The Treaty Body strengthening process refers to an ongoing review by the United Nations of the functioning of the 10 human rights Treaty Bodies.
The review aims to examine the streamlining of reporting procedures, harmonising methods of work, financial matters, and other issues relating to the work of the Treaty Bodies.
The chairpersons of all the Treaty Bodies come together at their annual meeting to discuss the coordination of their activities and how to enhance the work of the Treaty Bodies individually and collectively. Informal consultations with States and civil society are also held in parallel.
The growth of the Treaty Bodies over the last 50 years has resulted in significant enhancement of human rights protection, but has also generated major challenges, such as the growing backlog of State reports, individual communications, and urgent actions; lack of predictability of state reviews; poor state compliance with reporting and implementation obligations; low visibility of Treaty Bodies and their recommendations (notably at the national level); multiplicity and complexity of working procedures; and lack of coordination or complementarity with other UN human rights bodies, especially the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
There have been attempts to tackle these challenges, but the majority of issues remain unresolved:
Where are we at now?
How can you engage?
The NGO Network on UN Treaty Bodies (TB-Net) includes seven INGOs, each of which have a dedicated relationship with one Treaty Body. Various joint initiatives are undertaken through this coalition and other NGO networks.
ISHR maintains a mailing list of NGOs interested in the Treaty Body strengthening process, through which joint NGO initiatives are proposed on a regular basis. To join the mailing list, contact ISHR at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also participate directly at the annual meeting of the Treaty Body chairs – there is usually space in the agenda for interaction with NGOs. Details on the annual meeting of Treaty Body chairs, including agenda and OHCHR contact details are available on the OHCHR webpage.
In the next section, you will learn what you can do to push your government to ratify a treaty.