TB-Net (NGO Network on UN Treaty Bodies), Amnesty International and the International Service for Human Rights sent a joint submission on the UN human rights treaty body system for the UN Secretary-General’s report to the General Assembly.

Our key claims are:

1. Importance of the Treaty Body System: The UN treaty bodies are a fundamental part of an effective human rights system. Their independence to carry out their functions must be ensured, States should provide them with the space, support and necessary funding to carry out their mandate.

2. COVID-19 Pandemic and the Treaty Body System: We appreciate efforts made by the UNTBs, the OHCHR and the United Nations Office at Geneva to ensure the partial continuation of the UNTBs’ work, despite technical and logistical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Online reviews of States parties piloted by all UNTBs with opportunities for civil society organisations to engage were a significant step forward in the absence of in-person reviews. The UNTBs should build on these promising practices to strengthen and expand their engagement with State delegations and civil society by allowing hybrid participation. While we acknowledge the difficulty in planning future sessions during the pandemic, we recommend that when decisions are taken in relation to future sessions:

  • Recommendations from CSOs are taken into account in decisions on modalities;
  • Full, meaningful and safe civil society engagement is enabled, with flexibility, inclusivity, and accessibility and reasonable accommodation for participants with disabilities, including the possibility to engage remotely via online communication tools as an option;
  • Decisions are immediately and widely communicated with sufficient anticipation; and
  • Information on any modification of future sessions is shared, accompanied by the explanation of the rationale for the decision, in a timely manner to allow transparency and predictability of the process.

3. Petitions: We are deeply concerned by the fact that the OHCHR Petitions and Urgent Action Section continues to be under-resourced. We reiterate our calls to States to adequately fund and support this crucial function of the UNTBs and we call on States to support the swift development of a case management system.

4. Quality, Independent and Diverse Treaty Body Membership: We urge States to establish a transparent and merit-based nomination process and to cooperate with civil society, the OHCHR and the UNTBs in such processes, and to share good practices that can be consolidated on the OHCHR website.