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New Zealand's Third Universal Periodic Review

Preparatory stage, 2018

New Zealand’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council will take place during the 32nd UPR session, from 21 January to 1 February 2019 in Geneva.

This page has background information on the process, New Zealand and the UPR, information about NGO consultation and the NGO reports, and the government's report. Information about the 32nd UPR session and updates is available here.

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About the UPR

The UPR is a mechanism established in 2006 whereby the UN Human Rights Council reviews whether or not UN member states are fulfilling their human rights obligations and commitments. Each state is reviewed once every four and a half years.

Each state's performance is reviewed in relation to the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights instruments which the state is a party to, any human rights pledges it has made (such as when campaigning for election to the Human Rights Council), applicable international humanitarian law, and recommendations made during the previous UPR cycle.

Although the international human rights instruments are an essential element in assessing each state's performance, there are two big differences between the UPR process and the process of the UN human rights committees which monitor state compliance with their respective international Covenant or Convention - the UPR process is done by states, rather than independent human rights experts; and NGO submissions for the UPR process are submitted before the state report, rather than after as happens with the human rights treaty monitoring bodies.

There are three main stages in the cyclical UPR process: the first is the review of each state, which involves several steps; the second is after the review and comprises implementation of the agreed UPR recommendations and any voluntary commitments made by the state; and the third is reporting on progress in implementing the recommendations and on the current human rights situation in the state at the time of the next review.

The first step of the first stage of the review, advance preparation of the three documents on which it is based, is where NGOs can have the most input. The three documents are:

    1) information prepared by the state under review;
    2) a ten page compilation of UN information on the state under review prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and
    3) a ten page compilation summary of information submitted by other relevant stakeholders - including NGOs, human rights defenders, National Human Rights Institutions, academic institutions and so on - which is put together by the OHCHR.

The three review documents are made available on the OHCHR website 10 weeks before the review takes place.

In advance of the review, a troika, consisting of three states, is selected by drawing lots among the Human Rights Council member states. The role of the troika is to assist the Working Group on the UPR (the Working Group) that comprises the 47 member states of the Human Rights Council - each state under review has a different troika.

The review itself takes place in the Working Group (in Geneva), and comprises a three and a half hour session during which the state presents its report, followed by an interactive dialogue between the state under review and Human Rights Council member and observer states. NGOs can be present during the review but cannot participate in it.

Following the interactive dialogue, the troika prepares the report of the Working Group with the involvement of the state under review and the assistance of the OHCHR Secretariat. This document is known as the Outcome Report, and it includes a summary of the interactive dialogue, responses by the State, any voluntary commitments made by the State, and the recommendations by other states. The Outcome Report is first adopted during the Working Group session a few days after the review in a half hour process mainly comprising procedural points.

The final step in the first stage of the process is the adoption of the Outcome Report during the next plenary session of the Human Rights Council. This takes place over one hour, with the time divided into three portions: 20 minutes for the state to reply to questions and issues that were not sufficiently addressed during the Working Group and to respond to recommendations that were raised by other states during the interactive dialogue; 20 minutes for Human Rights Council member and observer states to express their opinion on the Outcome Report; and 20 minutes for NGOs and other stakeholders to make general comments. Only NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status can participate in plenary sessions of the Human Rights Council.

Following the adoption of the Outcome Report, the state is required to implement the recommendations contained in it; and at its next review, to report on what progress has been made towards this goal.

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New Zealand and the UPR

The New Zealand government's first UPR took place in May 2009, with the adoption of the Outcome Report (A/HRC/12/8) by the Working Group on 11 May and by the Human Rights Council on 24 September 2009. The second UPR took place in January 2014, with the adoption of the Outcome Report (A/HRC/26/3) by the Working Group on 31 January 2014 and by the Human Rights Council on 19 June 2014.

The focus of the third UPR will be on the recommendations in the 2014 Outcome Report, and on human rights developments in Aotearoa New Zealand since then based on information provided by NGOs and other stakeholders, and in the government report. Information (including links to the NGO reports and other documents) and updates on the third UPR session are available here.

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How NGOs can be involved in the UPR

There are five main ways in which NGOs can be involved in the UPR process: firstly, by making a written submission (report); secondly, commenting on the government’s draft report when it is released; thirdly, by lobbying Human Rights Council member and observer states after the NGO reports are submitted, before and during the 32nd session of the UPR Working Group (21 January to 1 February 2019); fourthly, by making a presentation during the Human Rights Council session when the Outcome Report is adopted; and finally, by monitoring the government's implementation of the UPR recommendations.

Information on the first part of the process, NGO written submissions, is available here - it is essential to follow the word limits and other instructions in the OHCHR's technical guidelines.

Information on other ways NGOs can be involved is available from Peace Movement Aotearoa.

  • NGO consultation and planning meetings:
    • Wellington - on Monday, 7 May 2018, from 1pm to 2.30pm, please contact Peace Movement Aotearoa if you would like to participate
    • Auckland - on Monday, 9 April 2018, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, please contact the Human Rights Foundation if you would like to participate

  • Deadline for NGO reports
  • The deadline for UPR submissions from NGOs in Aotearoa New Zealand is 3pm, 12 July 2018 (Geneva time, NZ time: 1am, 13 July 2018 ) - please note that submissions received after that date will not be included in the OHCHR compilation of stakeholders' information.

  • How to submit your report
  • NGO UPR submissions must be made via the OHCHR on-line submissions system, guidelines for using the system are available here.

    If you experience any technical problems with the on-line system, please send your report to email - in the subject line of your message, please use the format: name of the (main) coalition or NGO submitting the contribution - the kind of contribution (individual or joint) - the name of the reviewed country - the month and year of the relevant UPR session, for example, 'Indigenous rights coalition – joint UPR submission – New Zealand – January 2019' or '[name of NGO] – individual UPR submission – New Zealand – January 2019'. In the text of the email message with the report, include the details of the relevant contact person and a paragraph describing the NGO or coalition’s main activities and date of establishment.

    The OHCHR secretariat will electronically confirm receipt of your submission, please keep a copy of the receipt message.

  • NGO reports submitted
  • NGO reports submitted in July 2018 for New Zealand's third UPR are available here.

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    NZ government UPR report

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) held meetings around the country from 14 February to 12 March 2018 "for New Zealanders to share their views on current human rights issues" for possible inclusion in the government report, the details are available on this web page (the permalink is and the poster is available here.

    The government's draft national report was released in July 2018 for public comment - many NGOs did not provide feedback on the draft national report because MFAT imposed a word limit of 500 words, which was clearly insufficient.

    The final version of the report was submitted to the OHCHR in October 2018.

    Where you can get more information about the UPR process

    A brief overview of the UPR process is available here. More detailed information is available in the OHCHR's two UPR guides for NGOs (both include information on how to make a submission to the UPR): Information and Guidelines for Relevant Stakeholders Written Submissions and Universal Periodic Review: A Practical Guide for Civil Society.

    NZ Universal Periodic Review index page   |   Peace Movement Aotearoa