Reviewing the human rights situation – Germany in the Human Rights Council’s UPR process

Article 1 of the Basic Law states that Human dignity shall be inviolable.

Article 1 of the Basic Law states that Human dignity shall be inviolable., © photothek.net

08.01.2024 - Article

The human rights situation in all United Nations Member States is regularly checked by means of the Universal Periodic Review process. On 9 November 2023, human rights in Germany were reviewed.

The UPR process

Respect for human rights is anchored in most countries’ constitutions throughout the world. However, a special process – the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council – checks whether a state does actually respect and implement human rights.

Every five years, each of the 193 United Nations Member States reports on the implementation of their human rights obligations. They also answer questions from other Member States and receive recommendations from them on how they can improve their human rights record.

By accepting the recommendations, the states undertake a commitment to take concrete steps to improve their human rights situation. Their record is then measured against these voluntary commitments in the future.

Benchmarks for the process

The benchmarks for the review are laid down in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all UN human rights conventions that a country has ratified.

Talks with civil society play an important role in the groundwork for the UPR. Members of civil society often have different insight into the actual human rights situation in individual countries and are an important source of information for the German Government’s recommendations to other countries.

During the drafting of their reports, the countries under review are called on to seek dialogue with civil society. Against this backdrop, Luise Amtsberg, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance, issued an invitation to representatives from Forum Menschenrechte and the German Institute for Human Rights prior to the review. In several rounds of talks with the Federal Government, they shared their ideas for and criticism of the human rights situation in Germany and how it was represented in the German UPR report.

Non-governmental organisations and national human rights institutions can provide the Human Rights Council with direct input in the course of the review process.

Germany under review

On 9 November 2023, Germany took part in this process for the fourth time. Previous reviews were conducted in 2008, 2013 and 2018. In the last cycle in 2018, Germany accepted 209 recommendations from other countries. In 2023, Germany’s UPR national report addressed the implementation of these recommendations and the current human rights situation in Germany.

The report is available on the website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Luise Amtsberg, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance, was the head of the German delegation, which presented the German UPR report on 9 November and responded to the recommendations of the international community. Delegations from the German Bundestag and civil society have also attended the presentation in Geneva.

The hearing is available via the United Nations stream.


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