Understanding the principle UN international human rights evaluation tool and how the process works.

 (Updated in December 2017)

What is UPR?

Approximately every four and a half years all the UN member states have to report to the other countries on what has been done to ensure the rights of their citizens. It is a hearing on human rights conditions that takes place at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. Find out why the UPR is the principal UN human rights evaluation tool and how the process works:

Brazil in the dock

On 5 May 2017 Brazil will undergo its third review since the UPR was created by the UN. On this occasion, the other Member States will make recommendations to the country based on three documents:

Contributions by Conectas

Conectas was among the civil society organisations that sent contributions to the UN on the main human rights challenges faced in Brazil. The organisation participated, along with other institutions, in eight of the 53 reports received by the UN on the country. To read these reports (in English):

See also: Conectas’ criticisms of the official report from Brazil


The UPR concludes when the other Member States have made their recommendations to Brazil on improving human rights conditions at home. The country can accept or reject the recommendations. Conectas considers 15 of these recommendations to be the most urgent ones for Brazil and these fall within the following themes:

  1. Business, human rights, developmental law and environmental problems
    • To establish norms for public banks – in particular the BNDES (The National Economic and Social Development Bank), public pension funds and other state development agencies – to evaluate their investments based on the potential impacts these may have on human rights and to implement an independent apparatus for complaints and proper ombudsmen for the needs of the communities affected and provide full compensation.
    • Brazil should abstain from funding economic development projects that violate the rights of traditional people, indigenous people and workers and that damage the environment and should guarantee effective compensation with significant consultation of the communities affected.
  2. Right to work and fair, favourable working conditions
    • The Brazilian state should demand that public banks institute policies to prevent concession of financial support to employers who use slave labour and impose the inclusion of the employer on the ‘Black List’ for slave labour.
    • Brazil should also regulate Constitutional Amendment 81/2014, allowing the apprehension of land and properties where workers are submitted to slave labour-like conditions. This ruling should not minimize the concept of slave labour.
  3. Right to work and to fair, favourable working conditions
    • Abolish all statutes and initiatives that undermine the rights of indigenous people and vulnerable groups. The Brazilian state should abstain from reversing the rights of vulnerable groups, the rights of indigenous people and of the environmental licencing process. These apparatus and rights should be fully respected, protected and fulfilled.
  4. Right to social security and an adequate standard of living
    • Monitor continuously and adopt actions that ensure that austerity measures do not have a negative impact on economic, social and cultural rights, especially the right to adequate housing, health, food and education.
  5. Freedom of association and peaceful assembly
    • Revoke Law nº 13.260 so that its vague definitions of terrorism cannot be used to criminalise someone exercising their legitimate right to freedom of assembly.
    • Take measures to provide a safe, respectful and suitable environment for civil society, including the removal of legal and political measures that unjustifiably limit the right to association. This includes appropriate management of protests, as proposed in the accompanying report A/HRC/31/66 by the UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom to peaceful assembly and on extrajudicial executions, the immediate investigation of police abuse following protests and the implementation of strict, transparent control of non-deadly weapons.
  6. Migrants and refugees
    • Bring immigration legislation into line with international human rights norms, revoking the Foreigners’ Statute (Lei Federal 8.615) and seeking rapid approval by the National Congress of a new migration law based on a human rights perspective and which follows the principles of (A) non-discrimination, irrespective of migratory status; (B) non-criminalisation of migration, including the principle of not detaining migrants for reasons related to their migratory status; (C) establishing effective, accessible procedures for legalisation of migration as an obligation of the state and a migrant’s right and (D) The right to access to justice and to a proper legal process.
    • Ensure the correct legal process for migrants who find themselves in areas of retention or detainment of people who have been refused admission or have been prevented from taking their connecting flights, in Brazilian airports, including notification of the National Public Defender’s office of all cases within a maximum of 24 hours.
  7. Legal Administration, including impunity and rule of law
    • Reject the proposal of a constitutional amendment that is in progress in Congress to reduce the legal age and increase the detention period for minors.
    • Revise the current national policy on drugs (law 11.343/06) and take measures towards the decriminalisation of all drugs as a way of reducing mass incarceration rates in Brazil.
    • Urgent approval of laws 7.764/14 e 3.832/15 prohibiting the use of invasive searches in units for both adults and young people and ensure effective implementation of these laws.
    • Establish measures to drastically reduce mass incarceration rates with the application of Law 12.403/11 on Precautionary Measures and ensure continuity and improvement in data collection on the prison system to ensure a nationwide diagnosis of the conditions of deprivation of freedom in Brazil and gain a deeper understanding of the prison system.
    • Fully implement nationwide custody hearings as a way of preventing torture and mass incarceration. Judges and public prosecutors working on custody hearings should undergo specific training, in line with the Istanbul Protocol.
    • Restructure the military police. There is an urgent need to restructure the model of the military police that still sees citizens as potential enemies to be fought. This structural reform should be guided by the following principles: full cycle, in which ostensive and investigative policing should be carried out by the same police force; police force should be made up of civilians; single career and the implementation of independent ombudsmen.

Current recommendations

During the third review in May 2017, Brazil received 246 recommendations from the other UN Member States, of which only four were rejected. The Brazilian government presented its justifications for rejection during the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council, on 21 September 2017.

Direct to the source

  • UN – the third cycle of the UPR Brazil: an internet page with full information on UPR Brazil process. Access official reports and recommendations from other countries during the third review cycle.
  • UPR Brazil: in 2016, the  Brazilian Commission on Human Rights and Foreign Policy, in which Conectas participated, held workshops for civil society organisations on how to participate in the UPR by producing reports to oppose official government information. It also maintains a site with information on the review process.
  • UPR Info:  hosted in Geneva, created to increase civil society participation in the process of reviewing human rights in all the UN Member States. The site provides articles and information on the apparatus.

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