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.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
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.
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]geneva-academy.ch 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.
- 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
We intend to hold the following seven regional consultations:
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 partnership with the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights, the Inter-American Social Responsibility and Human Rights Institute and Columbia University.
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, 1–2 June 2017, in partnership with Columbia University.
The regional consultation for Africa will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, 20–21 July 2017, in partnership with the University of Nairobi and the Strathmore Law School, Nairobi.
The The regional consultation for Asia will be held in New-Delhi, India, October 2017 (tbc).
The regional consultation for Middle-East will be held in Amman, Jordan, September 2017, in partnership with Columbia University.
- Background Paper English >
- Background Paper French >
- Background Paper Spanish >
- Concept Note EN >
- Concept Note FR >
- Concept Note SP >
- List of Official Documents (1988 2014) >
- Suggested Research Questions EN >
- Suggested Research Questions FR >
- Suggested Research Questions SP >
- Report of Dublin Workshop >
- Report of the Moscow Workshop >
- Agenda of the 2016 Annual Conference >
- Report of the Regional Consultation for Latin America >
- Report of the 2016 Conference >