Strengthening treaty bodies, protecting human rights

What challenges and solutions for improving the work of UN treaty bodies?

In 2020, the United Nations (UN) will review the functioning of the ten human rights treaty bodies. While the issue has received some attention from the academic community, there has been only limited interest from states and international NGOs, and no engagement or consultation of national and local actors. The treaty bodies are far from perfect, but they have contributed to far-reaching changes and improvements in human rights protection. For many victims of human rights violations, they continue to constitute a last hope for justice. Their improvement and effective functioning is critical to the global human rights movement.

In advance of the UN review, OpenGlobalRights and the International Service for Human Rights want to stimulate more discussion on ways to improve the work of the treaty bodies. What are the main challenges facing the treaty bodies? What innovations have been tried to meet these challenges? What more can be done? What examples are there of the impact of the treaty bodies, and what lessons emerge from such cases? This series address these and related questions.


Strengthening treaty bodies, protecting human rights has been produced in collaboration with the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), and was launched in 2019.



UN treaty bodies advance LGBTI rights

October 22, 2019
By: Kseniya Kirichenko
Español | Русский

The UN treaty bodies are increasingly scrutinizing states’ treatment of LGBTI persons, and this is having ...

No more tinkering—real reform needed to UN human rights treaty monitoring

October 15, 2019
By: Navi Pillay
Español | Français

The human rights treaty bodies are central to human rights reform efforts, but are burdened by inefficiencies. ...

UN human rights mechanisms proving effective SDGs monitor

July 4, 2019
By: Steven L. B. Jensen
Español | Français | العربية

The SDGs are mostly aligned with human rights objectives—to emphasize this, the UN human rights mechanisms ...

UN Human Rights Committee brings new vitality to the right to life

February 13, 2019
By: Lucy McKernan & Bret Thiele

Through its expanding jurisprudence on the right to life, the UN Human Rights Committee has given advocates ...

UN standard-setting continues apace

January 29, 2019
By: Gordon DiGiacomo

Work at the UN is progressing on several fronts to agree new human rights standards – the topics reflecting ...

Taking stock—the Universal Periodic Review's achievements and opportunities

August 11, 2016
By: Aoife Hegarty & Hans Fridlund

After 10 years, the UN’s Universal Periodic Review mechanism for scrutinizing Member States’ human rights ...

A treaty to protect the rights of older people is long overdue!

May 30, 2016
By: Gordon Digiacomo & Martine Lagacé

As the world’s population ages, now is the time to begin work on a treaty to give explicit protection ...