The outcome of the treaty body strengthening process: workshop on 9 May 2014 in Geneva

May 6, 2014

While not directly about Human Rights Defenders, this workshop organised by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN and others (see below) is of great importance to HRDs as they are the ones who provide most of the information to the Treaty Bodies, and are often the victims of the violations reported, including reprisals against them for having cooperated. Thus, this meeting on “The outcome of the treaty body strengthening process: Lessons learnt, implications and implementation” should be of interest to all. It takes place on 9 May 2014, 9.30am to 1pm in Room XXII, Palais des Nations, Geneva.

The UN’s human rights treaties and the ten bodies of independent experts they create
are critical components of the international human rights framework. The treaty bodies carry
out important functions including clarifying the scope of the human rights obligations laid out
in the treaties and evaluating states’ compliance with them. Yet as a result of several
challenges confronting the system, the treaty bodies have yet to realise their full potential to
catalyse greater protection of rights-holders worldwide.

The UN has undertaken a number of efforts to address these challenges over the past
thirty years. In 2009, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, initiated her own
initiative: a multi-stakeholder process aimed at ‘strengthening’ the treaty bodies. This effort
initiated a series of meetings and provoked substantial reflection by current and former treaty
body experts, civil society organisations, national human rights institutions, the UN
secretariat, academics, and member states. In 2012, the High Commissioner published her
report on the process, endorsing many thoughtful recommendations that emerged from the

In February 2012, anticipating the publication of the High Commissioner’s report, a
group of states called on the General Assembly to initiate its own intergovernmental reform
process. This state-led process concluded with the General Assembly’s adoption of an
outcome resolution on 9th April 2014.

The outcome of the reform process has important implications for all those who are
part of, interact with or depend upon the treaty body system. It has important implications for
the treaty bodies themselves and the level of secretariat support and resources at their
disposal. It has important implications for states submitting reports under the human rights
treaties and interacting with the treaty bodies. It has implications for NGOs, human rights
defenders and the victims of human rights violations seeking to present information to or seek
the support of treaty bodies. And there are implications and lessons for other parts of the
international human rights system.

Open dialogue
In order to discuss the results of the recently concluded treaty body reform process, to
consider lessons learned and to look at the implementation of the outcome, the Permanent
Missions of Ireland, Morocco, Poland and Switzerland, and in partnership with the Universal
Rights Group (URG) and the Geneva Academy, will convene a half-day open dialogue. The
meeting will include introductory remarks and a panel discussion.

Draft programme
9.30am – 10.30am    Introductory remarks
– Mr. Alexandre Fasel, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United
Nations Office at Geneva
– Ms. Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights (TBC)
Short interventions by cosponsoring delegations

Panel: Outcome of the treaty body strengthening process: lessons learnt, implications
and implementation

Professor Andrew Clapham, Geneva Academy


  • Outcome of the process and implications for the state reporting process Professor Michael O’Flaherty, former vice-chair of the Human Rights Committee, member of the Board of Trustees of the URG
  • Human Rights Treaty Bodies: where to from here? Professor Malcolm D. Evans, Chair of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture
  • Human Rights Treaties Division: implications and implementation Dr. Ibrahim Salama, Director, Human Rights Treaties Division, OHCHR
  • The implications of the reform outcome for NGOs, human rights defenders and victims Ms. Tania Baldwin-Pask, International Advocacy Program, Amnesty International

Question and answer session.

One Response to “The outcome of the treaty body strengthening process: workshop on 9 May 2014 in Geneva”

  1. […] (my earlier posts on TBs include:… and as well as […]

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