on strengthening the relationship between NHRIs and the
human rights treaty bodies system
10 June 2010
1. The Advisory Council on Human Rights of Morocco organized from
9 to 10 June 2010 in Marrakech a meeting of National Human Rights
Institutions (NHRIs) to reflect on the future of human rights treaty
bodies. This meeting was a response to the 2009 call of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem
Pillay, who requested States Parties to human rights treaties, as well
as NHRIs, treaty body members, civil society actors and other
stakeholders to initiate a process of reflection on how to streamline
and strengthen the treaty body system.
2. This meeting was attended by representatives of NHRIs from all
regional networks of these institutions. Treaty body experts and
representatives of OHCHR participated as observers to the meeting.
3. NHRIs participants extend special appreciation to the Advisory
Council on Human Rights, the hosting institution, for the preparation
of this meeting and its warm hospitality.
4. For NHRIs streamlining and strengthening the human right treaty
body systems is necessary in order to better promote and protect
human rights at the national level in every country. Participants
strongly acknowledged the longstanding and productive
cooperation among human rights treaty bodies and national
human rights institutions and recognized the significant and
complementary role of both in promoting and protecting human
5. Participants in the meeting reaffirmed their belief that the human
rights treaty bodies, as central pillars in the United Nations human
rights system, have a fundamental role in promoting and protecting
human rights due to the legal nature of their mandates. Participants
recalled that, through voluntary and sovereign decisions, States
commit themselves to implement and respect the legal obligations
provided for in each international core human rights treaty and in
this regard, reiterated that treaty body recommendations should be
implemented as they derive from legal obligations in the field of
human rights. Participants furthermore underlined that the
recommendations by human rights treaty bodies constitute a
unique and solid basis for intergovernmental action promoting and
protecting human rights.
6. With the increase of the number of human rights treaty bodies and
adoption of new optional protocols since 2008 (Committee on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities and related optional protocol,
Optional Protocol on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and the soon to be
established Committee for the Protection of All Persons from
Enforced Disappearance), the need for the harmonization of
working methods of treaty bodies is becoming even more relevant
and urgent. The current wide variety and diversity of existing
practices among treaty bodies in their interaction with NHRIs is
challenging and at times reduces the capacity of NHRIs to
significantly contribute to the work of the treaty body system.
7. Additional instruments, increased ratification and reporting have
clearly led to a situation where additional funding is required if TBs
are to fulfil efficiently their mandate. Insufficient TBs’ meeting time
and frequent lack of translation of documents are two examples of
serious limitations in the current system.
8. Recognizing the particularities of each treaty and related treaty
body and the need to preserve their original mandates and specific
knowledge, nevertheless the participants emphasize the compelling
need for greater harmonisation between them.
9. Participants noted with appreciation the outcome of the 2006
Berlin international roundtable on the role of national human rights
institutions and treaty bodies and of the 2009 Dublin Statement on
the Process of Strengthening of the United Nations Human Rights
Treaty Body System.
10. Participants fully acknowledged that the rapid growth of the TBs
system has resulted in a significant reporting burden for SPs. These
difficulties also impact on the NHRIs capacity to interact with TBs in a
meaningful manner and overburden the whole reporting
system.Theyalso weaken the capacity building and the follow-up
programmes and activities.
11. Participants emphasized the need to have NHRIs established in all
States, in full conformity with the Paris Principles in order to maximise
the quality of their cooperation with TBs and ultimately assist
effectivelywith human rights implementation.
12. Participants also urged States to adequately financially resource
NHRIs to ensure that they have the capacity to fulfil their human
13. On the basis of discussions held in Marrakech, participants agreed
on the following in order to strengthen the human rights treaty
NHRIs perspectives on the TB strengthening process
14. The multiple challenges which the treaty body system confronts are
indications that it change and significant enhancement if it is to
achieve its objectives.
15. The multiplication of human rights mechanisms referred to above
has increased the risk of substantive overlap, contradiction, lack of
coordination and a fragmentation of the human rights protection
system. The impact at country level of the work of these procedures
is therefore being significantly weakened.
16. In order to strengthen the treaty body system in this new and rapidly
evolving context, NHRI participants recommend that treaty bodies
should, among other things:
a) streamline the reporting system with a view to reducing the
volume of documentation to be considered by the treaty bodies.
This will facilitate reporting by States parties, and contribute to
ensuring high quality review with an effective outcome. In order
to achieve this objective, All treaty bodies’ documentation,
including states parties’ reports, should be strictly limited to the
recommended number of pages, in accordance with the
harmonized reporting guidelines adopted by the Inter-
Committee Meeting and Chair Persons Meeting
b) insist that State Parties submit and regularly update the common
core document and treaty specific reports and that new and
innovative working methods and procedures, such as the lists of
issues prior to reporting be further explored with a view to better
focus the debate on the key strategic priorities in States Parties
under review as established by the treaty bodies; and
c) make recommendations that are targeted, focused and treaty
based. They should also make increasing use of cross-references
to the work of other treaty bodies avoid inconsistencies and,
where appropriate, reinforce other treaty body
17. NHRIs participants stressed the usefulness of TBs general comments
as an important tool for the implementation of convention
obligations and related TBs recommendations by States Parties,
including as guidance for law reform and policies and interpretation
of human rights treaties provisions. They recommended increased
development of general comments and where appropriate joint
general comment to reinforce the indivisibility and
interdependence of all human rights; and requested that NHRIs are
consulted during the drafting process.
