United Nations (UN)

An international organization consisting of 193 countries or ‘Member States’ which aims to help with cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, human rights, and working towards world peace. There are many different agencies within the UN, which each have specific responsibilities.

United Nations General Assembly

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is the main decision making body of the UN. The UNGA considers how the UN is run and looks at new policies. All 193 member States participate in the General Assembly and each country has one vote.

United Nations Member States

Member States are sovereign states that are a member of the United Nations. There are currently 193 UN Member States. Each one is a member of, and has an equal role in, the UN General Assembly.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The UDHR is a cornerstone document in the history of human rights, as it is the first time that it was formally recognized that human rights are: (1) universal (everyone is born with and possesses the same rights, regardless of where they live, their gender or race, or their religious, cultural or ethnic background), (2) inalienable because people’s rights can never be taken away, and (3) indivisible, interdependent and interrelated (all rights – political, civil, social, cultural and economic – are equal in importance and none can be fully enjoyed without the others). Human Rights are upheld by the rule of law, and states and other duty-bearers are held accountable for protecting these rights.

Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process set up by the United Nation’s (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) which reviews the entire human rights record of all 193 UN Member States every four and a half years. It is also the only monitoring process where UN Member States may ask questions or make recommendations to each other, and for this reason it is a unique and important opportunity for advocacy.

Each state is reviewed on the obligations under: (1) the Charter of the United Nations, (2) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (3) Human Rights instruments which a State is party to, for example, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), etc., (4) voluntary pledges and commitments made by States, and (5) applicable international humanitarian law. The UPR is intended to complement the work of other human rights mechanisms, including the UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies.