Treaty Body Review 2020 and Beyond

Started in January 2018

The United Nations (UN) human rights (HR) treaty bodies (TBs) are a central pillar of the international HR protection system. Since the establishment of the first UN TB in 1970, both treaty ratifications and the treaty body system have expanded significantly. While this has enhanced HR protection worldwide, it has also created complex challenges that affect the system and those who interact with it: states, national HR institutions, UN entities, civil society organizations, individual complainants and rights-holders at large.

THE 2020 REVIEW

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 TB system’s future and develop innovative proposals and solutions without weakening the HR protection that the system currently affords.

Providing Expert Inputs

The Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) contributes to this review process by providing expert input via different avenues, by facilitating dialogue on the review among various stakeholders, as well as by accompanying the development of a follow-up resolution to 68/268 in New York and in Geneva.

This contribution builds upon the three-year global project of the Academic Platform, which developed models to optimize the reporting and dialogue processes of TBs.

The GHRP has since refined the proposals, adding a calendar system to schedule clustered TB reviews optimally, and identified measures to update the Communication procedure.

Piloting the 2020 Recommendation and the Implementation of a Focused Review

In the report closing the 2020 Review process, the co-facilitators – Morocco and Switzerland – enumerate a number of avenues to implement recommendations that have surfaced in the review discussions.

These recommendations include:

  • Accelerating the digital shift
  • Setting up a digital case management system for individual communications and urgent actions
  • An open and transparent web-based electoral platform to evaluate the merits of treaty body candidates
  • Rationalized, harmonized and modern working methods
  • An aligned methodology for the constructive dialogue between States parties and treaty bodies, as well as for concluding observations and follow-up recommendations and for stakeholder interaction
  • Making the simplified reporting procedure the default procedure
  • Establishing predictable review cycles,
  • Enhanced engagement or reviews in the regions, supporting also the idea of ‘focused reviews, which may consist of an in situ visit’

The GHRP contributed to many of these recommendations and will stimulate and pilot a number of them through 2021 and 2022, collaborating with interested states and stakeholders.

In particular, we will start fleshing out and piloting potential modalities for focused TB reviews.

TEAM

Picture of Felix Kirchmeier

Felix Kirchmeier

Manager of Policy Studies and Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

Felix Kirchmeier oversees the conceptualization, development and implementation of policy research at the Geneva Academy. He is also the Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

Picture of Domenico Zipoli

Domenico Zipoli

Research Fellow

His research focuses on the question of connectivity among international human rights mechanisms and on national strategies for monitoring, implementation and follow-up of international human rights obligations and recommendations.

Picture of Kamelia Kemileva

Kamelia Kemileva

Senior Consultant

Kamelia Kemileva is an external consultant on selected mandates related to the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

OUTPUT

 Regular Briefings in Geneva and New York

Regular briefings in Geneva and New York with and for various stakeholders – diplomats, civil society organizations, members of UN TB and experts – allow to discuss and finetune positions towards the 2020 review.

In Geneva, the Geneva Academy Fridays – monthly briefings for Geneva-based diplomats in charge of human rights –  allowed to discuss topical issues related to the 2020 Review and provided to the diplomatic community updates on academic findings on the functioning of the UN human rights mechanisms and bodies.

Guidance to Improve the UN Human Rights Individual Complaints Mechanism

The 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 Efficient Tool to Implement UN Treaty Bodies’ Recommendations

At an expert conference co-organized with the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights on 18–19 September 2019, UN TB experts, academics, national and international NGOs and governmental representatives discussed the implementation of a new mechanism aimed at improving the work of UN TBs, the TRIP: Technical Review of Implementation Progress.

Learning from the Universal Periodic Review

The UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) has brought new life into the measures taken at the international and national levels to hold states accountable to their international human rights law obligations. The UPR has also generated a number of new initiatives at national levels to implement recommendations emanating from the UPR process. The Research Brief The Universal Periodic Review Mid-Term Reporting Process: Lessons for the Treaty Bodies attempts to draw lessons from the UPR mid-term reporting process that can assist TBs in improving the impact of their work at the national level.

A New Tool to Optimize the Planning of Treaty Bodies Sessions

 The ‘Treaty Body Scheduler’ is a new tool that allows planning, in the context of a consolidated report and clustered dialogue, the best schedules for TBs sessions. While the duration of TBs sessions would remain approximately the same, the schedules developed by this tool would allow delegations to reduce their travels to Geneva. This type of organization would also promote greater interactions between Committees’ members as they would be in session simultaneously.

The Academic Platform on Treaty Body Review 2020

The Geneva Academy coordinated a major project aiming at providing academic input to the 2020 review of UN treaty bodies by the UN General Assembly. This project, which ran from 2015 to 2018 and involved more than 300 academic partners and experts, developed key recommendations to improve the work of UN TBs, many of which have been supported by states. Several states across all continents and regional groups, as well as NGOs, experts and members of UN TBs have endorsed a number of these recommendations.

Publications

Cover page of the Research Brief

The Universal Periodic Review Mid-Term Reporting Process: Lessons for the Treaty Bodies

November 2019

Miloon Kothari

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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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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Cover page of the publication

Optimizing the UN Treaty Body System

May 2018

Domenico Zipoli, Felix Kirchmeier, Kamelia Kemileva, Claire Callejon

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

View of a session of the UN Human Rights Committee News

The GHRP Contributes to the Development of the UN Treaty Body Impact Database 2020+

20 April 2021

The Geneva Human Rights Platform is collaborating with the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria and OHCHR in the development of an online database aimed at assessing the impact of the UN human rights treaty body system.

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Felix Kirchmeier, Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform, in front of his computer News

Experts and Practitioners Address the Final Stage of the 2020 Treaty Body Review Process

14 September 2020

At an event organized by the Geneva Human Rights Platform, 50 experts and practitioners reflected on the consultation process of the TB review 2020 led by Morocco and Switzerland.

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UN general Assemby News

The Geneva Human Rights Platform Inputs the Final Stage of the UN Treaty Body Review 2020 Process

11 August 2020

The written submission includes all the proposals developed by the Geneva Human Rights Platform since the beginning of the process. They are the outcome of a multi-year process of academic research and consultations, along with multi-stakeholder consultations.

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LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights: Applications for the 2021–2022 Academic Year are Open!

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Applications will run until 29 January 2021 for applications with a scholarship and until 26 February 2021 for applications without a scholarship.

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This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, aims at presenting the institutions and procedures in charge of the implementation of international human rights law.

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published on March 2021

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Towards Transversal Standards to Evaluate the Impact of UN Special Procedures

published on February 2021

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