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 ISHR’s Simple Guide to the UN Treaty Bodies.

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

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.

China | Uyghur camp survivor reminds UN of duty to urgently start remote reporting

In an online discussion organised by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), Uyghur camp survivor Gülbahar Jalilova shared her story of long-term arbitrary detention. Her testimony echoes mounting evidence of human rights violations that call for systematic UN monitoring and public reporting.

China l Upcoming opportunities to protect human rights at the UN (May 2021 update)

The UN human rights mechanisms – whether we are talking about the Human Rights Council, the Treaty Bodies, or the Special Procedures independent experts – count on civil society engagement to help them do their jobs better. We provide here opportunities for inputs and participation focused on human rights in China, from now through the second half of 2021!

Treaty Bodies

Treaty Bodies

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

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Make no mistake | The dos and don'ts of treaty body strengthening

ISHR has released a new report presenting key tactics relating to the ongoing process of UN treaty body strengthening. Drawing lessons from previous processes and identifying some of the key challenges and opportunities currently facing the expert bodies, the report proposes seven building blocks to strengthen the core international human rights bodies effectively.