Treaty Bodies | António Guterres: seize momentum to strengthen UN Treaty Bodies


Attention to rights-holders and victims must be central elements of UN reform, including Treaty Bodies. ISHR and a group of 29 major international, regional and national human rights NGOs are calling on the UN Secretary General to take a leading role in the Treaty Body strengthening process and prioritise the perspective of rights holders.

In an open letter initiated by ISHR, Amnesty International and Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, the signatories call on the Secretary General to adhere to a range of basic principles in preparation for his upcoming report on the Treaty Bodies, as mandated by General Assembly resolution 68/268.

“Previous processes of Treaty Body strengthening have mostly failed to bring about the changes and improvements that rights holders and victims are expecting of those key UN human rights bodies,” says Vincent Ploton, ISHR’s Director of Treaty Body advocacy. “Through his upcoming report and the proposals which he could table, the Secretary General can come up with some fresh and innovative ideas that will genuinely enhance Treaty Body functioning.”

The open letter recalls some of the essential principles identified in the report resulting from a multi-stakeholder consultation on the political strategy of the Treaty Body strengthening process, which was convened by ISHR in May 2017, including:

  • The need for a clear and strong commitment to the requirements and perspectives of rights-holders and victims.

  • The need for an open and transparent process that allows for direct non-State participation and that takes into account contributions by civil society, Treaty Body members, OHCHR, academics, practitioners and other relevant stakeholders.

The open letter also highlights the risks associated with a new political process at the General Assembly, and it further calls on the Secretary General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to “play a leadership role in protecting the independence and impartiality of the treaty body system”.

Link to the open letter



  • Treaty body strengthening process
  • Human rights defenders
  • NGOs
  • United Nations
  • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  • UN General Assembly
  • UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies