Call For Contributions/ NGO Input: UN Human Rights Treaty Body System
NGO's /Civil Society access to and engagement with the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies is highly significant for gender advocacy at the United Nations and beyond. The opportunities provided by the Treaty Bodies enable NGO's to participate and have a voice regarding the Treaty Body Committee reviews of countries/Member States. The Seoul Statement on Strengthening the UN Treaty Body System is open to endorsement...
Endorse by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org . IWRAW AP - International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific - was involved with the drafting of the Seoul Statement and has asked that endorsement communications also please copy IWRAW AP - email@example.com.
Link to SEOUL STATEMENT outcome of this Consultation:
UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies
Monitoring the core international human rights treaties
What are the treaty bodies?
The human rights treaty bodies are committees of independent experts that monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties. They are created in accordance with the provisions of the treaty that they monitor.
There are nine human rights treaty bodies and the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT):
The Human Rights Committee (CCPR) monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and its optional protocols;
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966);
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) monitors implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965);
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) and its optional protocol (1999);
The Committee Against Torture (CAT) monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (1984);
The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and its optional protocols (2000); and
The Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) monitors implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990).
The Committee on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) monitors implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006).
The Committee on Enforced Disappearance (CED) monitors implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (2006)
Each treaty body receives secretariat support from the Human Rights Treaties Branch of OHCHR in Geneva. CEDAW, which was suppported until 31 December 2007 by the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), meets once a year in New York at United Nations Headquarters. Similarly, the Human Rights Committee usually holds its session in March/April in New York. The other treaty bodies meet in Geneva, either at Palais Wilson or Palais des Nations.
What do the treaty bodies do?
The treaty bodies perform a number of functions in accordance with the provisions of the treaties that created them. These include:
They also publish general comments on the treaties and organize discussions on related themes.
Consideration of State parties' reports
When a country ratifies one of these treaties, it assumes a legal obligation to implement the rights recognized in that treaty. But signing up is only the first step, because recognition of rights on paper is not sufficient to guarantee that they will be enjoyed in practice. So the country incurs an additional obligation to submit regular reports to the monitoring committee set up under that treaty on how the rights are being implemented. This system of human rights monitoring is common to most of the UN human rights treaties.
To meet their reporting obligation, States must report submit an initial report usually one year after joining (two years in the case of the CRC) and then periodically in accordance with the provisions of the treaty (usually every four or five years). In addition to the government report, the treaty bodies may receive information on a country’s human rights situation from other sources, including non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, other intergovernmental organizations, academic institutions and the press. In the light of all the information available, the Committee examines the report together with government representatives. Based on this dialogue, the Committee publishes its concerns and recommendations, referred to as “concluding observations”.
Consideration of individual complaints or communications
In addition to the reporting procedure, some of the treaty bodies may perform additional monitoring functions through three other mechanisms: the inquiry procedure, the examination of inter-state complaints and the examination of individual complaints.
Four of the Committees (CCPR, CERD, CAT and CEDAW) can, under certain conditions, receive petitions from individuals who claim that their rights under the treaties have been violated. More information.
The Committees also publish their interpretation of the content of human rights provisions, known as general comments on thematic issues or methods of work.
Meeting of chairpersons and inter-committee meeting
The treaty bodies coordinate their activities through the annual meeting of chairpersons of human rights treaty bodies and through the inter-committee meeting. More information.
The treaty body are continually seeking ways to enhance their effectiveness through streamlining and harmonization of working methods and practices. More information on treaty body reform.
For a comprehensive overview of the United Nations human rights treaty system, download OHCHR Fact Sheet 30 here.