Universal Periodic Review (UPR): Sweden receives recommendations to improve its human rights record from fellow UN Member States

29 Sep 2020

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground in each of the 193 United Nations (UN) Member States. It is a well-established instrument in the work to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law. States are reviewed every 5 years and the reviews are conducted at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

On 27 January, it was Sweden's turn to be reviewed within the framework of the third cycle of the UPR. For the first time, the Swedish delegation was led by a Minister, namely Åsa Lindhagen, Minister for Gender Equality, with responsibility for anti-discrimination and anti-segregation. In her delegation, she had experts from the Ministry of Employment, Ministry of Justice, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation and the Permanent Mission of Sweden in Geneva

The UPR is a State-driven process. The State under review presents, based on its national report, actions taken since its last review to respect, protect and promote human rights and to fulfil its human rights obligations. States are then invited to give new recommendations to the State under review on how to further improve the human rights situation in the country.

The recommendations given by States usually cover a wide range of human rights issues and are often based on information provided by the State under review in its national report (national report submitted by Sweden), information from various UN agencies, special procedures and treaty bodies, information submitted by civil society organizations, or information received through embassies.

During its review, Sweden received 300 recommendations from 117 States. The most common recurring recommendations focused on the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution in line with the Paris Principles; measures to combat discrimination and segregation and to promote integration of newly arrived immigrants; measures to combat racism and hate crime; measures for gender equality and to prevent men's violence against women; measures for the rights of the child; and measures for the rights of indigenous peoples and national minorities.

When the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Sweden was adopted on 30 January – a report which provides an overview of all recommendations - Ambassador Veronika Bard, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN in Geneva, thanked all States that participated in the review and emphasized that the UPR process is of great importance to Sweden and that we firmly believe that it contributes to concrete improvements in human rights, in Sweden and abroad.

After the review, the Swedish Government Offices initiated a thorough process of assessing all 300 recommendations. States can support or note recommendations received during the review; they cannot reject them. Sweden communicate its response to each recommendation in writing to the Human Rights Council in advance of the adoption of the final report at the Council's session in June. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the adoption of the final report was however moved to the Council's September session.

The Swedish Government's overall approach when considering the recommendations received was to accept recommendations where the Government could foresee measures before the next review, or where measures had already been or were being implemented. The Swedish Government accepted 214 recommendations, partially accepted 1 recommendation and noted 85 recommendations.

At today's adoption of the final report, Ambassador Anna Jardfelt, newly arrived Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN in Geneva, stressed that promoting and respecting universal human rights is a core value and a central priority for the Swedish Government. It is also a cornerstone of Swedish foreign policy. Ambassador Jardfelt also thanked all the States that participated in the review of Sweden for their valuable input. Dialogue, as well as regular and constructive scrutiny, contributes to furthering the values which our society is based on.

Last updated 29 Sep 2020, 9.15 AM