Useful sources for researching human rights conditions include the reports generated by inter-governmental monitoring bodies, individual governments, and NGOs.
Universal Periodic Review
The process of Universal Periodic Review carried out by the UN Human Rights Council, aims to examine the human rights records each UN Member State every four years. The review of each State’s record involves the collection of information from UN bodies, the State, and civil society.
In addition to the relevant State’s report, the UPR is based on the Compilation of UN Information (which includes special procedures‘ and UN treaty bodies‘ reports on the country) and submissions by NGOs and other stakeholders (which form the basis of the Summary of Stakeholder’s Information presented to the Working Group). These original, full length submissions are available by clicking on the footnotes that appear next to the terms “Compilation of UN information” and “Summary of stakeholders’ information.” See the documents for each State’s review, organized by session or country, on the Documentation page (select the relevant session or country). The Working Group’s report and video of the discussion, where available, are also available on each country page.
Note that many countries have already undergone more than one review. To see the documents related to a prior review period, click on the link at the top of the documentation page for that country.
Annual Country Reports
For reports that are potentially more comprehensive and more current, see the following global annual reports, which are likely the most widely-cited sources regarding human rights conditions around the globe, and provide an overview of each country of concern:
- U.S. State Department: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
Other Country Reports
The regional human rights monitoring bodies publish reports on country conditions on a periodic or ad hoc basis:
- the African Commission on Human Rights issues concluding observations on periodic State Reports
- the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has published at least one Country Report on each COE Member State
- the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reports on conditions in the Americas and, in greater detail, in countries of particular concern in Chapter 4 of its Annual Reports, and also publishes Country Reports on special topics and in follow-up to its country visits
- The Inter-American Commission has published a variety of Thematic Reports on issues of regional concern.
- Search for UN treaty body documents including State reports and Concluding Observations/Comments on State reports, by convention or country. These documents are useful for identifying human rights conditions in a given country, in the thematic areas covered by the treaty bodies.
- Use the Universal Human Rights Index to search by keyword, State, or mechanism for documents prepared by UN special procedures or treaty bodies or through the Universal Periodic Review.
- The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights provides a list of human rights issues with links to descriptive information and to the websites of the UN entities involved in each issue.
- The U.S. State Department also puts out a Report on International Religious Freedom and Trafficking in Persons Report.
- Refworld collects reports and press releases relating to human rights conditions in countries around the world.
- The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada compiles information – by country – on human rights conditions and other legal and factual resources relevant to asylum determinations in its National Documentation Packages.
- Amnesty International indexes its many reports by topic here.
- Human Rights Watch publications are also available for download.
- the International Committee of the Red Cross summarizes country conditions in the countries in which it operates, in its annual Annual Reports.