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Treaty Bodies | New NGO proposals on the 2020 review

In two new joint public calls, NGOs are calling on States to provide suitable funding to the UN treaty bodies, and proposing a model for enhanced predictability and coordination of treaty body reviews.

In a joint call to States endorsed by 42 organisations, signatories urged States to fulfil their respective obligations as set out in General Assembly resolution 68/268 and provide adequate funding to the treaty bodies.

“Resolution 68/268 continues to provide a suitable framework for States to provide the funding required for the treaty bodies to function effectively,” said Christian De Vos of the Open Society Justice Initiative, who initiated the process with ISHR. “What is missing is a commitment from UN member States to fulfil their obligations. We are calling for a technical rollover of this resolution when it comes to be reviewed next year, but member States must provide adequate resources to adequately fund all aspects of the treaty bodies work, including the budgetary support that has not been provided since 2017.”

A technical rollover would also avoid a potentially risky scenario whereby new discussions at the General Assembly could invite efforts to threaten the independence of treaty bodies and restrict their effectiveness.

In a separate joint NGO proposal endorsed by 86 organisations, signatories are proposing that treaty bodies should enhance the predictability and coordination of States parties reviews, with the introduction of full reviews followed by focused reviews after four years.

“Our proposal builds on the model put forward by the treaty body Chairs” says Lucy McKernan, representing the NGO network TB-Net, which initiated the proposal with ISHR. “We seek to engage in a discussion with the treaty bodies and OHCHR around our shared objectives of enhancing predictability and coordination of the treaty bodies as part of a coherent and effective system”.

The joint NGO proposal suggests that treaty bodies could schedule their periodic reviews of States in a coordinated way, and introduce a two level review cycle with regular full reviews in Geneva every eight years, followed by focused reviews on a restricted number of recommendations, in line with the current “priority recommendations”, after four years, which could possibly take place in country or in the region. States parties would therefore be reviewed every four years, with full reviews followed by focused reviews.

Both joint NGO calls reiterate the need for an open, transparent, and participatory process around the 2020 review that ensures the protection of rights-holders and the promotion of human rights on the ground.

Access the joint call to States on GA res. 68/268 and signatories here

Access the joint proposal on treaty body reviews and signatories here

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