Treaty Bodies

The UN Treaty Bodies (or committees) are bodies “attached” to each of the nine core human rights treaties (conventions or covenants).

Each committee consists of independent human rights experts that monitor implementation of a respective treaty by its State Parties.
When a State ratifies a treaty, it becomes legally required to implement the provisions of that document and to follow the committee experts’ recommendations.

 

The Treaty Bodies’ methods of work include three main components: state periodic review, general comments and individual communication mechanisms.

LGBTI defenders can make their input to each of them, and ILGA is here to support you through the process. While none of the treaties contains explicit SOGIESC references, during last two decades the committees have developed a wide range of LGBTI human rights standards when interpreting the treaties. Each of the Committees has its own area of specialization, and many issues have been addressed differently by different committees.

If you want to engage with a specific committee, ILGA will be happy to provide you with all the information you need. You may also check our annual Treaty Bodies reports, where you will find disaggregated analysis of the committees’ SOGIESC references.

 

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How ILGA engages with the Treaty Bodies

ILGA provides member organisations with support and guidance on all the activities of the Treaty Bodies, where NGOs get to contribute in different moments. 

State periodic review

Every 3-5 years, State parties are obliged to report to relevant committees about their implementation of human rights treaties.
Apart from such “official” reports, the committees welcome “alternative” (or “shadow”) reports by civil society actors. LGBTI defenders may describe the situation of their communities and suggest questions, as well as recommendations for their governments. NGO representatives may also attend the committees’ sessions.

In 2016, ILGA supported more than 50 groups and organisations from all regions in their engagement with Treaty Bodies.
We are happy to provide guidelines and examples of SOGIESC shadow reports, to help LGBTI defenders elaborate their submissions, to support them during their visits to Geneva, and to advise them on follow-up activities to ensure that recommendations are implemented.

ILGA was greatly helpful not only logistically but also emotionally because lobbying at the UN sometimes can make one feel helpless and intimidated in front of experts.

General comments

Apart from examining country-specific situations, the committees also develop general interpretations of the human rights treaties in their general comments. Such documents may cover specific articles, rights or type of violations. Civil society actors usually have the opportunity to submit their written proposals on draft general comments, and sometimes also participate in General Discussion Days.

ILGA informs defenders about upcoming opportunities, and is happy to coordinate submissions on SOGIESC issues.
In 2017, for example, we submitted joint comments on equality and non-discrimination to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Individual communications

Most of the committees may examine individual cases of human rights violations. Two of the committees, the Human Rights Committee and the Committee against Torture, have already made decisions on sexual orientation and gender identity cases. Bringing an individual case to the UN Treaty Bodies could help achieving justice for a specific person, but also to foster more systemic changes affecting the whole community. If you are thinking of bringing a case to the UN Treaty Bodies, or if your case has been communicated already, contact us to get support.

 

But that is not all.
ILGA also analyses practices of the committees to identify gaps and recent developments from a broader prospective, and engage with committee members to ensure that they have general information about SOGIESC issues.

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