Everything You Need to Know About UPR 36

Published on November 26, 2020

The 36th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was held in Geneva, from November 2 to November 13, 2020.

Fourteen countries were reviewed during UPR36: Andorra, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Panama, and the United States 

Adoption of UPR Outcomes: March 2021

The UPR outcome for each State reviewed during UPR36 will be adopted at the 46th session of the HRC (March 2021). The outcome report indicates which recommendations the State agrees to implement and its responses to other recommendations. This is the only opportunity for civil society to make an oral statement during the official UPR process. The SRI, in collaboration with partners and allies, will work to ensure that sexual and reproductive rights are visible during this segment of the UPR process.

The intervening period is an opportunity to engage in dialogue with States on accepting relevant recommendations – and, at the same time, not accepting those recommendations that are inconsistent with human rights norms and standards. It is also a means for gaining the support of media and the general public.

Below are some sexual rights related highlights from each UPR36 review. Click here for the full list of recommendations made related to sexual rights, including State responses to date. 

Explainer on Terminology

  • Accepted Recommendation: State agrees to implement the recommendation
  • Deferred Recommendation: State will announce in September if it agrees to implement the recommendation
  • Noted Recommendation: State does not agree to implement the recommendation

Click here for the full list of UPR36 Sexual Rights Recommendations


Deferred recommendations:

  • Legalise and facilitate access to voluntary interruption of pregnancy for reasons of rape, incest and when the health of the mother is at risk with the subsequent amendment of Article 08 of the Criminal Code. (Mexico)
  • Amend domestic legislation to protect women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. (United Kingdom)
  • Guarantee rights in the area of sexual and reproductive health by providing access without obstacles to information, education and services on sexual and reproductive health, ensuring that persons in this sector can work without fear of reprisals. (Luxembourg)


Deferred recommendations:

  • Combat discrimination and violence on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and draft specific legislation for the training of law enforcement officers and other officials to avoid discriminatory acts against LGBTI persons. (Mexico)
  • Repeal laws and policies on mandatory testing for HIV, policies requiring health-care providers to report certain groups to law enforcement, and criminalization of HIV transmission. (Iceland)
  • Continue to conduct education and awareness-raising programmes on the importance of family planning. (Maldives)
  • Conduct awareness raising campaigns and educational events aimed at eradicating sexist stereotypes. (Burundi)


Deferred recommendations:

  • Strengthen the protection of the rights of LGBTI persons, inter alia by including sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for hate crimes; recognise civil partnerships of same-sex couples; and ban non-consensual surgeries on intersex persons. (Portugal)
  • Ensure unhindered access to sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents. (Luxembourg)
  • Implement the commitment undertaken at the Nairobi Conference, to guarantee safe motherhood for all women, including those who do not have health insurance, and access to health services during pregnancy and childbirth. (Costa Rica)
  • Invest in high-quality health-care services, including for sexual and reproductive health, as well as in health technologies for early diagnostics and prevention. (Iceland)
  • Amend its Criminal Code to include marital rape and domestic violence as specific crimes and ensure the definition of rape is fully in line with international standards. (Ireland)
  • Adopt targeted measures to combat intersecting forms of discrimination against Roma women and girls, including with regard to access to education, employment, health care, housing and other social services. (Croatia)


Deferred recommendations:

  • Take steps to combat stereotypes and prejudice against LGBTI people, including launching awareness-raising campaigns and training of public officials. (Israel)
  • Take measures to ensure that comprehensive and age-appropriate education on sexuality and reproductive health and rights is systematically integrated into school curricula. (Fiji)
  • Take appropriate measures to guarantee women’s access to legal and safe abortion in order that, for example, the doctors’ refusal to perform abortions based on religious beliefs does not limit the right to sexual and reproductive health of women, or that the procedure is covered by the national social security system and/or its costs are affordable for all women, regardless of their socio-economic situation. (Spain)
  • Continue to expand training on gender equality and gender-based violence for police officials, civil servants and court officials to enhance their understanding of applicable international and EU standards and ensure their consistent application across sectors. (Malta)
  • Adopt effective measures to combat the wage gap and gender violence, sexual harassment and rape; ensure the timely management of complaints, access to justice and reparation for victims. (Venezuela)


