United Nations Universal Periodic Review of India’s Human Rights Record
Irene Asia Scomparin – South Asian Countries Researcher, Global Human Rights Defence
This afternoon the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will examine India’s human rights record for its fourth cycle since 2008. The UPR process is part of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and it consists of a periodic assessment of the human rights situation of every member country. The UPR is a mechanism of peer review for state members of the UN which assesses the performance of fellow states but it also reinforces the “centrality of states in assuming and fulfilling their human rights obligations” (The Economic Times).
India is one of the States under review by the UPR Working Group during the session currently taking place from November 7 to November 18, 2022. This marks the beginning of the fourth cycle for the UN Universal Period Review. The previous three reviews regarding India took place in April 2008, May 2012, and May 2017, respectively. During the fourth UPR cycle, States are required to present the progress made and the actions taken to comply with the recommendations proposed in the past sessions, and to draw attention to the latest human rights developments within the nation (OHCHR Press Release).
The review is based on a series of documents that are submitted prior to the official meeting. The documentation is firstly centred on the National Report, which is provided by the State under analysis in the months before to the review date. Then, the UPR takes into consideration all the information from other interested parties, which has been compiled in the reports of UN-linked entities and bodies, as well as information coming from external stakeholders, such as national human rights institutions, regional organisations and civil society groups.
The fundamental premise to analyse the content of the Indian National Report is proposed in the introductory section of the text: “being a vast country with diverse population, limited resources and developmental challenges, but with a vision informed by the ethos of human rights, India continues to strive for a better society for its people” (2022 Indian National Report for UPR). The content attempts to provide a comprehensive analysis of the human rights pledges and developments at the national level, with subsections divided into macro-topics: an overarching framework, cross-cutting issues (Sustainable Development Goals, poverty), civil and political rights (human trafficking and slavery), economic, social and cultural rights (healthcare, education), and group rights.
Next, there is the compilation of information prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. This document consists of a series of recommendations provided by bodies such as the UNESCO and UNHCR linked to the United Nations, with the aim of underlining existing violations or concerns in terms of human rights within the territory of India. For instance, “The United Nations country team noted that, according to ILO, 89 per cent of employed women were in informal jobs, while the national average for men and women was 88.6 per cent. Women workers had limited access to employer-based maternity benefits” (Compilation of UN information).
Finally, the third report taken into consideration in this UPR meeting is a compilation of submissions coming from seventy stakeholders, spanning from civil society to institution National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC). In this document, the stakeholders have for instance recommended to proceed with the ratification of numerous international conventions, as well as other procedures at the national level (laws, policy measures and more) regarding the principal human rights violations and concerns within the Indian territory.
The session will take place at 14.30 CET on November 10, 2022. Link for the webcast at: http://webtv.un.org.
Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (August 19, 2022). Compilation of information prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right. Retrieved from: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G22/464/18/PDF/G2246418.pdf?OpenElement.
Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (August 17, 2022). National report submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions 5/1 and 16/21, India. Retrieved from: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G22/463/20/PDF/G2246320.pdf?OpenElement.
Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (July 22, 2022). Summary of Stakeholders’ submissions on India. Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved from: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G22/411/95/PDF/G2241195.pdf?OpenElement.
The Economic Times (November 9, 2022). India’s report on human rights to be reviewed by UN member states under UPR mechanism Thursday. India Times. Retrieved from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/indias-report-on-human-rights-to-be-reviewed-by-un-member-states-under-upr-mechanism-thursday/articleshow/95395386.cms.
United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (November 7, 2022). India’s human rights record to be examined by Universal Periodic Review. OHCHR Press Release. Retrieved from: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/11/indias-human-rights-record-be-examined-universal-periodic-review.