A New Space to Discuss Novel Ways of Work for UN Treaty Bodies

14 December 2021

The new GHRP Fridays series, launched in November 2021, allows stakeholders – diplomats, members of United Nations (UN) treaty bodies (TBs), academia, staff from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and civil society – to discuss the outcomes of the 2020 TB Review by the UN General Assembly and practical ways to implement change.

‘We are very pleased to co-organize these events – that take place on Fridays afternoon at Villa Moynier and online – with the Permanent Missions of Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Morocco, Switzerland and Uruguay. They allow discussing, in an informal setting, novel approaches and ways of work for these central pillars of the international human rights protection system’ explains Felix Kirchmeier, Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

From the Establishment of Predictable Review Calendars to the Nomination of Experts

The topics of the GHRP Friday follow-up on substantive proposals arising from the 2020 Review and listed in the report of the co-facilitators (A/75/601), the report of the 33rd meeting of the Chairpersons (A/76/254), the CRPD position paper or the joint letter by a group of states to the TB Chairs’ 33rd meeting.

These include the establishment of predictable review calendars on new timelines, the introduction of focused reviews in the reporting cycle, the harmonization of working methods, transparency in the nomination process for membership and the digital shift – including inter-sessional work online, and questions around remuneration of online work.

The three GHRP Fridays that took place in November and December addressed UN TBs’ COVID working methods, the introduction of predictable review schedules, and the system of nominations and elections of TB members.

‘The take-away points from these discussions will be summarized in a report at the end of the series but the discussions show that many practical steps forward can be implemented’ says Felix Kirchmeier.

‘For instance, while the COVID situation highlighted the opportunities and limits of online work, TBs are now in a better position to make use of the digital space and align their procedures in this context. Similarly, experience has also shown that some TBs have introduced predictable calendars and that this move is therefore feasible. The same goes for the nomination and election of TB members: some states unilaterally set good examples, while universal transparent processes are so far only undertaken by NGOs. Stronger involvement of OHCHR, notably in the screening of candidates according to objective criteria set out in the conventions could be a useful next step’ explains Felix Kirchmeier.

2022 Subjects

The GHRP Fridays will continue in 2022, focusing notably on the possibilities offered by digitalization and the strengthening of national implementation efforts. Specific discussions in the pipeline will address the following topics:

Digital Shift / Digital Uplift, 14 January 2022

Working methods inside the TB system/secretariat are not up to speed with contemporary standards and potentials IT or AI-based solutions can offer. Efforts are underway in specific areas of work, and an office-wide discussion on a digital uplift is taking place.

This GHRP Friday will provide an opportunity to the OHCHR task force on digitalization to share progress and plans.

Focused Review: Models, Modalities, Concepts and Simulations

The idea of focused reviews, to take place in between full reviews, has been welcomed by all stakeholders. They are thought to replace full reviews, focusing on implementation and follow-up of recommendations. Models differ from in-country sessions, reviews in regional hubs or online.

This GHRP Friday will allow for an exchange of the various ideas, their differences and implications and for a presentation of the simulation exercises initiated by the GHRP.

Case Management Portal for Individual Communications

This GHRP Friday will provide an update on the progress of this case management support.

Digital Tools for National-Level Reporting and Follow-Up

This GHRP Friday will discuss the available digital tools for national-level reporting and follow-up.

Harmonized Working Methods Post COVID

This GHRP Friday will discuss the harmonization of working methods in a post-COVID context.

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