Formal Input into the UN Secretary-General Report on the Reform of UN Treaty Bodies

Cover page of the submission Cover page of the submission

18 March 2019

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

Ensuring Academic Input into the 2020 Review by the UN General Assembly

On 9 April 2014, the UN General Assembly (GA) adopted a landmark resolution (A/RES/68/268) on strengthening the TB system, which envisages a review of the measures taken 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 upcoming report by the UN Secretary-General (SG) will be the final official input into the intergovernmental debate on the 2020 TB review.

‘This report is key as it will constitute the main source of information for delegations who will negotiate the follow-up resolution to 68/268 next spring. For anyone wanting to contribute to the 2020 review process, it is, therefore, a key opportunity to reply to the questionnaire circulated by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Even though it's addressed mainly to states, academia, civil society and NHRIs should use this opportunity to contribute, which is what we’ve done via our submission explains’ Felix Kirchmeier, Coordinator of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

Feasible Recommendations to Make the TB System Fit for Purpose

Our submission for the upcoming report of the UN SG summarizes the recommendations entailed in our publication Optimizing the UN Treaty Body System.

This publication is the outcome of a three-year consultation process, which aimed at gathering academic inputs into the 2020 review via the creation of an academic network of independent researchers, a call for papers, a series of regional consultations, annual conferences in Geneva, as well as ongoing interactions with key stakeholders.

‘Our main recommendations, highlighted in our submission to the UN SG report, relate to the need to harmonize the reporting and dialogue procedures within the TB system. Basically, we propose two options: a single state report combined with a consolidated state review or a semi-consolidated state report combined with a clustered state review’ underlines Felix Kirchmeier

‘Both the options would bring specific benefits, including more visibility for dialogues and conclusions, avoidance of duplication of reports and recommendations, fewer travels to Geneva by states and other actors, reduction of costs and of the burden of reporting’ he adds.

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