Academic Platform on Treaty Body Review 2020

Started in May 2016


In 2020, the General Assembly will review its 2014 resolution on strengthening the treaty body system.  To prepare for that review, the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights has launched an academic research project to look at options for reform and long-term sustainability of the treaty body system.  The academic process is open to all relevant stakeholders, and I encourage all the academics in this audience to become involved. This is a key opportunity to help define the future of the Covenants and the treaty body system.

High Commissioner Zaid
Read more here.

The United Nations (UN) human rights (HR) treaty bodies are a central pillar of the international HR protection system. They prevent HR violations by warning states about areas of concern and by advising them on durable solutions that address root causes.

The 2020 Review

Since the establishment of the first UN treaty body 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.

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

Academic Contribution

The Geneva Academy is coordinating the academic input to this 2020 review via the creation of an academic network of independent researchers, a call for papers, a series of regional workshops, annual conferences in Geneva, as well as ongoing interactions with key stakeholders (i.e. states, UN treaty bodies, national HR institutions, civil society, UN entities and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – OHCHR).

Input to the project / Call for Papers

To allow the broadest possible participation of all stakeholders, we invite input to this research project.

All interested researchers, think tanks, institutions, organizations and individuals are invited to submit responses to research questions developed on the basis of General Assembly (GA) resolution 68/268, or additional areas of interest to the review, with the aim of generating the broadest possible range of ideas to enhance the effective functioning of the treaty body system.

Papers should be sent to tbreview2020[at] and will remain in the responsibility of and attributed to their authors.

It is important to note in this context that GA resolution 68/268 and the inter-governmental processes leading to its adoption examined the effective functioning of the treaty body system and did not include questions related to the implementation and impact of treaty bodies' recommendations at the national level. Despite the importance of these questions, the research questions will use the same parameters.

Project's Timeframe

  • Brainstorming meeting: December 2015
  • Outreach to academia; methodology: January 2016–March 2016
  • Call for papers: March 2016– July 2017
  • Regional consultations: April 2016–September 2017
  • Annual meetings in Geneva: 2016–2017
  • Drafting of an overview report detailing the research projects: 2017

Regional Consultations

We intend to hold the following eight regional consultations:

Western Europe 

Logo Dublin College

The regional consultation for western Europe was held in Dublin, Ireland, 7–8 July 2016, in partnership with University College Dublin.


 Central and South Amercia and the Spanish-speaking Carribean




 The regional consultation for South Amercia and the Spanish-speaking Carribean was held in San José, Costa Rica, 19–20 November 2016, in

partnershipwith the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights, the Inter-American Social Responsibility and Human Rights Institute and Columbia University.

Eastern Europe

izak logo

The regional consultation for Eastern Europe was held in Moscow, Russian Federation, 18–19 November 2016, in partnership with the Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation.

Northern America and English-speaking Caribbean


The regional consultation for northern Amercia and English-speaking Carribean will be held in New York, USA, May 2017, in partnership with Columbia University.


The The regional consultation for Asia will be held in India, Summer 2017 (tbc)


The regional consultation for Africa will be held in Kenya / South Africa, Summer 2017 (tbc)

Middle East


The regional consultation for Middle-East will be held in Amman, Jordan, September 2017, in partnership with Columbia University.





Picture of Felix Kirchmeier

Felix Kirchmeier

Manager of Policy Studies

Felix Kirchmeier oversees the conceptualization, development and implementation of policy research at the Geneva Academy.

Picture of Kamelia Kemileva

Kamelia Kemileva

Executive Manager

Kamelia Kemileva is Executive Manager of the Geneva Academy and Co-Coordinator of the Geneva Academy research project Academic Platform on Treaty Body Review 2020. She is also a visiting programme director at Wilton Park.

Picture of Domenico Zipoli

Domenico Zipoli

Visiting Fellow

His doctoral project focuses on causal mechanisms related to National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) engagement with the UN Human Rights treaty body system.


Cover of the In-Brief No1: The Independence of Treaty Bodies’ Members

In-Brief N°1: The Independence of Treaty Bodies’ Members

December 2012

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Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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