Treaty Bodies Individual Communications Procedures

Towards a More Efficient Functioning

Started in January 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.

This work is supported by a secretariat, hosted by the Office of the UN High-Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and entitled ‘Petitions and Urgent Actions Section’ (PUAS).

AT THE CROSSROAD OF A SECRETARIAT AND A LEGAL ENTITY

Even if UN treaty bodies (TBs) are not tribunals per se, they carry out legal work with the ICPs and must, therefore, be given the ways and means to do it

Our publication Treaty Bodies’ Individual Communication Procedures: Providing Redress and Reparation to Victims of Human Rights Violations precisely addressed the handling of ICPs and tackled efficiency questions related to this procedure. It also outlined a series of key recommendations to improve the system, including the creation of a judicial-like registry to provide substantive legal support to TBs.

The PUAS partially fulfils this task, struggling with institutional and financial issues, but there could be a way, through discussion and assessments to hugely improve its work.

FINDING A VIABLE SOLUTION WITH CONCRETE IMPROVEMENTS

Starting from the challenges and efficiency questions identified in our publication, this initiative aims at finding a viable solution for the ICPs and for the various actors involved – victims, states, TBs, and OHCHR as host of the PUAS.

An informal task force, made of an evolving group of stakeholders – including academics, members of PUAS, TB members, diplomats, human rights NGOs, litigators and former registrars in international tribunals – and that places victims at the centre of the debate, notably aims at equipping TBs with an appropriate tailor-made efficient and economic judicial-like registry.

SUPPORTING HARMONIZATION AND THE DIGITAL SHIFT OF THE TB SECRETARIAT

Via meetings of the Rapporteurs on individual communications of all TB concerned and OHCHR’s Petitions and Urgent Actions Section staff, the GHRP – in partnership with the Paris Human Rights Centre – facilitates discussions on the current methods and scope for harmonizing approaches.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

View of the meeting on individual communications News

The GHRP Facilitates the Harmonization of UN Treaty Bodies’ Individual Communications

24 April 2023

At a meeting co-hosted with the Paris Human Rights Center, members of UN Treaty Bodies responsible for individual communications discussed the implementation of a coherent approach to dealing with communications brought by individuals who seek justice at the international level.

Read more >

Cover Page of the Publication News

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

27 May 2019

Our new publication 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 United Nations treaty bodies.

Read more >

TEAM

Picture of Felix Kirchmeier

Felix Kirchmeier

Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

Felix Kirchmeier is the Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

Publications

Cover page of the publication

Treaty Bodies’ Individual Communication Procedures: Providing Redress and Reparation to Victims of Human Rights Violations

May 2019

Claire Callejon, Kamelia Kemileva, Felix Kirchmeier

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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