This section provides information on how to input into the process of developing a general comment or general recommendation - and how to influence its contents.
It follows from the last section on General comments – Why are they useful?
Providing input into general comments is a useful way for human rights defenders to contribute to the formulation of policy and jurisprudence based on their own context, work and practice.
You can either assist members of a Treaty Body by making submissions in regard a proposed general comment or you can make suggestions to develop a new general comments on topics of your interest and relevant to the core human rights treaties.
The process for developing and adopting general comments includes three stages: consultation, drafting, and adoption. Some Treaty Bodies choose to incorporate expert advice from various stakeholders, including NGOs, into the text of the general comments.
Who can submit information?
Anyone can provide input to a general comment – individuals or organisations. There is no requirement that organisations need to have ECOSOC status.
Be sure to also:
And don't forget to provide your contact details in your submission (name, organisation, email address, phone number)!
Where and when to submit?
You can make your submission to a proposed general comment either in written form, or verbally during the days of general discussion (see below).
Written submissions should be sent directly to the Secretariat of the relevant Treaty Body and only in electronic form in Word (so that translations can be made of your submission). Contact details of the Treaty Body Secretariats can be found on each individual Treaty Body webpage.
Examples of NGO input to draft general comments:
Suggesting a new topic for a general comment
Days of General Discussion
NGOs may influence the substantive work of the Treaty Bodies either through providing input into the need for, or on the content of, a general comment, or by drawing the attention of Treaty Body members to issues of concern through a thematic discussion.
Some Treaty Bodies convene ‘days of general discussion’ to examine a particular theme or issue of concern. Such public sessions are open to external participants such as UN organisations, State delegations, NGOs, and experts. These sessions may also be used to discuss drafts of general comments, and this is a good opportunity for you to present suggestions on the content of general comments and get a chance to interact face to face with the Treaty Body authors of the general comments.
Examples of submissions to push for the development of general comments:
In 2010, CESCR held a day of general discussion on the right to sexual and reproductive health where it examined articles of the ICESCR with the aim of producing a general comment. NGOs and other stakeholders were able to make written submissions.
Click here for a full list of participants and written submission
Final General Comment No. 22 (2016) on the right to sexual and reproductive health (ICESCR article 12)
See also information on the CESCR General Discussion on the right to land (October 2019). The upcoming general comment on the right to land is a direct result of advocacy by several organisations. Link includes background information, agenda of the general discussion, and a list of NGO submissions.
See the next sections on how you can engage in Treaty Body inquiries, as well as early warnings and urgent actions.