Treaty Body Strengthening

UN PhotoThe 10 Treaty Bodies constitute a fundamental pillar of the international human rights protection system.

The Treaty Body System has grown exponentially since the establishment of the first treaty body in 1969 and doubled in size over the last decade– a growth which has greatly enhanced human rights protection.

However, the growth of the Treaty Body System does not come without challenges. Some of these challenges include:

  • A growing backlog of State reports, individual communications, and urgent actions
  • Insufficient compliance by States parties with their reporting obligations
  • Diverging working methods among the treaty bodies

Since 1988, four major initiatives have been taken by the UN to enhance the effectiveness of the treaty body system:

  1. The reports by Independent Expert Philip Alston (1988 – 1996)
  2. The UN Secretary-General’s proposal of a single report (2002 – 2006)
  3. High Commissioner Arbour’s proposal of a unified standing treaty body (2006)
  4. The treaty body strengthening process, which resulted in General Assembly resolution 68/268 (2009 – 2014)

Resolution 68/268 comprises two review mechanisms:

  • A biennial report by the UN Secretary-General on the state of the treaty body system
  • An overall review of the effectiveness of the measures taken pursuant to resolution 68/268 no later than 2020

Resolution 73/162 adopted on 17 December 2018

  • Requests that the UN Secretary-General submits his biennial report in January 2020, which will be the third one (two previous reports were submitted in 2016 and 2018)
  • The biennial report is requested in advance of the 2020 review of the treaty body system, which should take place no later than 2020

Resolution 75/174 adopted on 16 December 2020

  • Reiterates its request, made in paragraph 40 of its resolution 68/268, that the Secretary-General submit to the General Assembly at its seventy-seventh session a report on the status of the human rights treaty body system.

UN Secretary-General's report on the status of the Human Rights Treaty Body System

General information

Elections for treaty body members
Treaty body strengthening
The United Nations Human Rights Treaty System (Rev.1)
A | E | R | S
What is a human rights treaty body? – a short video
Working Methods I
E | F |  S
Working Methods II
E | F | S
Rules of Procedure
A | C | E | R | S
Glossary of terms
Press Releases

Coordination between the treaty bodies

Consideration of State party reports
Consideration of individual complaints
Note for the State Parties
E | R​
Conduct inquiries
Adoption of general comments

Guidelines against Intimidation or Reprisals (San José Guidelines)

Reporting to the Committees