UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
19 March 2020
The current process of United Nations (UN) treaty bodies (TB) strengthening, leading to this year’s review by the UN General Assembly (UNGA), involves regular updates on the process by the UN Secretary-General (SG).
‘The last report by the SG is a continuation of the former ones, but is more detailed on individual communications, and also shows some worrying trends regarding the system’s sustainability. Despite efforts under UNGA Resolution 68/268, the state reporting compliance rate only rose minimally, remaining below 20 percent. Despite a capacity-building programme, 569 reports are overdue, which would imply a workload of about 219 weeks, if these were submitted. Even with more session time, still, 183 reports are in the backlog, which equals to some 70 weeks of work. Finally, notwithstanding efforts by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, including using extra-budgetary resources, the backlog of individual communications continued to grow, meaning an average time of 6 years for a complaint to be treated’ underlines Felix Kirchmeier, Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP).
At a GHRP meeting, diplomats, members of UN TBs and civil society representatives discussed and exchanged around this document and the upcoming review.
‘This briefing complements an official presentation of the SG report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Our objective here was to allow for open discussions and interactions among various stakeholders on the report’s content, as well as on possible measures that UN TBs could take to improve the system’ explains Felix Kirchmeier.
‘This type of exchange is particularly important, as it seems that the political discussions towards a 2020 UNGA resolution do not envisage any major overhaul or reform of the system he adds.
At the meeting, the TB Review 2020 focal points of the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women commented on what the report means for TBs. They also reported on their internal efforts towards harmonization and efficiency and underlined the importance of sustainable financing of their secretariats, as well as of getting support for a case management system to handle properly individual communications.
The web chat on Business, the Economy, and Livelihoods in a COVID-19 World marked the last ‘Right On’ online event before the summer break. The series will resume in September, at the pace of one online event per month.
Dr Adriana Bessa is a Senior Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy. She is involved in research projects dealing with the right to food and the sustainability of food systems, and the rights of peasants. She also coordinates a training course on the protection of human rights and the environment.
This online course will examine the protection afforded by international human rights law in these contexts, with a specific focus on the right to peaceful assembly – which is at the heart of such movements –, and the right to life – which is often violated during such transitional moments.
The Geneva Human Rights Platform collaborates with a series of actors to reflect on the implementation of international human rights norms at the local level and propose solutions to improve uptake of recommendations and decisions taken by Geneva-based human rights bodies at the local level.
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.