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UN budget shortfalls seriously undermine the work of the Human Rights Treaty bodies

GENEVA (17 May 2019) — The ten United Nations human rights treaties are legally binding treaties, adopted by the UN General Assembly and ratified by States. Each Treaty establishes a treaty body (or Committee) comprising elected independent experts who seek to ensure that States parties fulfil their legal obligations under the Conventions. This system of independent scrutiny of the conduct of States by independent experts is a key element of the United Nations human rights system, supported by secretariats in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In April this year, the Chairpersons of all 10 treaty bodies* were informed that six of them are very likely to have sessions in 2019 cancelled for financial reasons – an unprecedented consequence of some UN member States delaying payments due to the organisation.

This means that reviews already scheduled with States, as well as consideration of complaints by individual victims of serious human rights violations - including torture, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances – will not take place as scheduled. The cancellation of sessions will also have numerous other negative consequences, and will seriously undermine the system of protections which States themselves have put in place over decades.

The Chairpersons of the ten Committees are deeply concerned about the practical consequences of cancelling these sessions and have sent a letter to the UN Secretary General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, requesting that they, together with Member States, find ways of addressing this situation, as a matter of urgency.

* The 10 UN human rights treaty bodies are:
The Human Rights Committee
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The Committee against Torture
The Committee on Migrant Workers
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
The Committee on the Rights of the Child
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture


The Committee Against Torture will hold a press conference at 12:30 today in Press Room III in the Palais des Nations to release its concluding observations on Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The concluding observations will also be posted on-line on the session Web page.  

Contact: Jens Modvig, Chair, Committee against Torture, jmo@dignity.dk
For media inquiries, please contact Julia Grønnevet at +41 (0) 22 917 9310 jgronnevet@ohchr.org.