UN Treaty Bodies

Eight of the international human rights treaties drafted under the auspices of the United Nations establish bodies to monitor compliance with their provisions. The role of each committee of experts is set out in the relevant treaty it oversees. Each committee receives and comments on States Parties’ reports regarding their compliance with the treaty’s provisions (concluding observations), and publishes general comments which flesh out the interpretation of each treaty’s provisions.  Some may also receive inter-State complaints.

Five of the UN treaty bodies may also receive and decide individual complaints (or communications) regarding alleged violations, against those States which accepted the individual complaints mechanism by signing the relevant protocol or submitting the necessary declaration to the treaty.  Individual complaints mechanisms will become operational for two additional treaties, when the necessary ratifications have been made.  While those decisions themselves are not generally considered binding on States, they do represent reasoned interpretation of the relevant treaty to which the States Parties have agreed to be legally bound.

The eight United Nations treaty bodies are:

Access the UN’s compilations of general comments of the Human Rights Committee and Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (here) and of the CERD, CEDAW, CAT and CRC committees (here).

Search the treaty bodies’ decisions, concluding observations on States’ reports, and general comments on treaty provisions most effectively through the SIM database and other resources listed in the Jurisprudence Databases section of this blog.  See reports on the situations in Member States on the websites of each treaty body (listed here), where you will also find the general comments.

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