Optimizing the UN Treaty Body System

Cover page of the publication Cover page of the publication

7 May 2018

Our new publication Optimizing the UN Treaty Body System outlines a series of recommendations related to the functioning of United Nations (UN) treaty bodies (TBs), considered a cornerstone of universal human rights protection.

To prepare for the upcoming review of UN TBs by the UN General Assembly, set for 2020, the publication provides detailed and innovative solutions for optimizing the system. ‘While the last words will remain with states and TBs members, this report can provide a basis for negotiations and the blueprint for future changes’ underlines Felix Kirchmeier, Manager of Policy Studies at the Geneva Academy and co-coordinator of the Academic Platform on Treaty Body Review 2020.

Academic Input to the Review

This work is the outcome of a three-year consultative process coordinated by the Geneva Academy – the Academic Platform on Treaty Body Review 2020 – to collect academic inputs and ideas for the 2020 review via the creation of an academic network of independent researchers, a call for papers, a series of regional consultations, annual and expert conferences, as well as ongoing interactions with key stakeholders: states, treaty bodies, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other parts of the UN.

Key academic partners contributed to this process, including Columbia University, University Paris 2 Pantheon-Assas the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, the Inter-American Social Responsibility and Human Rights Institute, the Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation, the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, University College Dublin, University of Nairobi, Strathmore Law School, South Asian University and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

‘It was important for us to provide an independent approach, grounded in academic research and free from vested interests and institutional limitations’ stresses Robert Kolb, Professor at the University of Geneva and Academic Adviser to the Academic Platform on Treaty Body Review 2020.

‘The issue of TBs’ reform is almost as old as the system itself: many proposals that are on the table today were already formulated before. Our academic contribution takes these proposals out of their political context by analysing them, their relevance, their likelihood to be implemented and the possible need for updates’ adds Felix Kirchmeier.

A System ‘Fit For Purpose’

The final objective of the publication and of the entire process is to make the TB system ‘fit for purpose’ by outlining measures to optimize its functioning, effectiveness and efficiency while safeguarding its key protection role and maintaining the existing legal framework.

‘While the publication provides several detailed recommendations, we notably call for a consolidated state report and a single review, or a semi-consolidated state report and two clustered reviews; the implementation of incremental changes in the TBs working methods; and a consolidation of TBs’ structure in terms of membership, as well as financial and substantial support’ underlines Kamelia Kemileva, Executive Manager at the Geneva Academy and co-coordinator of the Academic Platform on Treaty Body Review 2020.

Further Research

This publication is not the end of the process. The Academic Platform on Treaty Body Review 2020, coordinated by the Geneva Academy, will continue to work and conduct research on issues that have not been examined yet, such as legal and strategic aspects related to individual communications addressed to TBs.

VIDEO

Optimizing the UN Treaty Bodies System

Felix Kirchmeier and Kamelia Kemileva present our new publication Optimizing the UN Treaty Bodies System which outlines a series of recommendations related to the functioning o United Nations treaty bodies, considered a cornerstone of universal #humanrights protection.

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