United Nations Treaty Body Review: Informal Consultations 28 August 2020 | Oral Statement

Full pdf oral statement (ENG)

See LRWC’s full briefing paper

See the informal consultations on the review of the United Nations human rights treaty body system: New York: 27 July 2020. Geneva: 28 August 2020, morning and afternoon (video). 


Fundamental pillars of the UN human rights system:

Expertise, Independence, and Impartiality of UN Human Rights Treaty Body Members

On 28 August 2020, LRWC Executive Director Catherine Morris made an online oral statement during an informal UN consultation in Geneva, part of a review of the UN Treaty Body system undertaken by the UN General Assembly. Since June 2020, consultations with States, National Human Rights Institutions, and civil society have been taking place as part of a UN Treaty Body Strengthening Process that has been ongoing for more than a decade. The 2020 review process is mandated by GA Resolution 68/268 adopted in 2014. Resolution 68/268 also mandates biennial reports by the UN Secretary-General on the status of the Treaty Body system.

Each of the core UN human rights treaties contains provisions for periodic election of members of a “Committee” by the States Parties to the treaty. The Committees are known as “Treaty Bodies.” The treaties set out the duties of the Treaty Bodies, the qualifications of Treaty Body members, including independence and expertise, and the overall composition of the Treaty Bodies, which, in general, call for inclusion of persons from diverse regions and legal systems. The effectiveness of the Treaty Bodies in improving States Parties’ human rights performance has been documented for States that regularly engage with the Treaty Bodies’ processes. However, numerous reports have raised concerns about chronic backlogs, complexity of working methods, spotty State compliance with Treaty Body recommendations, underfunding, and understaffing. Over the years, persistent concerns about Treaty Body independence, expertise, gender balance, and adequacy of resources have increased in volume and intensity. Ms. Morris’s oral statement had its focus on the issue of independence and expertise of the Treaty Bodies, including gender balance and adequacy of funding to carry out their mandates. Read the full oral statement.