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

Treaty Bodies: Nicaragua defies human rights bodies, escapes scrutiny

In a rare and unwelcome move, Nicaragua has escaped scrutiny from two UN human rights Committees. By choosing to skip both scheduled reviews, and simultaneously ignoring decisions from a regional human rights court, Nicaragua sends a defying message to the international community, and a confirmation of its intentions to hide a problematic human rights record domestically.

UNGA76: Treaty Body chairpersons present incremental but important reforms

Important reforms proposed ahead of the 2020 review of UNTBs, such as the adoption of fixed and predictable cycles of review, again featured prominently in the Chairs’ presentations to the UNGA Third Committee. Yet the COVID crisis has presented unprecedented challenges to the system, and it is yet to be seen how those reforms will work out in practice.

Treaty Bodies | NGOs welcome decision of UN anti-torture Committe to hold online review of State party

ISHR and NGO partners warmly welcome the UN Committee against Torture’s decision to host their first review of a State party since the beginning of the global pandemic, and the consideration of individual complaints which had also been suspended. With this decision, all UN Treaty Bodies have now taken steps to ensure the continuity of their mandate, including periodic reviews, which are crucial to State accountability.

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!

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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 2020, 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.