Treaty Body Review 2020 and Beyond

Started in January 2018

The United Nations (UN) human rights (HR) treaty bodies (TBs) are a central pillar of the international HR protection system. Since the establishment of the first UN TB in 1970, both treaty ratifications and the treaty body system have expanded significantly. While this has enhanced HR protection worldwide, it has also created complex challenges that affect the system and those who interact with it: states, national HR institutions, UN entities, civil society organizations, individual complainants and rights-holders at large.

THE 2020 REVIEW

On 9 April 2014, the UN General Assembly (GA) adopted a landmark resolution (A/RES/68/268) on strengthening the TB system, which envisages a review of the measures taken at GA level in 2020. This review represents an opportunity to further reflect on the TB system’s future and develop innovative proposals and solutions without weakening the HR protection that the system currently affords.

Providing Expert Inputs

The Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) contributes to this review process by providing expert input via different avenues, by facilitating dialogue on the review among various stakeholders, as well as by accompanying the development of a follow-up resolution to 68/268 in New York and in Geneva.

This contribution builds upon the three-year global project of the Academic Platform, which developed models to optimize the reporting and dialogue processes of TBs.

The GHRP has since refined the proposals, adding a calendar system to schedule clustered TB reviews optimally, and identified measures to update the Communication procedure.

Piloting the 2020 Recommendation and the Implementation of a Focused Review

In the report closing the 2020 Review process, the co-facilitators – Morocco and Switzerland – enumerate a number of avenues to implement recommendations that have surfaced in the review discussions.

These recommendations include:

  • Accelerating the digital shift
  • Setting up a digital case management system for individual communications and urgent actions
  • An open and transparent web-based electoral platform to evaluate the merits of treaty body candidates
  • Rationalized, harmonized and modern working methods
  • An aligned methodology for the constructive dialogue between States parties and treaty bodies, as well as for concluding observations and follow-up recommendations and for stakeholder interaction
  • Making the simplified reporting procedure the default procedure
  • Establishing predictable review cycles,
  • Enhanced engagement or reviews in the regions, supporting also the idea of ‘focused reviews, which may consist of an in situ visit’

The GHRP contributed to many of these recommendations and will stimulate and pilot a number of them through 2021 and 2022, collaborating with interested states and stakeholders.

In particular, we will start fleshing out and piloting potential modalities for focused TB reviews.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Cover of the Book News

Our Research Fellow Dr. Zipoli contributes to new book on the Domestic Institutionalisation of Human Rights

25 August 2021

The new edited book on the The Domestic Institutionalisation of Human Rights (2021, Routledge) has just been published, our Research Fellow Dr. Domenico Zipoli contributes to this book project with a chapter on the engagement between TBs and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs).

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Aerial view of Manila News

The GHRP Reiterates the Importance of Conducting Focused Reviews in Regions

14 June 2021

At the online meeting of the Chairpersons of UN human rights treaty bodies, the Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform reiterated the importance of conducting dialogues with state parties concerning their reports at the national or regional level.

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Room of the UN Human Rights Committee, palais Wilson, Geneva News

An Insider’s View on UN Treaty Bodies in 2020

8 June 2021

In our new Working Paper The United Nations Treaty Bodies in a Transition Period – Progress Review, Professor Olivier de Frouville shares his own views on the work of UN treaty bodies during the period running from March to December 2020.

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TEAM

Picture of Felix Kirchmeier

Felix Kirchmeier

Manager of Policy Studies and Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

Felix Kirchmeier oversees the conceptualization, development and implementation of policy research at the Geneva Academy. He is also the Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

Picture of Domenico Zipoli

Domenico Zipoli

Research Fellow, Geneva Human Rights Platform

His research focuses on the question of connectivity among international human rights mechanisms and on national strategies for monitoring, implementation and follow-up of international human rights obligations and recommendations.

Picture of Kamelia Kemileva

Kamelia Kemileva

OUTPUT

 Regular Briefings in Geneva and New York

Regular briefings in Geneva and New York with and for various stakeholders – diplomats, civil society organizations, members of UN TB and experts – allow to discuss and finetune positions towards the 2020 review.

In Geneva, the Geneva Academy Fridays – monthly briefings for Geneva-based diplomats in charge of human rights –  allowed to discuss topical issues related to the 2020 Review and provided to the diplomatic community updates on academic findings on the functioning of the UN human rights mechanisms and bodies.

Guidance to Improve the UN Human Rights Individual Complaints Mechanism

The publication Treaty Bodies’ Individual Communication Procedures: Providing Redress and Reparation to Victims of Human Rights Violations addresses the handling of individual communications, tackles efficiency questions related to this procedure and outlines a series of key recommendations to improve the system, including the creation of a registry to provide substantive legal support to UN treaty bodies.

An Efficient Tool to Implement UN Treaty Bodies’ Recommendations

At an expert conference co-organized with the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights on 18–19 September 2019, UN TB experts, academics, national and international NGOs and governmental representatives discussed the implementation of a new mechanism aimed at improving the work of UN TBs, the TRIP: Technical Review of Implementation Progress.

Learning from the Universal Periodic Review

The UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) has brought new life into the measures taken at the international and national levels to hold states accountable to their international human rights law obligations. The UPR has also generated a number of new initiatives at national levels to implement recommendations emanating from the UPR process. The Research Brief The Universal Periodic Review Mid-Term Reporting Process: Lessons for the Treaty Bodies attempts to draw lessons from the UPR mid-term reporting process that can assist TBs in improving the impact of their work at the national level.

A New Tool to Optimize the Planning of Treaty Bodies Sessions

 The ‘Treaty Body Scheduler’ is a new tool that allows planning, in the context of a consolidated report and clustered dialogue, the best schedules for TBs sessions. While the duration of TBs sessions would remain approximately the same, the schedules developed by this tool would allow delegations to reduce their travels to Geneva. This type of organization would also promote greater interactions between Committees’ members as they would be in session simultaneously.

The Academic Platform on Treaty Body Review 2020

The Geneva Academy coordinated a major project aiming at providing academic input to the 2020 review of UN treaty bodies by the UN General Assembly. This project, which ran from 2015 to 2018 and involved more than 300 academic partners and experts, developed key recommendations to improve the work of UN TBs, many of which have been supported by states. Several states across all continents and regional groups, as well as NGOs, experts and members of UN TBs have endorsed a number of these recommendations.

Publications

cover of the publication

The United Nations Treaty Bodies in a Transition Period – Progress Review March-December 2020 Chronicle

June 2021

Olivier de Frouville

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights; Paris Human Rights Center

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Cover page of the Research Brief

The Universal Periodic Review Mid-Term Reporting Process: Lessons for the Treaty Bodies

November 2019

Miloon Kothari

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover page of the publication

Treaty Bodies’ Individual Communication Procedures: Providing Redress and Reparation to Victims of Human Rights Violations

May 2019

Claire Callejon, Kamelia Kemileva, Felix Kirchmeier

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover page of the publication

Optimizing the UN Treaty Body System

May 2018

Domenico Zipoli, Felix Kirchmeier, Kamelia Kemileva, Claire Callejon

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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The GHRP Reiterates the Importance of Conducting Focused Reviews in Regions

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At the online meeting of the Chairpersons of UN human rights treaty bodies, the Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform reiterated the importance of conducting dialogues with state parties concerning their reports at the national or regional level.

Read more

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