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 (UNGA) adopted a landmark resolution (A/RES/68/268) on strengthening the TB system, which envisaged a review of the measures taken at the UNGA level in 2020. This review represented 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 Input

The Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) contributed to this review process by providing expert input via different avenues, facilitating dialogue on the review among various stakeholders, as well as by accompanying the development of a follow-up to the TB Review 2020 process, both in New York and Geneva.

This contribution was built 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 Recommendations and the Implementation of Focused Reviews

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 2022 and 2023, collaborating with interested states and stakeholders.

In particular, we have started fleshing out and piloting potential modalities for TB-focused reviews, a new procedure within the state reporting cycle recently renamed follow-up review.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

135 session of the Human Rights Committee, June 2022 News

The Geneva Human Rights Platform Welcomes Major Breakthrough for UN Treaty Bodies

28 June 2022

At their 34th Annual Meeting, Chairpersons of UN treaty bodies agreed on a predictable review schedule of eight years.

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Side event organized by the Geneva Human Rights Platform at the UN in New York News

From Geneva to New York to Discuss the Future of UN Treaty Bodies

10 June 2022

Our Geneva Human Rights Platform staff – Chloé Naret, Felix Kirchmeier and Domenico Zipoli – travelled to New York to discuss the future of UN treaty bodies.

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A session of the UN Human Rights Committee News

New Publication Takes Stock of UN Treaty Body Review 2020 Implementation

27 May 2022

Our new Research Brief provides a comprehensive summary of the key decisions taken and recommendations given by all relevant stakeholders in implementing the recommendations of the TB Review 2020 process.

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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.

Picture of Domenico Zipoli

Domenico Zipoli

Research Fellow and Project Coordinator

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.

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 of the publication

Implementing the Treaty Body Review 2020 – Where do we stand

August 2022

Felix Kirchmeier, Domenico Zipoli

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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cover of the publication

Promoting Quality Independent and Diverse Treaty Body Membership

November 2021

Claire Callejon

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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cover of the publication

The United Nations Treaty Bodies in a Transition Period – Progress Review March-December 2020 Chronicle

June 2021

Olivier de Frouville

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights; Paris Human Rights Center

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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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Past Events

Side-Event at the Annual Meeting of Chairpersons of Human Rights Treaty Bodies: Implementing the Treaty Body Review 2020 – Where Do We Stand

1 June 2022, 13:15-14:45

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Students during the orientation week News

79 Students Start their Academic Year

12 September 2022

The 41 students enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and the 38 enrolled in our MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ) arrived in Geneva for their orientation week.

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Panel at the 2022 Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platrform News

GHRP Annual Conference Tackles Digitalization and Human Rights

15 November 2022

The 2022 Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform addressed the issue of digital connectivity in the field of human rights via an expert meeting in the morning and a public discussion in the afternoon.

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Event

Mayors, Human Rights and the UN Universal Periodic Review

27 January 2023, 14:00-16:00

This hybrid event, co-organized by our Geneva Human Rights Platform, UPR-Info, OHCHR and UN-Habitat, and the Geneva Cities Hub will discuss human rights implementation at the local and the UPR.

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CSW63 Side Event - “Take the Hot Seat” Intergenerational Dialogue Event

Child Participation in the Work of UN Human Rights Mechanisms

6 February 2023, 13:15-14:45

This Human Rights Conversation will discuss child participation in the work of UN human rights mechanisms and opportunities to move away from today’s reliance on individual organizations or UN representatives’ initiatives.

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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

13-17 November 2023

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.

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Open dump Training

Protecting Human Rights and the Environment

September 2023

This training course will explore the major international and regional instruments for the promotion of human rights, as well as with their implementation and enforcement mechanisms; and provide practical insights into the different UN human rights mechanisms pertinent to advancing environmental issues and protecting environmental human rights defenders.

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Futuristic Robot Arm Interacting with Screen Project

Disruptive Technologies and Rights-Based Resilience

Completed in July 2021

This project facilitated a multistakeholder consultative process to identify knowledge gaps, generate new evidence and co-design evidence-based tools to support regulatory and policy responses to human rights challenges linked to digital technologies.

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Panel Discussion: Project

Treaty Body Members’ Platform

Started in January 2014

The Treaty Body Members’ Platform connects experts in UN treaty bodies with each other as well as with Geneva-based practitioners, academics and diplomats to share expertise, exchange views on topical questions and develop synergies.

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Cover of the publication Publication

Assessment Tool for Special Procedures' Impact Evaluation – Developing an Initial Framework

published on January 2023

Jonathan Andrew

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