New Publication Takes Stock of UN Treaty Body Review 2020 Implementation

Our new Research Brief Implementing the TB Review 2020 – Where Do We Stand provides a comprehensive summary of the key decisions taken and recommendations given by all relevant stakeholders – UN treaty bodies (TBs), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and member states – in implementing the recommendations of the TB Review 2020 process.

Written by Felix Kirchmeier, Chloé Naret and Domenico Zipoli, it outlines the main issues discussed to date, including good practices, challenges and practical recommendations on ways forward.

‘By taking stock of the current implementation status of such decisions and recommendations, this publication aims at unpacking their significance for strengthening the TB system’ explains Felix Kirchmeier, one of the authors and Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP).

This publication will be discussed in New York on 1st June at a GHRP side-event to the Annual Meeting of Chairpersons of Human Rights Treaty Bodies.

Key Recommendations: From Predictable Review Schedules to Digitalization

The Research Brief also formulates a series of recommendations in order to accelerate the strengthening of the TB system in relation to the following three areas – identified by the co-facilitators of the review: the development of a predictable schedule of reviews; alignment of working methods; digitalization to help enhance TBs’ work.

Predictable Review Schedules

Regarding the schedule of reviews, the publication outlines that a predictable eight-year cycle with a ‘Follow-up Review’ for all States Parties would be a welcome decision, reducing the reporting burden and making the reporting system simpler, more efficient and closer to the national context, therefore supporting State parties to focus on follow-up and implementation.

Alignment of Working Methods

Aligning working methods across treaty bodies is essential for making the transition to a predictable schedule of reviews and for facilitating the digital shift and the development of online tools.

‘Although important steps have already been taken to this end, all TBs should enhance this trend in a unified manner, through the assignment of focal points in each Committee, the establishment of a mechanism dedicated to regularly analysing and supporting harmonising working methods and an inter-Committee structure with a coordinated working methods agenda for all TBs‘ underlines Domenico Zipoli, one of the authors and Project Coordinator at the GHRP.

Digitalization

The 2020 Review also provided a clear roadmap on ways forward with regard to digitalization: the creation of a case and document management system for petitions, a knowledge management system and an online portal for accessing information and submitting documents in a safe and confidential manner.

‘While in presence sessions should remain the rule, the possibility of organizing hybrid sessions could be considered as well as moving some areas of TBs’ work, online, when
possible‘ underlines Chloé Naret, one of the authors and Project Assistant at the GHRP.

Wider GHRP Focus on Strengthening UN TBs

The GHRP will continue to support all stakeholders involved in the TB strengthening process through a number of dedicated initiatives which include additional informal multi-stakeholder discussions under the GHRP Fridays series, on the handling of individual communications through a case management portal, as well as on digital human rights tracking tools for national-level reporting and follow-up.

The Treaty Body Members’ Platform will also continue to serve as a pilot tool in order to tackle the lack of formal communication channels between members and committees to work together and advance common issues.

The GHRP is also discussing with different partners the possibility to conduct additional focused review pilots in Europe and the Asia-Pacific throughout 2022/23.

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Implementing the Treaty Body Review 2020 – Where do we stand

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Felix Kirchmeier, Chloé Naret, Domenico Zipoli

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