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Treaty Bodies: Protection from undue State influence and strengthening measures proposed by NGOs

At the 2023 meeting of UN Treaty Body chairpersons, ISHR raised concerns about the patterns of reprisals committed by China against individuals who engage with Treaty Bodies. ISHR and NGO partners also took the opportunity to discuss a range of practical measures related to NGO engagement as a follow-up to the 2020 review process.

A recent study undertaken by ISHR has documented the efforts that some States are prepared to deploy to curtail the independence and effectiveness of UN human rights bodies, including Treaty Bodies. The study evidences a range of tactics used by the Chinese authorities to discourage the engagement of independent NGOs in periodic reviews by the Treaty Bodies, pressure on the UN Secretariat in Geneva and New York to control the working methods of the Committees, and the nomination of members who have close links with Chinese authorities. ISHR’s submission to the Treaty Body Chairs invites them to call out incidents and instances where members fail to comply with basic requirements of independence, apply a zero tolerance for threats and intimidation against independent NGOs, and provide safe spaces for their participation.

The 2023 meeting of Treaty Body chairs was also the occasion of a discussion around a working paper prepared by the Secretariat on the modalities for the post 2020 review agenda, including on the key topic of fixed and predictable cycles of review. ISHR and fellow international NGOs that engage with the Treaty Bodies provided a range of comments and suggestions on the working paper.

The joint statement also calls for the continuation of hybrid participation modalities for NGOs who are not able to be present in Geneva during periodic reviews, and reiterates previous joint NGO calls for an enhancement of the OHCHR capacity to deal with individual communications to Treaty Bodies.

ISHR statement on the influence of China, intimidation and reprisals.

Joint NGO statement to the UNTB Chairpersons.

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