be reviewed as part of the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
All 193 Member States of the United Nations take part in the UPR process and can make recommendations to the New Zealand Government. The review is based on three documents:
- New Zealand Government National Report
- Compilation of UN information
- Stakeholder summary: The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) summarises reports submitted by the national human rights institute and civil society organisations on the human rights situation in New Zealand. The Human Rights Commission’s report contributes to the summary. The Commission also contributed to a submission by the independent organisations who monitor places of detention in New Zealand (which you can read here).
At the conclusion of the three hour review in Geneva, a draft report will be adopted setting out whether New Zealand has supported, noted or left pending recommendations made by States. On average States make about three recommendations. At the Human Rights Council session in June 2019, the report will be officially adopted recording New Zealand’s final position on the recommendations made.
In the lead up to the review in January 2019, the Human Rights Commission hosted a pre-session in Wellington on 26 October 2018. Thirteen NGOs and the Human Rights Commission outlined New Zealand’s human rights challenges at the briefing session for Wellington-based diplomats representing over 30 countries.
The 13 NGOs present gave detailed presentations on issues such as family violence, youth justice and structural discrimination. To moderate the session and provide training for the NGOs, the Human Rights Commission brought Geneva-based NGO, UPR Info to New Zealand. UPR-Info, which is funded by a host of European Governments, provides services, education and training to ensure cooperation between governments, human rights institutions, civil society, United Nations agencies, and media to implement human rights obligations and commitments.
The visiting Programme Manager, Nargiz Arupova and Programme Assistance, Laura Sinner were in New Zealand for one week. They ran training sessions for NGOs in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington before moderating the UPR Pre-session in Wellington on 26 October. Over 70 people attended the training sessions representing a number of NGOs. As part of the training organisations prepared advocacy fact sheets. Links to some of the fact sheets can be found:
Presentations made by UPR Info can be found here:
Presentations made by civil society organisations can be found here:
A pre-session for the third review is held in Geneva between 10-13 December 2018. NGOs can travel to Geneva to brief the diplomatic missions based there. More information about the session can be found here.
As part of New Zealand's second UPR the Human Rights Commission was invited to make a submission to the UN Human Rights Council. Click here to read the Commission’s UPR 13/14 submission (Word).
You can also read the UPR annexes to the Commission submission: Commission UPR Recommendations, Submission of the OPCAT National Preventive Mechanism; Submission of the CRPD Monitoring Mechanism, Submission of the UNCROC Monitoring Group; Assessment of steps taken to implement 2009 UPR recommendations; List of Bills that passed all stages under urgency.
NGO's and Civil Society
NGO's and civil society groups were consulted on the UPR and given an opportunity to make a submission to the Commission.
Click here to read the submissions made by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society groups to the UPR.
New Zealand's second Periodic Review
New Zealand’s second National Report to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review took place on 27 January 2014 in Geneva. Justice Minister Judith Collins presented the actions taken by the New Zealand government following the 2009 review.
Click here to read the Government’s UPR report.
Recommendations made to New Zealand
Among the 155 recommendations made to New Zealand overall, participating member states highlighted the need to:
- In consultation with all relevant actors, develop a comprehensive action plan to target gender-based violence and violence against women;
- Allocate adequate resources to ensure the full implementation of measures to prevent violence against women and children;
- Develop a national action plan for women to address issues such as violence against women, pay equality, the situation of Māori and Pacific women and women with disabilities;
- To take further steps to advance the human rights of indigenous populations and reduce the remaining social differences for and discrimination against the Maori population;
- To step up efforts to prevent discrimination against members of the Māori and Pasifika communities in the criminal justice system and, in particular, the high rates of incarceration.
Here is a full list of the recommendations made to New Zealand by the UPR:
New Zealand Government Response to UPR Recommendations
The government formally responded to the United Nations Human Rights Council second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of New Zealand, accepting the “vast majority” of the 155 recommendations.
Minister Collins said “Nearly all countries commended our excellent human rights record and acknowledged the progress we are making in protecting women and children against violence, and recommended these efforts continue.”
A compilation of UN information and its summary of stakeholders’ information is available on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website.
Here is the New Zealand Government’s response to recommendations arising from its second Universal Periodic Review:
New Zealand’s UPR Outcome Report was adopted by the UPR Working Group on Friday, 31 January. The New Zealand Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Amanda Ellis, responded on behalf of the Government. Ms Ellis noted that all recommendations would be taken on notice and that New Zealand would report back to the Human Rights Council no later than June 2014.
The reason for adopting this approach was to ensure that the international conversation that has taken place on New Zealand’s human rights record is properly linked to domestic implementation and in particular the development of New Zealand’s second National Plan of Action on Human Rights. Adopting such an approach also ensures that stakeholder views can be included in the next steps of the UPR process.
Overall States recognised the high realisation of human rights in New Zealand and commended the Government on its ongoing commitment to improve the realisation of rights for all people in Aotearoa New Zealand. In many areas States considered there was much to learn from the New Zealand experience and expressly requested our advice and assistance.
Issues and questions raised by States included:
- violence against women;
- the rights of children;
- the gender pay gap;
- the human rights of Maori;
- the rebuilding and compensation process in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes;
- the human rights framework
Over 100 recommendations were made to New Zealand. Click here to access the official record of the session.
Useful resources for the UPR 13/14
Powerpoint presentations from HRC workshops
UPR and the Canterbury earthquakes
A group of law students at the University of Canterbury under the supervision of Senior Lecturer Natalie Baird are co-ordinating and writing a joint stakeholder submission for New Zealand’s Universal Periodic Review which is taking place in early 2014. Their submission will focus on the human rights issues which have arisen as a consequence of the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes. A short online presentation about their project can be viewed here.
If you are a community or non-governmental organisation and would be interested in getting involved or knowing more about their project, please email Natalie Baird or [email protected].
Queer, Trans and Intersex people consultation
Notes from the UPR video conference for queer, trans and intersex people conducted on 18 April, 2013 can be viewed here.