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1. Understanding the Treaty Bodies

1.12 Why engage with the 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.

In this section you will find some tools and information to help you to consider whether the Treaty Bodies would be useful to you – is it the right mechanism for you to achieve your goals?

Strengths

they highlight situations of concern and promote accountability for violations of human rights
they can take up individual communications or complaints
they work very closely with civil society, relying on NGO input to define the issues and cases they examine and to help monitor State parties’ implementation of treaties.
you can easily engage with them, including from your home country, and you don’t need ECOSOC status to do so
they are independent and expert
they contribute to the development of international human rights standards and principles
they are a quasi-judicial mechanism; their recommendations and decisions are concise and thorough, and are based on binding international norms

Weaknesses


they struggle with non-compliance by States in regard to reporting obligations
they have limited enforcement mechanisms when States do not abide by their obligations
they are chronically under-resourced, which means they:

  • respond to a limited number of individual communications
  • encounter long delays in considering State reports and individual communications
  • struggle to focus on follow-up or assessing implementation of their recommendations and decisions

their working methods and procedures are different across Treaty Bodies, and often difficult to understand

Situations where it might not be worth engaging

you would be put in too much danger by engaging with the Treaty Bodies
you have access to other spaces that you can use more effectively to influence your State


Continue to the next section to test your understanding of what you’ve learnt in this chapter!

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