This past Friday, the United States appeared before the UN Human Rights Council for its Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR is a process through which the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States are reviewed once every four years. I have come to Geneva to witness the US’s UPR first hand and to keep a spotlight on Amnesty International’s human rights concerns.
During the three-hour review, member states had the opportunity to make recommendations to the United States regarding how to improve its human rights record. Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are not allowed to speak during the actual review, they are encouraged to file “shadow reports” which outline their concerns with the US’s human rights record. These reports are compiled into a single report to the HRC. In addition, member states frequently rely on the information in the NGO reports when deciding upon their recommendations.
The issues that Amnesty International highlighted in its UPR submission figured prominently among the recommendations. For example, the nearly unanimous recommendation of the member states was for a US moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view towards abolition.
Ratification of international instruments was also a key recommendation of the majority of states which recommended that the US ratify, in particular, the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Other recommendations spanned a range of concerns from Guantanamo closure to police brutality to migrant rights.