- What are the UN treaty bodies?
- What do the treaty bodies do?
- How individuals can use mechanisms of the UN to submit complaints
- More information
What are the UN treaty bodies?
There are two types of bodies responsible for promoting and monitoring human rights within the United Nations. The first type includes those created under the UN Charter, including the Human Rights Council and the Special Procedures, and the second are the treaty bodies. Most of these bodies receive support from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The Treaty Bodies of the United Nations are committees composed of independent experts. They are responsible for monitoring how ‘State Parties’ (i.e. those States that have ratified the treaty in question) implement the treaty.
When a country ratifies one of these treaties, it assumes a legal obligation to implement the rights recognised in that treaty.
There are currently nine human rights treaty bodies that monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties:
1. Human Rights Committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , 1966 by its State Parties.
Event: find out when the HRC is in session
2. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties. The Committee was established under ECOSOC Resolution 1985/17 of 28 May 1985 to carry out the monitoring functions assigned to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Part IV of the Covenant.
3. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) monitors implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1965;
4. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women 1979;
5. The Committee Against Torture (CAT) monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment , 1984
See also: Special Rapporteur on Torture and CRC Article 37
6. The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 and its Optional Protocols.
7. The Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) monitors implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families 1990.
There are a further two treaties which do not yet have a monitoring body as they have not yet entered into force. These are:
- International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (2006)
8. The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006
9. The Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) monitors the implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 2006
The Activities of the treaty bodies include:
- Examining State Party reports and issuing Concluding Observations on States’ compliance to the Treaty.
- Considering individual complaints or communications
Only the following four Committees can, under certain conditions, receive petitions from individuals who claim that their rights under the treaties have been violated.
- The HRC may consider individual communications relating to States parties to the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR;
- The CEDAW may consider individual communications relating to States parties to the Optional Protocol to CEDAW;
- The CAT may consider individual communications relating to States parties who have made the necessary declaration under article 22 of CAT;
- The CERD may consider individual communications relating to States parties who have made the necessary declaration under article 14 of ICERD.
- The Convention on Migrant Workers also contains provision for allowing individual communications to be considered by the CMW; these provisions will become operative when 10 states parties have made the necessary declaration under article 77.
- The CRPD can receive complaints from or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals where the relevant State Party has ratified the Optional Protocol to its Convention
- The CED can receive complaints from or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals, where the relevant State has made a declaration to that effect
- Publishing ‘General Comments’ which are interpretations of thematic issues or methods of work within a treaty. See the General Comments of the CRC here. To view all General Comments of all treaty bodies, visit the website of the OHCHR.
- General Discussion Days are thematic discussions organised by treaty bodies to examine an issue. These are public meetings which normally result in the Committee issuing recommendations on the issue examined.
- Complaints procedures of the treaty bodies
- Ratification status of the treaties
- OHCHR Factsheet
- DVD/Training tool on the work of the treaty bodies