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The UN Human Rights Treaty System

Universality at the Crossroads

Anne Bayefsky

Human rights treaties are at the core of the international system for the promotion and protection of human rights. Every UN member state has ratified at least one of these treaties, making them applicable to virtually every child, woman or man in the world - over six billion people. At the same time, human rights violations are rampant. The problem is that the implementation scheme accompanying the core human rights standards was drafted during a period of history when effective international monitoring was neither intended nor achievable.
Today there is a gap between universal right and remedy that is inescapable and inexcusable, threatening the integrity of the international human rights legal regime. There are overwhelming numbers of overdue reports, untenable backlogs, minimal individual complaints from vast numbers of potential victims, and widespread refusal of states to provide remedies when violations of individual rights are found.
This landmark Report prepared by Professor Bayefsky envisions a wide-ranging number of reforms, most of which can be accomplished without formal amendment. The recommendations generally assume a six treaty body regime, and focus primarily on offering concrete suggestions for improvements in working methods of the treaty bodies and procedures at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Professor Bayefsky details numerous proposals for bolstering national level partnerships, and for following-up the output of the treaty monitoring system as a key missing component of the implementation regime. One major reform requiring amendment is ultimately recommended, namely, consolidation of the human rights treaty bodies and the creation of two permanent committees, one for the consideration of state reports and one for complaints.
All individuals, agencies, and organizations involved in the promotion, implementation, review, analysis, and study of human rights protection for all peoples will find this Report an indispensable resource for their work. It contains a unique overview of all the working methods of the six human rights treaty bodies, a detailed and thorough statistical analysis of the operation of the human rights treaty system, and a number of additional annexes which together provide a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the treaty system.
The international human rights legal system is at a crossroads, with the ideal of universality threatened by the fundamental shortfalls in effective implementation. This Report offers a clear and substantive path to moving universality beyond rhetoric and towards a treaty regime meaningful and effective in the lives of everyday people.

Jennifer Y Kallie, Claire E Brolan and Nicola C Richards

Organization 645. 26 ‘The United Nations Human Rights Treaty System: An introduction to the core human rights treaties and the treaty bodies’ ( ohchr , 2005) < www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/FactSheet30en.pdf > accessed 8 October 2015. 27 Gunilla Backman and others, ‘Health Systems And The

Edited by Anne Bayefsky

Every United Nations member state is part of the human rights treaty system through the ratification of at least one of the six major human rights treaties, rendering universal participation a reality. For human rights victims, the treaty system is of central importance because international legal standards may offer benefits which political fora may not: the potential to generate remedies, attention, accessiblity.
At the same time, the implementation mechanisms associated with the human rights treaties were designed at a time when the argument that international interest in human rights was an interference in domestic jurisdiction was at its peak. The challenge for the 21st Century is to move the theory of universality of international human rights standards towards effective implementation of human rights obligations.
This book is a major contribution to the effort to focus attention on effective implementation of the human rights treaties. The contributors examine the major implementation shortfalls of the UN human rights treaty system, and offer concrete recommendations as to where future implementations efforts should be placed.
The contributors are in a unique position to formulate and share their insights. They are drawn from among all of the constituencies involved in the human rights treaty system: the treaty bodies themselves, the NGO community, the UN secretariat, regional human rights regimes, UN agencies, UN human rights actors from the Human Rights Commission, the judiciary and academia.
The book also includes, as a unique resource, all of the major documents concerning the UN human rights treaty system: the text of the treaties, the text of all amendments, statistics on individual communications to the treaty bodies, the text of all meetings of the chairpersons of the treaty bodies, reports and commentaries submitted to the UN Human Rights Commission, recent resolutions of the Human Rights Commission and the General Assembly on the human rights treaties, reform proposals by the International Law Association, regional human rights instruments.
In the words of Philip Alston, the author of the UN report on enhancing the long-term effectiveness of the UN human rights treaty system, Professor Bayefsky's work `...has been more systematic and comprehensive, and has continued over a longer period of time, than any other comparable sholarly work on the subject.' (March 2000)
In this volume Professor Bayefsky has collected the views of a range of authors immersed in the contribution and welfare of the UN human rights treaty system in the 21st century. It is necessary text for all those interested in the future of the international protection of human rights.

