New Paper Delves into Reporting Practices under International Treaties

13 November 2023

First introduced in 1919 by the League of Nations and the International Labour Organization (ILO), state reporting procedures have been developed to assist state parties in complying with their obligations under many international and regional treaties. This new working paper by our Geneva Human Rights Platform International Treaty-Based Reporting Practices Review Report provides an overview of more than 30 reporting practices, their specificities and good practices in this ever-growing field.

Written by Claire Callejon, Felix Kirchmeier and Domenico Zipoli, the paper digs into the current international and regional reporting systems in the fields of human rights, labour, environment, education, culture, health and crime/security.

‘This paper was produced in the context of our cooperation with the ILO secretariat and as a follow-up to our involvement in the 2020 Review of the UN treaty body system, This review is still underway at the UN General Assembly where states, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN treaty bodies struggle to implement its recommendations, including those related to reporting’ explains Felix Kirchmeier, Executive Director of the Geneva Human Right Platform.

Key Findings

The paper highlights that most reporting systems do face similar problems like under-reporting, backlog, as well as lack of visibility and consistency. Some enjoy excellent compliance, but this seems to come at the cost of lowered expert scrutiny.

The paper also identifies some good practices like combined reviews in the field of human rights reporting, regional approaches and prioritization at UNESCO and most notably the use of electronic systems to facilitate the flow of information both ways. These include enhanced visibility of review mechanisms’ outputs that encourage good practices, and diligence in reporting and facilitate engagement of stakeholders, as well as simplified online submission of information via secure portals.

‘State representatives in Geneva and New York are struggling to find the best ways to implement the recommendations of the 2020 TB Review report’ says Felix Kirchmeier

‘Our findings – which do not provide specific recommendations for any particular reporting system – allow for very valuable comparisons and to identify replicable good practices. They can thus help diplomats and staff of these reporting systems’ secretariats to look beyond the human rights field, see how and why other mechanisms function better and recognize shared shortcomings’ he adds.

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