African States: Themes Emerging from the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review
This article examines the themes emerging from the engagement of African states with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanisms of the UN Human Rights Council. The underlying principles of universality, cooperation and dialogue that guide the review have given African states a renewed sense of engagement with the international human rights institution. Despite the universality of the process, regionalism and cultural relativism are important aspects in the engagement of African states with the UPR mechanism. This article considers the extent to which regionalism and cultural relativism may prevent UPR from acting as an effective mechanism for human rights enforcement. It examines the potential for UPR to complement other national, regional and international human rights mechanisms, and the danger of state ritualism. These have ramifications for the extent to which UPR can achieve its goal of improving the human rights situation on the ground in Africa.