Deferred recommendations:

  • Pass legislation regulating sex work to limit or prevent the ill-treatment and discrimination of sex workers (Marshall Islands)
  • Lift the ban on the use of Emergency Contraceptive Pills, currently prohibited, even in cases of rape. (Iceland)
  • Ensure that all women and girls have information and access to sexual and reproductive health services, including access to contraceptives and to legal and safe abortion, especially in cases of rape, incest or risks to the health and life of the woman. (Mexico)
  • Decriminalize abortion in all circumstances and remove legal, administrative and practical barriers to accessing safe and legal abortion services. (Iceland)
  • Prioritise steps to combat the widespread rape and sexual exploitation of women and girls by gangs. Build institutional capacity for the protection of victims, through strengthening measures to proactively identify victims and refer them to appropriate support services. (United Kingdom)


Accepted recommendations:

  • Remove the existing restrictive conditions to determining marital rape in the Offences Against the Person Act. (Greece)
  • Continue implementing the Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy, emphasising actions for adolescents and young people, and with a comprehensive approach that encompasses the prevention and treatment of all sexually transmitted diseases. (Cuba)
  • Amend the Sexual Offences Act with a view to criminalizing all forms of marital rape and implement effectively the Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Gender-based Violence, guaranteeing due reporting, investigation and prosecution of gender-based violence, particularly domestic and sexual violence, abuse and harassment. (Portugal)

Deferred recommendations:

  • Enact a comprehensive anti-discrimination law to prohibit all forms of discrimination, namely on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability and health status. (Portugal)
  • Proceed to amend the Abortion Act which has unfortunately led to widespread criminalization of abortion. (Togo)
  • Amend the Sexual Offences Act to provide immunity for medical professionals against prosecution for aiding a child sex offence, for bona fide action taken with sexually active adolescents below 16 years to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, to protect the child’s physical safety or emotional well-being.         (Slovenia)


Deferred recommendations:

  • Criminalize all forms of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), without exception, in accordance with the Maputo Protocol and provide victims with access to justice, psychological support and sexual and reproductive health services. (Panama)
  • Strengthen measures to end spousal and marital rape. (Canada)
  • Increase the delivery of sexual and reproductive health services and commodities, including through family planning outreach and community-based distribution of modern family planning commodities. (Iceland)
  • Take measures to ensure and expand women’s and girls’ access to safe and legal abortion. (Sweden)
  • Strengthen measures to safeguard the rights of women and girls, particularly in the areas of maternal, sexual and reproductive health, and healthcare for people living with HIV/AIDS. (Lesotho)
  • Promote the enrolment and the retention in schools of girls and adolescents and to facilitate access to sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception. (Mexico)


Deferred recommendations:

  • Lift all reservations to the CEDAW. (Greece)
  • Investigate all reports on human rights violations committed against Libyans as well as refugees and migrants, that include, but not limited to, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, unlawful killing, forced displacement, attacks against civilians and civilian objects and cases of sexual violence and abuses against women and girls and bring the perpetrators to justice. (Poland)
  • Repeal the provisions of the Personal Status which discriminate against women regarding marriage, divorce, inheritance and transmission of nationality. (Spain)
  • Amend laws and legislation to ensure they do not discriminate against women and criminalize violence against women and ensure that those who committed such violence are held to account. (Australia)


Accepted recommendations:

  • Finalize the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act to include internationally recognized definitions of sexual harassment, intimate partner violence and forced sex/marital rape. (Iceland)
  • Take steps to provide better access to health care and to improve the reproductive health care system, in line with SDG 3. (Mauritius)


  • Criminalize marital rape. (Latvia)
  • Improve access to adequate sexual and reproductive health services, in particular to antenatal, delivery and postnatal services. (Fiji)
  • Increase support for reproductive health and family planning services and access to affordable contraceptives and contraceptive methods. (Germany)
  • Provide comprehensive sexuality education as part of the school curriculum. (Denmark)


