GENEVA (17 May 2019) — The ten United Nations human rights treaties are legally binding treaties, adopted by the UN General Assembly and ratified by States. Each Treaty establishes a treaty body (or Committee) comprising elected independent experts who seek to ensure that States parties fulfil their legal obligations under the Conventions. This system of independent scrutiny of the conduct of States by independent experts is a key element of the United Nations human rights system, supported by secretariats in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In April this year, the Chairpersons of all 10 treaty bodies* were informed that six of them are very likely to have sessions in 2019 cancelled for financial reasons – an unprecedented consequence of some UN member States delaying payments due to the organisation.

This means that reviews already scheduled with States, as well as consideration of complaints by individual victims of serious human rights violations - including torture, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances – will not take place as scheduled. The cancellation of sessions will also have numerous other negative consequences, and will seriously undermine the system of protections which States themselves have put in place over decades.

The Chairpersons of the ten Committees are deeply concerned about the practical consequences of cancelling these sessions and have sent a letter to the UN Secretary General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, requesting that they, together with Member States, find ways of addressing this situation, as a matter of urgency.