Inquiry procedure

Inquiry reports

Access to inquiry reports ... 

Description of the inquiry procedure

Upon receipt of reliable information on serious, grave or systematic violations by a State party of rights set forth in the Conventions they monitor, the Committee against Torture (article 20 CAT), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (article 8 of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW), the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (article 6 Optional Protocol to CRPD), the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (article 33 of CED), the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (article 11 of the Optional Protocol to ICESCR) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (article 13 of the Optional Protocol (on a communications procedure) to CRC) may initiate confidential inquiries.

Which States may be subject to inquiries?

Inquiries may only be conducted with respect to States parties that have recognized the competence of the relevant Committee in this regard. States parties may opt out from the inquiry procedure, at the time of signature or ratification or accession (article 28 CAT; article 10 of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW; article 8 of the Optional Protocol to CRPD; article 13(7) of the Optional Protocol (on a communications procedure) to CRC) or anytime (article 11(8) of the Optional Protocol to ICESCR) by making a declaration that they do not recognize the competence of the Committee in question to conduct inquiries.

Inquiry Procedure

  1. The procedure may be initiated if the Committee receives reliable information indicating that the rights contained in the Convention it monitors are being systematically violated by the State party.
  2. The Committee invites the State party to co-operate in the examination of the information by submitting observations.
  3. The Committee may, on the basis of the State party's observations and other relevant information available to it, decide to designate one or more of its members to conduct an inquiry and report urgently to the Committee. Where warranted and with the consent of the State party concerned, an inquiry may include a visit to its territory.
  4. The findings of the member(s) are then examined by the Committee and transmitted to the State party together with any comments and recommendations.
  5. The State party is requested to submit its own observations on the Committee's findings, comments and recommendations within a specific time frame (usually six months) and, where invited by the Committee, to inform it of the measures taken in response to the inquiry.
  6. The inquiry procedure is confidential and the cooperation of the State party shall be sought at all stages of the proceedings.

Guidance to sources of information

When submitting information for an Inquiry under Article 13 of the Optional protocol, the submission should:

  • Indicate the State party alleged to be violating rights under the Convention;
  • Be written in one of the United Nations languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish);
  • Provide a factual description of the alleged violations and indicate the rights under the Convention which are alleged to have been infringed by these violations and, where possible, should indicate the extent to which infringement of these rights by the State party is grave or systematic;
  • Consist of a maximum of 7000 words excluding annexes. The document should be written in a succinct manner without use of abusive language and must contain supportive data, in annexes, which may be referred to in the body of the submission;
  • Contain relevant documents, in an official United Nations language, that support the submission. All annexes to the submission should be numbered consecutively and indexed by the date of the document and each should be accompanied by a short description; and
  • Not be exclusively based on reports disseminated by mass media.

The sources of information should ensure that:

  • The submission is, preferably, in a typed format but if handwritten, it should be legible
  • Basic personal information is provided on the individual(s) or the non-governmental organisation(s) which they represent such as name, postal address, phone number and e-mail address; and
  • If they do not wish their personal identity or that of the non-governmental organisation which they represent to be disclosed, this should be indicated in the submission.

Submitting information under the inquiry procedure

Sources of information can submit information under the inquiry procedure to the following email address:

Country-specific information