UN treaty Committees are urged to follow up with States

Islamabad: The Institute for Social Justice (ISJ) Pakistan has requested the United Nations treaty bodies or Committees to follow up with the State parties every year (annually) on the implementation of the core international human rights treaties. In the absence of regular or annual follow up with the States, human rights situation is not improving. The ISJ has also shown its concerns that UN rather strengthening the treaty mechanism – being run through the Committees- has started working on other alternative mechanisms, which has minimized the importance of the Committees and recommendations being issued by these against the States’ periodic reports.

The ISJ said that after 4/5 years or sometimes after 10 years, the State parties submit their periodic reports to the Committees which is an obligation on each State party to treaties to take steps to ensure that everyone in the State can enjoy the rights set out in treaties and periodically report to the Committees. These Committees receive reports from the State parties and NGOs (alternative reports), and then issue their observations and recommendations against the State under review and usually urge the State parties for taking specific legal, administrative, financial and other measures for the protection of human rights. These Committees also receive complaints from the aggrieved bodies or persons. The most concerning issue is, once these Committees issue recommendations, then there is no follow up with the State parties. After five years, if the State party is willing or interested can submit report, if it does not, then there is no mechanism to follow up with State.

In order to improve the treaty body system and human rights conditions in the State parties, the ISJ proposed a model mechanism for addressing human rights violations through the Committees. All Committees should pick/select top 20 countries having extremely poor record of human rights or poor record against the specific treaty. Each treaty Committee should form a group of experts who should annually (every year) visit each country amongst the 20 countries. Each year, consultations in each 20 countries should take place with governments, civil society organizations and children, which should review progress of countries against recommendations and potential steps to remove obstacles in the implementation of the recommendations. For five years this exercise should be carried out in 20 countries. This annual review, update and follow up with the selected States will help the UN Committees to bring the human rights on the track in at least 20 countries.

The ISJ said that each year these treaty Committees should also issue progress reports against the recommendations and articles of the treaties. In addition, the ISJ urged that the communications between the Committees and the State parties should not be kept in secrete but should be shared with public. This way, it would be helpful to make the States as well as Committees accountable for the task they were made responsible for.

The ISJ said that the treaty Committees’ system is weak, which does not have power and follow up mechanism that is why implementation of the human rights treaties in countries like Pakistan has not become possible yet.