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1. Understanding the Treaty Bodies

1.3 What can the Treaty Bodies do for you?

This section explains the functions and characteristics of the Treaty Bodies with metaphors to show practical ways the Treaty Bodies can assist you in your work.


Although Treaty Body members are elected by States, they are considered and expected to be impartial and independent from their government once elected.


Treaty Body members are experts in international human rights law, and on the specific theme or area of focus of the treaty that they monitor. Many Treaty Body members are well known international experts in a particular human rights field.

Once a country has ratified a particular treaty, it is bound to act in compliance with the treaty provisions and with the decisions and recommendations of the Treaty Body which monitors that treaty.


Treaty Bodies are easily accessed by human rights defenders. Your organisation does not need ECOSOC consultative status to engage with the Treaty Bodies, nor do you need to be in Geneva. You can submit information to Treaty Bodies without any UN accreditation, and you do not need to be a legal expert to engage with them.

Detailed and concrete

Of the UN human rights mechanisms, Treaty Bodies produce some of the most detailed and concrete recommendations, looking closely at specific issues in a particular country. Their decisions and recommendations are based on international human rights law.

Not sure if the Treaty Bodies are the right tool for you?

There's much more information to come on the different ways the Treaty Bodies can be used to strengthen your advocacy.

If you wish to check if there might be another mechanism better suited to your needs, you can use this Comparison Table to quickly assess the Treaty Bodies against other UN human rights mechanisms.

The UN Human Rights Mechanisms Comparison Table can also be downloaded here.

Now it's time to get into the detail of what the Treaty Bodies can and cannot do.

Learn more

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