Deferred recommendations:

  • Adopt specific legislation to criminalize marital rape without any exemptions and undertake legislative reforms to prevent domestic violence against women. (Germany)
  • Continue its efforts regarding sexual and reproductive health services with the focus on ensuring accessibility for all, including women and girls, in particular rural women, to all health services. (State of Palestine)
  • Address the large decline in the use of contraceptives by improving data collection on sexual and reproductive health and abortion expenses for future planning. (Iceland)
  • Guarantee that access to information, sexual and reproductive health services and planning services include single men and women and people under the age of 18. (Mexico)
  • Provide comprehensive sexuality education as part of the school curriculum. (Denmark)

Marshall Islands

Deferred recommendations:

  • Pass and implement laws that would recognize same-sex partnerships and define the rights and obligations of co-habiting couples in same-sex unions. (Iceland)
  • Fully implement the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Strategy and ensure that comprehensive sexuality education is systematically integrated into the family health education curriculum, to combat the high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy amongst adolescents. (Iceland)
  • Review, update and strengthen access to family planning commodities, information and services, including updating the Reproductive Health Policy, which expired in 2018. (Slovenia)
  • Further to the 2019 Gender Equality Act, adopt a comprehensive definition of discrimination against women, in line with article 1 of the CEDAW. (Cyprus)
  • Urgently address patriarchal norms to affirm women’s rights. (South Africa)


Deferred recommendations:

  • Abolish the requirements from the Civil Registration Law of Mongolia, Article 14, for medical interventions for transgender and intersex people who wish to obtain legal recognition of their gender. (Israel)
  • Integrate age-appropriate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights into school curricula. (Fiji)
  • Protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, including those with disabilities, by ensuring their access to sexual and reproductive health information, commodities and services, and halt the practice of coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization. (Iceland)
  • Ensure access for all women to information and services on sexual and reproductive health, and family planning, as well as guarantee their free and informed consent, in all procedures. (Mexico)
  • Improve the rights of women and girls by removing requirements for virginity testing from clinical guidelines and medical standards. (Australia)

Noted recommendations:

  • Provide legal recognition and protection of same-sex couples by amending the Family Law. (Denmark)


Deferred recommendations:

  • Combat arbitrary treatment of as well as physical and psychological violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons by members of the security forces, adopt legislation to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity and punish those who practice such discrimination. (Germany)
  • Redouble efforts towards the reduction of adolescent pregnancies, especially for girls between 10 and 14 years old, through the implementation of a strengthened program of comprehensive sexuality education. (Belgium)
  • Ensure access of women and girls to sexual and reproductive rights and health, including by decriminalizing abortion. (France)
  • Take measures to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health for all people, including the removal of legal obstacles and the development and implementation of policies, good practices and normative frameworks that respect the dignity, integrity and the right to bodily autonomy. (Mexico)
  • Adopt and implement curricula on age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education, including information about issues of violence that is provided throughout schooling. (Iceland)
  • Enact a comprehensive law to protect, respect and fulfil women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, and the adoption of an action plan for its implementation and monitoring. (Portugal)

United States

Deferred recommendations:

  • Lift funding restrictions on United States foreign assistance to promote women’s full access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. (Norway)
  • Clarify its approach to ensuring access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. (United Kingdom)
  • Ensure that laws permitting refusals of care based on religious and moral beliefs do not restrict women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, and that measures are put in place to monitor and prevent violations of these rights. (Australia)
  • Reverse policies inhibiting comprehensive and universal access to voluntary sexual and reproductive health services, especially in emergency situations, and end related restrictions on foreign assistance. (Austria)
  • Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health information, education and services for all. (Malaysia)
  • Repeal the Helms Amendment and the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy and, in the interim, allow U.S. foreign assistance to at a minimum be used for safe abortion in the cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment. (Netherlands)

Click here for the full list of UPR36 Sexual Rights Recommendations