HIC issues open Letter to UN leadership concerning the neglect of the Treaty Body System

HIC sees this as a current indicator of a widerchallenge to the rule of law in the weakening of vital institutions and civilising
principles of international law and world order. For this reason, HIC and HLRN have written an open letter to key authorities within the UN-System and, in particular, its Human Rights component concerning the neglect of the Treaty Body System.

As a civil organization in special consultative status with the United Nations through ECOSOC, HIC maintains a long-standing relationship with the United Nations and history ofcooperative engagement. Witnessing the apparent neglect and decline of the UN Treaty System compels us to speak out with alarm, specially at this time of increased need for human rights work, challenges to human rights culture and the urgency of states’ fulfilment of their human rights obligations.

For civil society organisations, affected communities and individual human rights defenders, the Treaty Bodies provide an indispensable space in which they can localise international law to express themselves and find validation for human rights struggles in their home countries. Their parallel reports, testimonies and interpretive contributions have been crucial
to upholding and further developing the norms and the obligations that the law confers upon all organs of the treaty-bound state.

Now more than ever, we need a corrective course of action.

Human Rights victims and defenders look to the leadership of the UN Secretariat, the Human Rights Council, ECOSOC, the Security Council, OHCHR and the Human Rights Treaty Bodies to:

  • Publicly call upon Member States to meet their assessed contributions and provide extrabudgetary funding to correct the distortion of the UN System resulting from the current budget shortfall;
  • Manage resources and efforts from the ‘higher vantage point’ promised in the longer-term positioning of the UN Development System, namely to ensure that the operational mandate and further development of the Treaty Bodies are sufficiently resourced;
  • Ensure that no regular Treaty Body review sessions be curtailed by the present shortfall;
  • Expound on the need for, and advantages of giving prominence to state obligations under treaty, general principles and peremptory norms of international law, as well as the Human Rights Treaty Bodies’ observations, recommendations, interpretive instruments and reporting requirements (including data submissions) in SDG implementation,
    indicator development, monitoring, reporting and performance-evaluation processes;
  • Set an example to prioritise states’ human rights obligations in their UPR and HLPF reviews;
  • Emphasise the message that the General Assembly’s 2020 review be a process that requires strengthening and further developing the Treaty System. HIC reaffirms the pledge to do its part.

The General Assembly 2020 evaluative process must remain true to its original intent of Strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system as the base of the legal function and human rights pillar of the System. References to the process must not be only to an ambiguous review that, in this day and age, risks to be construed as ‘repeal and replace.’ We are no longer at a point of mere gloomy speculation. This is a moment of truth for the paramountcy of human rights and,
at once, the integrity of the UN System.

As a civil-society voice at this critical juncture, HIC can do no less than to rally Members, affiliates and allies to the cause of maintaining and further building the Human Rights Treaty System, including the Treaty Bodies. In doing so, we also count on your good efforts. With so much at stake in today’s changing climate, further erosion of the Treaty Body System would herald irreversible losses to us all.

You can read the full letter and the accompanying statement

Source Image: Jaurocks at Wikimedia Commons

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