The Treaty Body Members Platform in 2020: A Special Year

The Treaty Body Members Platform (TBMP), an initiative of the Geneva Human Rights Platform, connects experts in United Nations (UN) treaty bodies (TBs) with each other as well as with Geneva-based practitioners, academics and diplomats to share expertise, exchange views on topical questions and develop synergies.

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most meetings and exchanges had to take place online.

From Informal Personal Meetings to Online Sessions

‘This initiative allows for informal personal meetings across the various TBs, with their members discussing thematic issues and organizational question among themselves as well as with other Geneva-based actors. This informal and inter-personal dimension is at the core of the TBMP and makes this initiative an appreciated offer among TBs members’ underlines Felix Kirchmeier, Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

‘Yet, in this year marked by the COVID-19, the format had to be adapted and only one ‘normal’ session could be held at the beginning of the year. After that, we had to move all the sessions online but managed to keep the informal nature of the discussions and exchanges that are at the core of this initiative’ he adds.

A session of the UN Human Rights Committee

A Pioneer in the Organization of Online Meetings

The move to online meetings started by mid-April with an informal meeting – co-organized with the Human Rights Institute at Columbia University Law School – bringing together UN TBs Chairpersons and focal points for the 2020 Review, initially scheduled to take place at Columbia University in New York.

‘We managed to organize this meeting online in a record time and this is in fact one of the first Zoom conferences for the system that allowed us to discuss issues around the 2020 Review by the UN General Assembly, establishing the commonalities of positions of states, TBs members, NGOs and academia’ explains Felix Kirchmeier.

Substantive Discussions: From the Impact of Pesticides to Corruption

The TBMP also allowed for discussions ranging from the impact of pesticides on the rights to health and life to concrete ways on how to bring corruption cases to the various TBs individual communication procedures.

‘It is key to keep discussing the specific inroads to the UN TB system, both for the victims as well as to keep the system alerted and connected to the work of NGOs and grassroots organizations who can benefit from this interaction’ underlines Felix Kirchmeier.

The Work of UN TBs during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Another important online meeting – co-organized with Paris Human Rights Center and, for one segment, with civil society – focused on how TBs can coordinate their working methods in the ongoing situation of online meetings. It notably involved members of the formal TB working group on COVID working methods, but also some TB Chairs and other members. As the insecurity of the sanitary and thus travel situation continues, TBs members underlined that they cannot allow any widening of the protection gap created by the postponement of state reviews. Thus, they subsequently decided, as a provisional measure, to take up the reviews in an online format in 2021.

Building on the Positive Aspects of Online Meetings

The online meetings of the TBMP showed both the limits of virtual informal exchanges, but also their potential. More participants could join than in face-to-face meetings, where participation is usually restricted to the TBs members who are in session in Geneva.

‘These online meetings allowed us to have, each time, the 10 TBs represented. The interpretation features and other technical means to increase the accessibility of the discussions also went beyond what we can usually offer at Villa Moynier’ explains Felix Kirchmeier.

‘In 2021, we hope to be able to welcome TBs members again in person in Geneva, but the first part of the year will probably be fully online. In any case, we will build on the positive aspects and developments we experimented during 2020 and the expertise we developed in organizing large online meetings’ he adds.

A man typing on a laptop

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Members of Parliament from the Hirshabelle State of Somalia, following proceedings during a courtesy visit to the Machakos County Assembly, Kenya News

National Strategies for Human Rights Monitoring and Implementation

12 February 2021

Our new publication analyses institutional cooperation initiatives at the domestic level designed to strengthen human rights implementation.

Read more

Portrait of Dr Christophe Golay News

Dr Christophe Golay will Discuss the Rights of Peasants at a High-Level Meeting of Colombia’s Constitutional Court

25 January 2021

At an online high-level meeting organized by Colombia’s Constitutional Court, our Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Dr Christophe Golay will present the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and its potential to protect the rights of peasants in the country.

Read more

Pisciculture in Bengamis, Democratic Republic of the Congo Event

Draft General Comment on Land and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

11 May 2021, 14:30-16:30

This online event will discuss the draft General Comment on land and economic, social and cultural rights currently developed by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Read more

Afghanistan, Parwan detention facility. Inside a room where detainees of the prison, separated by an acrylic glass, are allowed to meet with their families a couple of times per year with the help of the ICRC employees who facilitate the programme. Short Course

Preventing and Combating Terrorism

Spring 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, discusses the extent to which states may limit and/or derogate from their international human rights obligations in order to prevent and counter-terrorism and thus protect persons under their jurisdiction.

Read more

A farmer in her field, DRC Training

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

6-10 September 2021

From its adoption to its content and implementation, this training course provides a comprehensive overview of the United Nations Declaration on the rights of peasants, as well as tools to protect and promote the rights of peasants, rural women, fisher, pastoralist and nomadic communities, as well as agricultural workers.

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

A session of the UN Human Rights Committtee at Palais Wilson Project

Implementing International Humanitarian Law Through Human Rights Mechanisms

Started in April 2019

Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews with experts, the project aims at examining how – if at all possible – IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well from universal and regional treaties.

Read more

cover of the publication Publication

Military Briefing: Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflict

published on March 2021

Alice Priddy

Read more

cover of the publication Publication

Towards Transversal Standards to Evaluate the Impact of UN Special Procedures

published on February 2021

Jonathan Andrew

Read more