New Publication Provides Guidance to Improve the UN Human Rights Individual Complaints Mechanism

Cover Page of the Publication Cover Page of the Publication

27 May 2019

Treaty Bodies’ Individual Communication Procedures (ICPs) are a major instrument to enforce the rights enshrined in the corresponding human rights treaties and provide victims with an effective remedy before an international body. They also represent a key entry point for victims of human rights violations to the United Nations (UN) human rights system.

Our new 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 Under-Studied Issue

This report examines an essential aspect of the work of UN treaty bodies which, unlike state reporting, has received insufficient attention despite representing an import¬ant mechanism to enforce victims’ rights and ensure that national laws are in line with international standards.

‘Compared to the periodic reviews based on state reports, the issue of communications has received little attention in the debate, hence the need to fill this gap’ underlines Felix Kirchmeier, Coordinator of the Geneva Human Rights Platform and co-author of the report.

Focus on Victims

Victims’ access to redress forms the basis of the reflections in this publication.

‘We notably examined how the available procedures function, how useful they are to victims in terms of guaranteeing their rights and providing remedies, how they are implemented, what and how could be improved’ explains Kamelia Kemileva, Special Projects Manager at the Geneva Academy and co-author of the publication.

Key Challenges

The publication identifies four challenges that currently prevent individual communication procedures from providing relief to victims of human rights violations – accessibility and visibility, stakeholder’s participation, universal use and structural difficulties – and provides specific recommendations to address these challenges.

‘For each challenge, we discuss the current shortcomings of the system, including for instance the issue of reprisals against those filing complaints; the need to modernize the Petitions and Urgent Action Section of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; or the issue of coordination and harmonization among the various treaty bodies and complaint procedures’ stresses Claire Callejon, Associate Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy and co-author of the publication.

Academics Training on Geneva based UN Human Rights Mechanisms at the Committee against Torture

Recommendations for Improvement: From Short-Term Critical Measures to Medium-Term Positive Change

The publication details concrete and feasible steps that can be taken to improve the ICPs, including short-term critical measures like enhancing the visibility through a more user-friendly web¬site and a readily accessible, up-to-date, comprehensive database; digitalizing the registration of new complaints based on strict criteria; giving autonomy to both parties in the complaint procedure through an online, secure portal where the author of the communication and the state party concerned can submit infor¬mation and be kept informed of the proceedings ; harmonizing working methods related to individual communications across treaty bodies; continuing to develop in all committees ‘fast-track’ techniques, and work in groups and internal chambers to speed up the process and deal with the backlog of cases.

‘While we are fully aware that UN treaty bodies are under huge budgetary constraints, most of these short-term recommendations would, if implemented, hugely contribute to the improvement of the system and would not require a huge amount of financial resources’ explains Felix Kirchmeier.

Launch in Geneva

The publication will be launched and distributed in Geneva at an event of the Geneva Human Rights Platform that will take place on 31 May (10:30–12:00) at the Geneva Academy.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Session of the UN Committee against Racial Discrimination News

New Paper Examines the Diversity in Membership of the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies

27 February 2018

Our new paper ‘Diversity in Membership of the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies’ examines the composition of UN human rights treaty bodies (TBs) notably in relation to gender balance, geographical representation, as well as TBs members’ subject-matter expertise and professional background.

Read more

Experts at the annual seminar on use of force and less lethal weapons News

Experts and Law Enforcement Practitioners Discuss New Standards on the Use of Less Lethal Weapons

6 July 2018

Last week, at our annual seminar held in the context of the Geneva Human Rights Platform and its focus on the use of force, participants discussed human rights challenges related to the use of less-lethal weapons and the development of new international standards.

Read more

Tractor at work in a field (Mombaldone, Piemonte, NW Italy) Event

Public Conference: Peasants' Rights in Europe

30 September 2019, 13:30-17:00

This public conference will discuss the implementation of the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants in Europe and its contribution to the SDGs and the UN Decade of Family Farming.

Read more

Logo of the Atlas Network Event

Women's Perspective on a Career in International Law

25 September 2019, 12:30-14:00

This event, co-organized with the ATLAS Network will feature prominent women in international law. Coming from different professional backgrounds, they will share their experience and advice through an interactive discussion.

Read more

Young boy in a slum Training

Formation en ligne sur les Droits Economiques, Sociaux et Culturels

7 October - 24 November 2019

Cette formation en ligne permet d’acquérir une connaissance approfondie des droits économiques, sociaux et culturels (DESC), des obligations des états et des mécanismes chargés de les protéger et de surveiller leur mise en œuvre.

Read more

Syria,  Aleppo, great Umayyad mosque. Destructions. Short Course

The Interplay between International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

6-20 December 2019

This short course focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.

Read more

Inside an IBM Cloud Data Center Project

Human Rights in the Digital Age

Started in September 2017

This research project examines and appraises the impact of innovation and the development of new information technologies on human rights.

Read more

Séléka rebels patrol in the town of Bria, Central African Republic (CAR). Project

Human Rights Responsibilities and Armed Non-State Actors

Started in June 2018

This research aims at building a common understanding and vision as to how states and the relevant parts of the UN system can provide a concrete and practical framework to address human rights responsibilities of armed non-state actors.

Read more