Paul Szasz

This work is an in-depth examination of the monitoring controls in some of the world’s major international organizations and other treaty regimes. The editor, one of the foremost and most experienced authorities in this specialized but crucially important field, shows how monitoring is used in the common interest to ensure the stability and growth of global standards in such diverse areas as human rights, environmental protection and arms control.

Published under the Transnational Publishers imprint.

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Edited by Felice D. Gaer and Christen L. Broecker

In this first systematic examination of the role of the top United Nations human rights official, editors Felice Gaer and Christen Broecker analyze the achievements, leadership styles of, and obstacles encountered by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and propose recommendations for the future. The editors are joined by 18 expert contributors including present and former UN policymakers, human rights practitioners, legal scholars, and current High Commissioner Navi Pillay. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Conscience for the World examines how the six individuals who have served in this post have worked to end atrocities, hold perpetrators of abuses to account, promote equality and justice, and provide protection and redress to victims.

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Bertrand G. Ramcharan

This book has a simple objective: to present the fundamentals of international human rights treaty law in a way that can be helpful to the national leader, official, or legal adviser whose duty it is to help put a human rights treaty regime into the law and practice in his or her country. It is a book of international law, as provided for in the principal international and regional human rights treaties and draws upon the jurisprudence and practice of their monitoring organs. Chapter I discusses the nature and characteristics of international human rights law. Chapter II discusses the concept of a national protection system which must be in place if a human rights treaty is to be adequately implemented. Chapter III discusses the jurisprudence and practice of treaty bodies on the foundation issues of democracy and the rule of law. Chapter IV discusses human rights in times of crises and emergencies. Chapter V discusses preventive strategies. Chapter VI discusses the duty of Governments to respect, to protect and to ensure human rights. Chapter VII discusses the duty of Governments to provide redress for violations that might take place. Chapter VIII discusses the essence of supervision in reporting systems. Chapter IX discusses the essence of petitions and fact-finding procedures. Chapter X concludes with a discussion of the bedrock principles of universality, equality and justice as they emerge from the jurisprudence and practice of human rights treaty bodies.

Manisuli Ssenyonjo

Rights in chapter 7 (pp. 137-148). It also examines the unequal representation and participation of women in the international treaty body system of human rights monitoring in chapter 8 (pp. 151-170); strengthening the relationship between the UN treaty bodies and non-government organisations in chapter

Alfredsson

principal organs and the various human rights institutions, the independent treaty-monitoring bodies, other UN organs involved in human rights work and the specialized agencies belonging to the family of UN organizations. The activities of regional organizations such as the Council of Europe and the

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Karen da Costa

In recent years, the question of whether and to what extent states are bound by human rights treaty obligations when they act abroad has given rise to considerable debate in academic circles, courtrooms and military operations. Focusing on treaties considerably jeopardized during the ‘war on terror’, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention against Torture,The Extraterritorial Application of Selected Human Rights Treaties takes stock of the key developments informing the discussion to date. Together with the wording of treaties, critical analysis is made of the ensuing interpretation of treaty provisions by monitoring bodies and states parties. A way forward in this debate is suggested, accommodating conflicting interests while preserving the effective protection of basic rights.

Cultural Rights in International Law

Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and beyond

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Elissavet Stamatopoulou-Robbins

Drawing from a comprehensive review of legal instruments, practice, jurisprudence and literature, and using a multidisciplinary approach, this unique book brings forth the full spectrum of cultural rights, as individual and collective human rights, and offers a compelling vision for public policy.
This book is the second volume in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Series. The Series will consist of approximately 20 volumes, each dealing with a substantive right (or group of rights) set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Each volume is authored by an expert in human rights generally and in the particular subject addressed. Without losing sight of the political context in which the implementation of human rights must occur, each book provides a comprehensive, legally-oriented analysis of the rights concerned, including an examination of the legislative history of the text of each right as adopted in 1948, the right's subsequent articulation and interpretation by international bodies and in subsequent international instruments, and a survey of state practice in defining and enforcing the right.