Treaty Body Strengthening
The ten treaty bodies constitute a fundamental pillar of the international human rights protection system. The treaty body system has grown exponentially since the establishment of the first treaty body in 1969 and doubled in size over the last decade– a growth which has greatly enhanced human rights protection.
However, the growth of the system did not come without challenges. Some of these challenges include the accumulation of a significant backlog of State reports and individual communications, chronic under-resourcing of the treaty bodies and insufficient compliance by States parties with their reporting obligations. The under-resourcing and insufficient harmonization of working methods among the treaty bodies resulted in a number of inefficiencies.
In 2009, the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched a process of consultation and reflection on how to address and remedy these challenges. In 2012, High Commissioner Pillay published a landmark report (GA/66/860), reflecting and endorsing many of the thoughtful recommendations that emerged from the consultations. In early 2012, the General Assembly adopted a resolution launching an intergovernmental process to strengthen and enhance the effective functioning of the treaty body system and two Co-facilitators were appointed by the President of the General Assembly.
In April 2014, the General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/68/268 following the two year long intergovernmental process. In its resolution, the General Assembly effectively addressed the challenges in a comprehensive and sustainable manner. Specifically, additional meeting time and human and financial resources from the regular budget were granted to the treaty bodies. Also, a capacity building package was agreed upon to assist States in fulfilling their treaty obligations. The General Assembly further adopted measures to modernize the treaty body system and make it more accessible. In addition, it recommended the harmonization by the ten treaty bodies of their working methods. The General Assembly further reaffirmed the independence of the treaty bodies and condemned intimidation and reprisals against individuals or groups for their contribution to the work of the treaty bodies.