World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


UN strengthens key human rights reporting system

UN strengthens key human rights reporting system

Geneva, 10 April 2014 – International human rights reporting received a significant boost after the UN General Assembly on Wednesday approved steps to strengthen the system for reviewing how member states comply with their human rights treaty obligations.

The General Assembly resolution (A/68/L.37) aims to streamline and harmonise the work of 10 Geneva-based committees, known as Treaty Bodies. These committees, composed of independent experts, review how countries actually implement the international conventions they have ratified, for example the Convention against Torture (CAT) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

(Full list: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/Pages/HumanRightsBodies.aspx)

“The Treaty Bodies are at the heart of the international human rights protection system. Their work often sounds early warnings about human rights problems in particular states. They also offer real guidance for improvement in all countries and a substantive basis for the work of other human rights experts,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

“But new conventions and the growing number of ratifications, while very welcome, have stretched the system to breaking point. That’s why I called in 2009 for reflection on ways to strengthen the system. The steps now approved can provide a real way forward to make the treaty body system even more effective,” she said.

When a state ratifies a convention, it agrees to submit a report for review to the relevant committee every four to five years. Committee members, who are also briefed by civil society groups, request information from the state delegation during meetings in Geneva. The committee then issues its findings, highlighting areas of concern and making concrete recommendations for action.

However, the doubling in size of the treaty body system over the past decade, without matching resources, has led to a growing backlog of reports and lengthy gaps between reviews, with some states’ records yet to be assessed at all.

To address this, the resolution provides for an additional 20 weeks meeting time per year. Other planned measures to promote the sustainable and effective functioning of the Treaty Bodies include increased technical assistance from the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) to support states in meeting their treaty obligations; and more videoconferencing to facilitate wider participation by delegates from states parties, as was the case when the CRC reviewed the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu.

Funding for the changes and extra resources will come from savings made by streamlining the original Treaty Body system which was set up by the UN in 1970. This includes limits on the length of documents produced by the Treaty Bodies and also on the documentation submitted by States.

Interpretation and translation will be reduced from the current six official languages to a maximum of three, with a fourth provided on an exceptional basis when required. There will also be simplified procedures offered to States to submit reports.

“The human rights treaty body system has been facing unprecedented challenges in fulfilling its central goal, namely to protect the human rights of all without discrimination,” said Claudio Grossman, CAT and Chair of the Treaty Bodies’ Chairpersons. “These changes matter, but success will be measured by the system’s ability to offer more protection to individuals on the ground than is currently the case.”

The General Assembly resolution also reaffirms the independence of the committee members, who are unpaid experts nominated by states and elected onto the committees. It stresses the importance of committees having a balance in terms of the countries the experts are drawn from, professional background, and gender representation.

The resolution also condemns intimidation and reprisals against individuals or groups for their contribution to the work of the Treaty Bodies. Given the important role played by civil society in the process, committee members have repeatedly spoken out against reprisals targeting human rights defenders who provide information to them.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

What is a human rights treaty body?
Watch: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vE0T45t040k

Treaty Body strengthening process:
www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRTD/Pages/TBStrengthening.aspx

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Leaked: UK Counter-Terrorism Training Material

The PREVENT Strategy has permeated all aspects of public life in the UK. It is important that the training provided to public sector workers to implement the strategy is scrutinised for its empiricism. To this end, CAGE has released the most comprehensive leak of PREVENT training material so far. More>>

ALSO:

Weather: Aid Urgently Needed For Drought-Stricken Ethiopia

As the severity of ongoing drought in Ethiopia is exacerbated by the arid effects of ‘super El Nino’, ChildFund New Zealand is appealing to more New Zealanders to contribute to their growing aid response. More>>

'Very Concerned' After Court Ruling: UNHRC On Transfer Of 267 People From Australia To Nauru

Most of these people were reportedly brought to Australia from Nauru to receive medical treatment and are in a fragile physical and mental state. The group includes more than 12 women and at least one child who have allegedly suffered sexual assault or harassment while in Nauru. The group also includes 37 children born in Australia. More>>

ALSO:

Sanctions To Be Lifted: NZ Welcomes Implementation Of Iran Nuclear Deal

Duty Minister Nikki Kaye has welcomed the next stage in the historic nuclear deal between Iran, the Five Permanent (P5) members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany... “New Zealand has now started the domestic process for removing the UN sanctions." More>>

ALSO:

Pre-Davos Reports: 62 People Own Same Wealth As Half The World

Runaway inequality has created a world where 62 people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population – a figure that has fallen from 388 just five years ago, according to an Oxfam report published today ahead of the annual gathering of the world’s financial and political elites in Davos.. More>>

ALSO:

Jakarta: UN Secretary-General On Attacks

The Secretary-General condemns the bombings and gun attacks in Jakarta today... there is absolutely no justification for such acts of terrorism. He hopes the perpetrators of today's attacks will be swiftly brought to justice. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news