AMMAN—The Regional Consultation for the Middle East and North Africa Region on the 2020 review of the United Nations Treaty Body System has concluded in Amman, Jordan, after convening for two days, on 21–22 August. The event was organized under a project bringing together Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression, School of International and Public Affairs, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School, and the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies in collaboration with the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. The event joined 20 academic and civil society specialists in human rights and practitioners in the Treaty Body System to provide inputs to the UN Secretary General’s 2020report to General Assembly’s on strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system.
Joseph Schechla, HLRN coordinator, participated in the consultation, emphasizing the need for Treaty Bodies to assert their role in the global development agenda and discourse and, especially, the country-review process. That perspective sees the primacy of human rights in the form of linking state obligations under treaty and the methods of Treaty Bodies as an indispensable guide to implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the global agendas, including the combined commitments under led by the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Paris Agreement.
This view distinguishes between such “commitments” and the higher order, binding “obligations” of states that remain constant before, during and after the global agenda timeframes. It enables the 2030 Agenda and its High-level Political Forum, which considers states voluntary reports on implementing the SDGs, to operationalize the interdependency of rights and the various dimensions of states’ human obligations—individual, collective, domestic and extraterritorial—in that process.
This perspective envisions a stronger and more-central role of the human rights Treaty Bodies in the field of international cooperation and assistance, which forms one of the seven over-riding principles of implementation enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The group considered the possible contours of a Treaty Body follow-up mechanism, based on the treaty-monitoring system as developed, to be an integrated method for reflecting the unitary system of international law as the functioning normative framework for implementing the current generation of global policies.
Schechla explained that “Such a human-rights approach to development, as mandated but not operationalized in the global policy commitments, upholds both the inter-state system and human rights as statecraft in the states in which we live, as well as the states that generate human rights consequences for the states in which we live.”
The paper presented by HLRN’s coordinator provides specific background to the HIC-HLRN current Human Rights Habitat Observatory, which engages HIC Members in restoring both the human rights and the “habitat” approaches to implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the New Urban Agenda and related global policies and processes.
Download Schechla’s paper, “Treaty Bodies and Related Institutions: The Centrality of Human Rights Treaty Bodies to the UN Sustainable Development System”
Download General Assembly resolution A/RES/68/268 “Strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system”
OHCHR webpage on Treaty Body Strengthening