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, former 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

View of participants in the training course on UN human rights system News

Geneva Human Rights Platform Expands Training Hub with New Courses in 2023

18 September 2023

The GHRP introduced two innovative courses to enhance its Training Hub offerings, which delved into the realm of international human rights standards and system and into business and human rights.

Read more

Participants in the training course News

Training Boosts Geneva Diplomats’ Expertise in UN Human Rights Council

23 January 2024

Our Geneva Human Rights Platform offered, in collaboration with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a three-day executive training course for Geneva-based diplomats on  the functioning of UN human rights mechanisms and negotiation practices at the multilateral level.

Read more

Cells in a jail Event

Toward An International Human Right to Claim Innocence

8 March 2024, 13:15-14:45

This event will discuss and analyze the innocence gap in international law and discuss different strategies for achieving greater recognition of an international right to assert claims of factual innocence.

Read more

Garment workersto receive food from their factory during lunch time. This food is freely provided by their factory in order to ensure that workers eat healthy and hygienic food. Training

Business and Human Rights

2-6 September 2024

This training course will examine how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights have been utilized to advance the concept of business respect for human rights throughout the UN system, the impact of the Guiding Principles on other international organizations, as well as the impact of standards and guidance developed by these different bodies.

Read more

A general view of participants during of the 33nd ordinary session of the Human Rights Council. Training

The Universal Periodic Review and the UN Human Rights System: Raising the Bar on Accountability

11-15 November 2024

This training course will explore the origin and evolution of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and its functioning in Geneva and will focus on the nature of implementation of the UPR recommendations at the national level.

Read more

Un plate with Rapporteur Spécial written on it Project

Support to UN Special Procedures

Started in June 2020

Read more

Sign: National Human Rights Commission of Nepal Project

Local Implementation of Global Human Rights

Started in May 2020

The Geneva Human Rights Platform collaborates with a series of actors to reflect on the implementation of international human rights norms at the local level and propose solutions to improve uptake of recommendations and decisions taken by Geneva-based human rights bodies at the local level.

Read more

Cover Page of Research Brief Publication

Environmental Human Rights as a Tool in Early Warning and Conflict Prevention The Role of the Human Rights Council

published on January 2024

Erica Harper, Baïna Ubushieva

Read more

Cover page of the Research Brief Publication

The Evolving Neurotechnology Landscape: Examining the Role and Importance of Human Rights in Regulation

published on December 2023

Erica Harper

Read more