A new policy brief has just been published on the outcome of recent negotiations at the United Nations to reform the ten independent expert committees that review States’ performance under the core international human rights treaties (the "treaty bodies"). Authored by JBI Associate Director Christen Broecker and Professor Michael O’Flaherty of the National University of Ireland in Galway, and published by the Universal Rights Group in Geneva, the policy brief makes it clear that in the wake of this process there remains a long way to go to strengthen the treaty bodies.
The outcome of the recent UN reform effort, carried out by Member States at the UN General Assembly in New York from February 2012 to April 2014, makes important changes to way the UN allocates the resources it already devotes to the treaty bodies and encourages the treaty bodies to bring their procedures into greater harmony; these changes could improve the functioning of the treaty bodies. However, the outcome does relatively little to press States to engage more meaningfully with the treaty bodies and to ensure better compliance with their reporting and human rights obligations under the core international human rights treaties. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights undertook a reform initiative of her own from 2009 to 2012 that identified a number of measures that could increase procedural and substantive compliance with the human rights treaties. Going forward, it will be important for all stakeholders of the UN treaty bodies to reflect back on the wider reforms advocated by the High Commissioner and to continue to seek to improve the treaty bodies’ contribution to achieving more effective protection of rights-holders worldwide.