As one of the three branches of Government, parliaments play a key role at the national level for the realization of human rights. Their legislative, oversight and budgetary powers provide them with the tools to ensure that human rights are protected and promoted for all.
Parliaments are instrumental in making sure that the recommendations coming out of the international human rights mechanisms, including the UPR and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council and the treaty body system, are translated into national legislation and policies and are implemented at the national level. Parliaments therefore play a crucial role in ensuring Governments’ compliance with their international human rights obligations.
The Human Rights Council has also been exploring ways to improve the contribution of parliaments to its work and the UPR. Through its resolution 35/29, the Human Rights Council encouraged States to promote the involvement of parliaments in all stages of the UPR process. It also requested OHCHR to prepare a study – in close cooperation with the IPU - on how to promote and enhance synergies between parliaments and the work of the Human Rights Council and its UPR. OHCHR conducted this study based on a survey sent to Parliaments worldwide (English, Français, Español), which resulted in HRC report 38/25.
Responses to the survey have shown broad support for the development by the United Nations of international principles on parliaments and human rights. Annex I to HRC report 38/25 contains such draft principles (English, Français, العربية – courtesy translation by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean – PAM) . The Principles have a specific focus on guiding parliaments in the setting up of parliamentary human rights committees, as well as in ensuring their effective functioning and key responsibilities.
With regard to the UPR, parliaments play a critical role at each stage of the process. Before the review, they can make an active contribution to the national report and encourage the Government to host a broad consultation process. During the review, they can participate in the Working Group session, either as a member of the Government delegation or as an observer. After the review they can ensure parliamentary follow up action on those UPR recommendations that require legislative and budgetary action.
For more information on the role of parliaments, see “Tips for Parliamentarians on engagement with the UPR” [English, Français, Español]
Click the following link for an overview of parliamentary representation on Government UPR delegations since the first UPR cycle.
OHCHR-IPU workshop for parliamentarians, “COVID-19 pandemic recovery through a human rights lens: What contribution from parliaments?” (29-30 June 2021)
OHCHR-IPU-Commonwealth Secretariat workshop for parliamentary human rights committees (Asia Pacific region, members Commonwealth), “Engaging parliaments on the promotion of human rights including on the work of the Human Rights Council and its UPR” (17-18 November 2020)
OHCHR-IPU-Commonwealth Secretariat workshop for parliamentary human rights committees (Caribbean and Canada, and Africa and Europe, members Commonwealth), “Engaging parliaments on the promotion of human rights including on the work of the Human Rights Council and its UPR” (13-14 July 2020)
UN General Assembly 74th session, Side event, “Increasing parliaments’ engagement with human rights” (14 October 2019)
HRC 41st session, Side event, “Parliament engagement on human rights: identifying good practices and new opportunities for action” (June 2019)
HRC 39th session, General Debate item 5 (19 September 2018)
HRC 38th session, Side Event, “Increasing parliaments’ engagement with human rights" (June 2018)
Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)
Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM)
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