How to access and work with the human rights treaty bodies

Working with human rights treaty bodies has proved to be a very effective way for civil society to contribute to the implementation of human rights and the development of concrete human rights guidelines. At the national level, civil society plays a critical role through monitoring, promotional and follow-up activities relevant to the work of treaty bodies. The work of the human rights treaty bodies has benefited from the active participation of civil society actors in the various stages of the reporting cycle and in processes such as petitions, inquiries and early warning.

NGOs have traditionally been the main civil society actors engaging with the human rights treaty bodies, in particular at treaty body sessions. Other civil society actors, such as individual experts and human rights defenders, representatives of academic and research institutions, and members of professional groups, also frequently contribute to the treaty reporting process. Their involvement, in particular with regard to submitting information to a committee or attending a session, is often facilitated by NGOs familiar with and active in the reporting system of the human rights treaty bodies.

The modalities for the interaction of civil society actors vary from one human rights treaty body to another. These are set out in the Annex to chapter IV of OHCHR's publication Working with the United Nations Human Rights Programme: A Handbook for Civil Society.

All treaty bodies provide general information/guidelines for civil society organizations on participation in the work of the Committee, as well as specific information on participation for upcoming sessions of the treaty bodies. 

General information can be found on the webpage of each treaty body under the heading Participation in the work of the Committee / Information for Civil Society Organizations, while specific information can be found under the heading Sessions. Access the webpages of each treaty body here: