Structural reform of UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies urged

October 17, 2017

New Delhi, India

A two-day Asian regional consultation of international experts on reform of UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies has urged significant changes to the UN mechanisms to improve and monitor implementation by member countries.

The 17 specialists included academics and civil society representatives from Bangladesh, Iran, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India, Japan, Norway and Switzerland to improve observance of these treaties. They proposed a set of recommendations which included the following:

  • The UN Human Rights reporting system is facing a huge backlog with more than 600 submissions and reports pending for consideration. It was also observed that States are reluctant to comply with Treaty Body reporting. Reports of 77 countries are pending for over 10 years in various Treaty Bodies. This burden could be reduced by unified reporting procedure, organised by established national level bodies to coordinate reporting and compliance procedures.
  • Government officials and diplomats responsible are often not aware of the technicalities of the treaty bodies system. Capacity building of members and government officials is important in this regard.
  • Increase the role of civil society organisations (CSO) in bridging the gap between treaty bodies and governments. CSOs need to take greater initiative in engaging with governments on the detailed mechanism with regard to treaty bodies. They should expand their work with Special Rapporteurs who head specific areas of human rights monitoring such as Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of expression and Convention against torture.

The two-day event was jointly organised by South Asian University (SAU), Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights at the SAU campus on October 13-14. The event, ‘Asian Regional Consultation of the Academic Platform Project on the 2020 Review’, revolved around how to strengthen the Treaty Body mechanism and improve reporting and compliance.

Ten international Human Rights instruments adopted by the UN are accepted widely by member countries, in theory, bind all nations to the common observance of specific rights. These include the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Convention Against Torture (CAT).

The recommendations are being finalised by the Geneva Academy and its Asian partners CHRI and SAU, academic partner. These recommendations will be sent to the UN Secretary-General for presentation at UN General Assembly in 2018.

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For more information, please contact:  

Yashasvi Nain- Programme Officer, Strategic Initiatives Programme