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The Universal Periodic Review process

A strategy to tackle health sector corruption

Corruption in the health sector is one of the main barriers to the attainment of the right to health, and significantly affects poor people living in low- and middle- income countries. The Universal Periodic Review process provides a new forum and tool for promoting anti-corruption measures, transparency, and accountability. Donors can contribute to enhancing its role and holding governments to account for violations of the right to health.

20 April 2021
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Main points

  • Corruption in the health sector deprives people of their basic right to health and is often a matter of life and death.
  • The impact of corruption becomes even more devastating in times of health crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. The demand for a rapid response results in governments making hasty decisions that lack transparency and oversight.
  • Human rights mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process offer a unique forum to address health sector corruption by holding governments accountable for their actions and inactions.
  • The UPR has significant potential for addressing corruption in the health sector, but remains largely underutilised. Currently, the issue is rarely discussed in reports, interactive dialogue, or recommendations that arise from the process.
  • Donors can play a crucial role in promoting effective use of the UPR to address health sector corruption, by elevating the issue and supporting stakeholders to implement and monitor the recommendations arising from the process.

Cite this publication

Sekalala, S.; Masud, H.; (2021) The Universal Periodic Review process. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Brief 2021:2)

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About the authors

Sharifah Sekalala

Sharifah Sekalala is an Associate Professor at the University of Warwick Law School.

Haleema Masud

Haleema Masud is a PhD Student at the University of Warwick Medical School.


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


health sector, Covid-19, human rights