18. NHRIs participants recommended that treaty bodies meet
periodically outside Geneva and New York in regional centres to
bring the treaty body procedures closer to rights and duty holders.
Recommendations to UN Member States
19. NHRIs participants recommend to member States of the United
Nations, that they should allocate adequate resources for the
human right treaty body system.
20. NHRIs participants recommend that State Parties nominate treaty
body experts in accordance with a consultative and transparent
process involving all sectors of society including NHRIs. National
candidates should be selected on the basis of their competence,
integrity, impartiality and independence.
21. NHRIs emphasized the importance for SPs holding national
consultations, as they are required to do for the UPR report, during
the preparation of their reports to be submitted to TBs. State Parties
must ensure that NHRIs are able to play key role in the national
Cooperation between NHRIs and TBs
22. Participants urged all treaty bodies to take due account of the
independent status of “A” accredited NHRIs and the particular role
that they have in national human right protection and contribution they can make to the treaty monitoring process.
23. In order to enhance access to treaty bodies and ensure follow-up by NHRIs to the treaty body recommendations, NHRI participants recommend that:
a) the reporting process and individual communication procedures
be as much as possible aligned, through common rules of
procedure and working methods, among treaty bodies in order
to establish similar procedures for cooperation with NHRIs and
other key national actors, including with respect to the format
and timing of submission of written information, and the oral
b) treaty bodies invite NHRIs and other key national actors to
provide information, on a systematic basis, in relation to their
respective follow-up procedures. To this end, NHRI participation
in the existing treaty body follow-up procedures or activities as
well as country inquiries should be encouraged, systematised,
and harmonised; and
c) the draft harmonised approach to NHRIs engagement with
treaty bodies, adopted at the 2006 Berlin meeting, be fully
NHRIs commitments to the process of strengthening the TB
24. NHRI participants reiterated their commitment to support to their maximum capacity the work of the treaty bodies system including amongst others by:
a) actively promoting the ratification of all core international
human rights treaties and optional protocols; withdrawing
reservations; ensuring the participation of States in existing
procedures for individual complaints and
enquiries;b)strengthening their working methods and their
participation in the treaty body system for instance by
submitting authoritative information highlighting issues of
concern to be addressed and by actively participating in treaty
bodies’ activities thereby ensuring that treaty body
recommendations have greater impact on the promotion and
protection of human rights at the country level.
25. Recognizing that it is the primary responsibility of the States to
disseminate the outputs of treaty bodies to all sectors of society and
in accessible languages, NHRIs especially highlighted the need to
bring them to the attention of concerned sectors of Government,
the Judiciary and Parliament. In addition, NHRI participants
reiterated their readiness to publicise and disseminate the core
international human rights instruments, as well as the treaty bodies’
concluding observations, general recommendations, views on any
national individual communications as well as enquiries.
26. NHRI participants also underlined their commitment to keep under
review the State party’s implementation of its obligations under the
international human rights conventions.
27. NHRI participants reiterated the need to raise awareness about the
TBs individual communications procedure and, whenever
appropriate, to support their use by victims. In addition, NHRIs are
also encouraged to be strategic in promoting cases that may build
specific jurisprudence to be used at the domestic level, as well as to
follow-up on the implementation of views adopted by TBs at
domestic level, disseminate them and use them in their human
rights education training programmes.
28. In light of their particular mandate and given the importance of
ensuring follow-up to the work of treaty bodies, NHRI participants
are committed to organising more training activities, including on a
regional basis, during which good practices could be shared. In this
regard, NHRI participants underlined their ability and willingness to
assist in the holding of training activities, on the treaty body
reporting and implementation process, for all stakeholders at the
national and international level.
Request to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
29. NHRI participants recommended that the Office of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in cooperation with
the International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs and regional
networks of NHRI’s, establishes a capacity building project with a
view to enabling NHRIs to give and receive training in relation to
follow-up to treaty body recommendations as well as treaty body
30. NHRI participants are committed to making best use of existing tools
provided by the OHCHR and requested in addition the
development of a handbook by the OHCHR specifically for NHRIs,
drawing on existing material, covering interaction with TBs guidelines
on how to participate at all stages and information on best
practices on follow-up to recommendations.
31. NHRIs participants are committed to continuing involvement in the
process of strengthening treaty body systems.
32. NHRIs participants having adopted this statement also requested its
endorsement by the ICC.