UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

The Universal Periodic Review is conducted for each member state of the UN at four-year intervals at the session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

During the review, other UN members can present recommendations to the member state under review on the promotion and safeguarding of human rights and present questions about the human rights situation in the country in question.

The process is akin to a peer review mechanism and as such not comparable to the monitoring carried out by the UN’s treaty monitoring bodies. The review is based on the national report submitted by the member state, information received from the UN’s human rights mechanisms, as well as reports from the national human rights institution, civil society organisations and other actors.

The member state can either accept the recommendations or note them.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs coordinates the drawing up of Finland’s national report and the preparations for Finland’s UPR review.

Finland in the UN human rights review 2017

The third round of the UPR process started in May 2017 and will conclude in 2021. The human rights situation in Finland was under review for the third time at the 27th session of the UPR Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 1–12 May 2017.

Finland received a total of 153 recommendations from 70 member states on topics including:

  • racism, discrimination, hate speech, and violence against women
  • abolition of the infertility requirement from the conditions of legal recognition of gender
  • human rights education
  • the rights of asylum seekers and refugees
  • employment of people with disabilities, and accessibility in general
  • the strengthening of resources for the national human rights institution and the national action plan on the promotion of fundamental and human rights

UPR 2017 – the Human Rights Centre reports for the first time

As the representative of Finland’s national human rights institution (NHRI), the Human Rights Centre gave its first submission for Finland’s universal period review in 2017.

In its report, the HRC evaluated in particular the implementation of the rights of vulnerable people and how the government takes into account fundamental and human rights in its operation.

Read the HRC’s report.

HRC’s statement to the government on the themes of the recommendations

In June 2017, the HRC issued a statement to draw the government’s attention to certain themes that were highlighted in the recommendations and which the HRC had also addressed in its UPR contributions. The statement was addressed to Prime Minister Sipilä among others.

In its statement, the HRC expressed its wish that the government in its reviews pays particular attention to whether the frequent recommendations it received regarding the implementation of fundamental and basic rights were evidence of defects that the government should more actively seek to remedy.

The HRC also discussed some of the themes highlighted in the recommendations in the current UPR round. They included the legal recognition of gender, the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers, human rights education, ratification of ILO Convention no. 169, the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and the resourcing of work on fundamental and human rights.

Adoption of the final report in September 2017

The final report on Finland’s universal period review (UPR) was adopted at the session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 21 September 2017.

After a national-level discussion, Finland stated that of the 153 recommendations it had received, it would:

  • accept 120 recommendations
  • partially accept 6 recommendations
  • note 27 recommendations

Among the noted recommendations were recommendations concerning the reform of the Trans Act and the ratification of ILO Convention no. 169.

As the representative of the national human rights institution, the HRC spoke at the session and thanked the Finnish government for engaging in open dialogue with civil society and independent human rights actors during the UPR process.

The HRC hopes that the government will actively commit to promoting the recommendations it accepted and utilise the second national action plan for promoting fundamental and human rights in the implementation.

With regard to the noted recommendations, the HRC drew particular attention to the reform of the Trans Act and again encouraged the government to remove the infertility requirement from the conditions of legal recognition of gender.

Read the Finnish Goverment's responses to the recommendations.

Read the HRC's oral statement.