Universal Periodic Review 2022: Scottish Government Position Statement

This position statement sets out the action we've taken in devolved areas since 2017 to respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights of everyone in Scotland.

The UPR Process

This section explains the overall Universal Periodic Review (“UPR”) process, the Scottish Government’s contribution to the UK’s participation in that process as the UN Member State, and the intention behind this position statement as an additional and supplementary means of scrutinising the Scottish Government’s human rights record.

The UPR is a review of the overall human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR process is coordinated by the UN Human Rights Council (“UNHRC”), which is composed of 47 elected UN Member States.

The UPR provides an opportunity for the Member State under review to declare the actions they have taken to improve the implementation of the full range of international human rights treaties to which they are a State Party. It takes place in addition to the individual review processes undertaken by subject-specific treaty bodies, which look in more specific detail at States’ performance against obligations set out in individual human rights treaties (see Annex A).

The UPR process centres around an interactive dialogue between representatives of the Member State under review and Member State representatives on the UNHRC. The interactive dialogue takes place every four-and-a-half years at the UNHRC’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

In advance of the interactive dialogue, the Member State under review should consult with civil society organisations, and submits to the UNHRC a report on its human rights progress since the start of its last UPR round. This report is known as the National Report. Civil society organisations and National Human Rights Institutions (“NHRIs”) can also submit their own “shadow reports” in advance of the interactive dialogue to draw the UNHRC’s attention to specific human rights issues within the Member State under review.

During the interactive dialogue, UN Member States can pose questions and make comments and recommendations to the Member State under review. Following the interactive dialogue, an Outcome Report is produced, consisting of the questions, comments and recommendations made during the session as well as the responses given by the Member State under review. The Member State under review should then formally respond to the recommendations, and subsequently provide periodic updates on the implementation of the recommendations it has accepted until the start of the next UPR round.

As part of the UK’s third and most recent UPR round, the UK produced a National Report in March 2017[1] and participated in an interactive dialogue in Geneva in May 2017[2]. In September 2017, the UK formally responded to the recommendations emerging from the interactive dialogue[3], and in August 2018[4] and January 2021[5] the UK provided updates on its implementation of the recommendations it had accepted. The Scottish Government contributed actively to the preparation of these documents and to the UK’s participation as the Member State in the interactive dialogue session to ensure that devolved matters were reflected appropriately throughout the process.

The documentation submitted to the UN is subject to strict word counts and must account for policy and activity across the four nations of the UK. For that reason, throughout the UK’s third UPR cycle, the Scottish Government also published a range of standalone position statements covering devolved matters:

  • one in April 2017 in advance of the UK’s interactive dialogue[6];
  • one in December 2017 responding to the recommendations emerging from the interactive dialogue[7];
  • one in January 2019 to provide an update on the Scottish Government’s implementation of specific recommendations[8].

The standalone position statements produced by the Scottish Government do not form part of the formal documentation submitted to the UN, and nor are they part of the formal reporting process. Rather, they are intended to assist the Scottish Parliament, civil society stakeholders, and other interested parties in engaging with treaty reporting processes and in scrutinising the Scottish Government’s human rights record. They can also be used informally by international institutions, including UN Special Rapporteurs (“UNSRs”) and treaty bodies.

To support the UK’s ongoing fourth UPR cycle, the Scottish Government and the UK Ministry of Justice jointly facilitated civil society engagement sessions in January 2022 to discuss issues of concern and interest to Scottish civil society organisations. The Scottish Government then contributed to the UK’s National Report which was published in August 2022[9]. This position statement is intended to supplement that National Report with more information on the action taken by the Scottish Government since 2017 to respect, protect and fulfil international human rights obligations in devolved areas in Scotland.

The interactive dialogue session for the UK’s fourth UPR cycle will take place in Geneva in November 2022. The Scottish Government will contribute to the UK’s participation in that session and will contribute to the UK’s response and follow-up to the recommendations. We will also seek to publish our own parallel response to the recommendations as we did in 2017.

More information on the UPR process can be found on the UNHRC’s website[10].


Email: ceu@gov.scot

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