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The Universal Periodic Review(UPR) was conceived to ensure the more equitable treatment of United Nations (UN) member states. As such, the UPR is a human rights mechanism uniquely favored by many member states, including the Islamic Republic of Iran. Indeed, Iran has stated that the UPR is the “most pertinent, effective and trustful UN mechanism for the review of the human rights situation of all States.” Iran’s approach to the UPR, however, raises questions about its level of commitment to the mechanism, as well as to upholding its international human rights obligations overall.

The UPR is a dynamic process through which any UN member state, as a peer, can propose recommendations to a “State under review” on how to best advance human rights in its respective country. Recommendations accepted by the state then become a framework for its promotion of human rights, as well as for stakeholders to dialogue with the state and measure its progress.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has thus far undergone two rounds of review and is amongst the top five states for the most recommendations received. During its second cycle of review, Iran received 291 recommendations, of which it accepted 130 recommendations in full and 59 in part. It outright rejected 102 recommendations. In contrast to the first cycle, Iran pulled away from pledging fully to recommendations that call for needed reforms. In effect, Iran regressed in its approach during the second cycle of the UPR and demonstrated three negative trends.