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Reports that assess the human rights practices of specific countries and monitor their compliance with particular human rights treaties have proliferated in recent years. They include reports issued by UN charter bodies and treaty bodies, as well as reports issued by regional inter-governmental organizations. They also include self-assessment submitted by national governments and critiques issued by non-governmental organizations. In addition, the U.S. State Department regularly issues reports assessing the human rights records of foreign governments.
Country monitoring reports typically contain detailed information about human rights abuses, such as systemic gender inequality; the mistreatment of ethnic, racial, and religious minorities; human trafficking; extra-judicial killings; and forced disappearances, among many others. Activists and practitioners often rely on country monitoring reports when representing clients in asylum, immigration, and other administrative and court proceedings. The best resources for locating these reports are described below. For additional guidance, consult the Georgetown Law Library's CALS Asylum Case Research Guide.
Reports Issued by and Submitted to UN Charter Bodies & Treaty Bodies
- Universal Periodic Review - Documentation by Country
Documentation related to the Human Rights Council's universal periodic review of UN member states' human rights practices is available for download in PDF format. For each review cycle, you will find 1) the national report submitted by the member state; 2) a compilation of information submitted by UN entities; 3) a summary of input received from stakeholders (NGOs and civil society organizations); and 4) the outcome of the review.
- Treaty Body Database
This database is the most comprehensive resource for retrieving state party reports issued by the treaty bodies that monitor compliance with the UN's core human rights treaties. Related documents, including responses from state parties and submissions by NGOs, also are included. Use the pre-search filters to select the desired state party, treaty body, document type, and date range (if desired).
Reports Issued by and Submitted to Regional Inter-Governmental Organizations
- African Commission on Human & Peoples' Rights - State Reporting
Click on the name of a member state of the African Union to access initial and periodic reports submitted by the member state to the Commission, as well as the concluding observations and recommendations (if any) issued by the Commission in response to each report.
- Inter-American Commission on Human Rights - Country Reports
The Commission issues between one and four country reports per year. Reports are listed in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent. Reports from 2005 onward are available for download. Earlier reports may be viewed in a Web browser.
- The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights - Country Monitoring
Begin by selecting a jurisdiction from the list of Council of Europe member states. For each jurisdiction, a list of reports prepared by the Commissioner and related documentation will be displayed in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent. Most documents are available for download in PDF format.
Reports Issued by Non-Governmental Organizations
The broadest, most inclusive online database for retrieving country-specific reports issued by human rights NGOs is RefWord, which is described below. Bear in mind that not all such reports are available on RefWorld. Current reports are often available for download from NGO websites. Older reports may be available in print from academic and research libraries.
This free UN database is an excellent source for locating country-specific reports submitted by human rights NGOs to various UN entities. Use the Country of Origin menu to select the country that is the subject of the report. Be sure to select "country report" from the Document Type menu. To limit searches to reports issued by a particular NGO, select the name of the NGO from the Publisher menu.
- Selected Non-Governmental Organization Websites
Many human rights NGOs that publish country-specific reports make them available for download from their respective websites. Listed below are links for accessing country-specific research from three of the most prominent international human rights NGOs.
- Worldwide NGO Directory
Use this online directory to help you identify other human rights NGOs that publish country-specific research. Browse by region or search by keyword and use the filters to limit by region or by country or by area of focus.
- Locating Older NGO Country Reports in Print
If you are conducting historical research, or are reviewing a country's human rights record over time, you may need to consult older reports issued by NGOs, which may be difficult to access online. Some older reports are available in print from academic and research libraries. Use the tools described below to locate them.
- Georgetown Law Library Catalog
The library's collection includes more than a thousand country reports published by human rights NGOs in print from the mid 1970s until approximately 2008. The majority of these reports were issued by Amnesty International, but reports from other NGOs also are represented.
This universal catalog includes records from libraries around the world. If the report you are seeking is not available in print at the Georgetown Law Library, search WorldCat to see if it is available elsewhere. If so, you may request the report via inter-library loan.
Reports Issued by the U.S. State Department
- Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
The State Department prepares this annual report to Congress in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trade Act of 1974. Reports are grouped by region and arranged alphabetically by country within each region.
- International Religious Freedom Report (1999-current)
This annual survey, compiled pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, highlights practices of foreign governments that violate the religious beliefs of individuals and groups, as well as U.S. efforts to promote religious freedom around the world. Electronic access via the State Department website.
- Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report (2001-current)
This annual survey, compiled pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, assess efforts by foreign governments to combat the trafficking of adults and children for forced labor or sexual exploitation. Electronic access via the State Department website.