GENEVA (4 July 2019) — Rights-holders deserve protection through a strong UN human rights treaty body system, the Chairpersons of the ten UN treaty body committees said as they concluded their annual meeting in New York from 24 to 28 June.
The ten Chairpersons agreed on several measures aimed at strengthening and streamlining the protection of rights holders, as well as to assist States Parties to fulfill their obligations. This vision represents the latest contribution by the Chairpersons to the implementation of General Assembly resolution 68/268 on the strengthening of the treaty body system.
The Chairpersons called for a simplified system that would be more coordinated, internally aligned and accessible to States, civil society and victims of human rights violations. They proposed to take treaty bodies closer to people through the possibility of having expert members conduct human rights dialogues with States in their regions, and not just in Geneva. The Chairs also committed to predictable cycles of reviews, so that human rights situations in all States Parties would be reviewed, including when States failed to keep their obligations to report regularly to treaty bodies.
“Human rights treaties are the bedrock of international human rights protection. We must ensure that independent monitoring of their implementation is effective and fit for purpose. This is the aim of our pragmatic proposals. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to put them into practice for the benefit of rights-holders,” said Hilary Gbedemah, Chair of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and Chairperson of the meeting.
During their meeting, the Chairpersons met with the Secretary-General to discuss the future of the treaty body system, including the impact that recent budgetary restrictions are having on the protection of human rights. They also met with Member States, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies to discuss the 2020 review of the treaty body strengthening process.
“While we are committed to continuously enhancing our working methods, it is essential that Member States cooperate with human rights treaty bodies, and that they continue to provide resources that enable us to work effectively for the benefit of rights holders,” Ms Gbedemah said.
The UN human rights treaty body system comprises the Committee Against Torture, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Committee on Migrant Workers, Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture.
Each Committee is made up of elected independent experts who seek to ensure that States parties fulfil their legal obligations under that legal document. This system of independent scrutiny of the conduct of States by independent experts is a key element of the United Nations human rights system, supported by secretariats in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
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