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.