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Treaty Bodies

The treaty bodies are international committees of independent experts that monitor State parties’ implementation of the core international human rights treaties and their optional protocols.

The treaty bodies’ functions include considering State parties’ periodic reports, adjudicating individual complaints, conducting country inquiries, adopting general comments interpreting treaty provisions, and organising thematic discussions related to the treaties.

In carrying out their work, treaty bodies consider information provided by the State parties but also from other actors including UN agencies, national human rights institutions and NGOs. For further information on working with the treaty bodies, see the module on UNTBs at the ISHR Academy.

ISHR supports human rights defenders and NGOs to access and leverage the treaty bodies to contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground. We also monitor and report on the treaty bodies’ examination of State reports and provide case notes on recent decisions on individual communications. ISHR is actively involved in advocacy around the ongoing treaty body strengthening process to ensure that the system is enhanced for the benefits of rights holders.

Latest Updates

New resource for land rights defenders

ISHR hails the adoption of a groundbreaking guidance on land rights by the UN Committee on economic, social and cultural rights (CESCR). The General Comment provides welcome guidance on the obligations of States parties in relation to land rights.

UN anti-torture bodies condemn Nicaragua, after it dodges six UN reviews

The two independent UN anti-torture expert bodies, the Committee Against Torture and its Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, publicly 'deplored Nicaragua's refusal to cooperate', and publish confidential report in an unprecedented move. Over the past year, Nicaragua has refused to undergo reviews by six UN committees on torture, women's rights, racial discrimination, civil and political, and economic, social and cultural rights.

China must release Uyghurs, end grave violations, rules UN committee

In landmark ruling, the UN’s committee on racial discrimination has strongly condemned China’s persecution of Uyghurs, and decided, for the first time ever,  to refer the situation to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect. Reiterating the most serious concerns expressed by the UN’s Human Rights Office and UN independent experts, the committee reminded governments of their obligation to put an end to the most serious human rights violations wherever they occur, in particular racial discrimination.

Treaty Bodies

Treaty Bodies

Discover how the UN Treaty Bodies work and how you can use them to increase the impact of your advocacy.

Visit the ISHR Academy to find out more!

Explore our resources

China and the UN Treaty Body System

In this briefing paper, ISHR looks at the powerful role of China over the UN human rights treaty bodies (UNTBs), identifying the ways in which China deploys influence, from an official discourse that consistently focuses on restricting their scope of work to direct threats to independent NGOs who wish to engage with the UN experts.

Simple Guide to the UN Treaty Bodies

ISHR's Simple Guide to the UN Treaty Bodies has been updated. The 2022 edition is now available in English and Turkish. Updates to other language versions will follow.

The Human Rights Committee, Hong Kong and Macau's reviews

Ahead of Hong Kong and Macau's review by the Human Rights Committee in July 2022, ISHR has prepared an explainer summarising the Committee's work to oversee the implementation of civil and political rights, and opportunities for civil society engagement in its review process. Civil society plays a vital role in informing the Committee's assessment, and pointing to key areas of concern.