The informal meeting of Chairs of the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies (UNTBs) happening online from 2-5 June 2020 aims to exchange on the way forward in view of the current COVID-19 situation and challenges faced by Committees in their mandates. Read the High Commissioner opening statement.
TB-Net, an informal group of international NGOs and networks who work closely with 7 of the UN treaty bodies, is engaging in two ways in this informal meeting:
1. Joint statement
The UNTBs will play an essential role in reviewing States’ responses to COVID-19 and making them accountable for human rights violations. TB-Net therefore urges the UNTBs to remind States of their human rights obligations and to carry out their mandates despite technical and logistical challenges posed by the pandemic.
TB-Net is encouraging UNTBs to engage and interact online while maintaining the quality of their work as much as possible, taking into consideration the engagement of civil society in their decisions relating to online working methods including safe accessibility requirements. TB-Net could support the UNTBs to assess these decisions.
TB-Net also urges the UNTBs to swiftly proceed with the appointment of Committee positions in writing, including new Chairs.
On the 2020 review of the treaty body system, TB-Net encourages the UNTBs to adopt a fixed and coordinated calendar for reviews by all Committees, as disruptions caused by the pandemic are adding challenges in the unpredictability of reviews and potentially further delaying reporting by States parties. TB-Net also recommends greater coordination among the UNTBs on their substantive work, in particular in relation to General Comments and Concluding Observations, and further alignment of their working methods and procedures, which would improve the accessibility of the system for all stakeholders.
2. Reflexion paper to inform the Chairpersons’ discussion on working methods and tools in relation to COVID19
In its paper, TB-Net suggests:
- General principles regarding online work for the UNTBs;
- Requirements for all online meetings;
- Considerations on specific areas of work of the UNTBs (including individual communications, State reporting, General Comments and Days of Discussion);
- Key conclusions and recommendations for the Chairpersons and the UNTBs to take into account in decisions taken on any modification of future sessions and online working methods.