Nils-Hendrik Grohmann

Strengthening the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies

An Analysis of the Committees' Legal Powers and Possibilities for Reform

[Stärkung der UN-Menschenrechtsvertragsorgane. Eine Analyse der rechtlichen Befugnisse der Ausschüsse und der Möglichkeiten für eine Reform.]

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Within the still on-going strengthening process, the various UN treaty bodies can bring about lasting change on their own. Nils-Hendrik Grohmann shows that they are the ones who can introduce new powers using the interpretation of procedural provisions. Crucial for any attempt at reform is the cooperation among all Committees and a coherent approach in the alignment and harmonization of procedures.

This publication was supported by funds from the Publication Fund for Open Access Monographs of the Federal State of Brandenburg, Germany.
The UN human rights treaty bodies are still in need of reform, since past initiatives were not as successful as hoped. Therefore, to secure the effective dischargement of their various mandates, particularly under the reporting procedure, the Committees need to be reformers on their own. Nils-Hendrik Grohmann delineates the Committees' powers from both a practical and theoretical perspective and demonstrates how far their legal mandates can reach. Effectiveness-orientated interpretation of procedural provisions that already endow the Committees with certain powers, allows for the extension of mandates. Thereby, the Committees can introduce new powers without State consent. In doing so, they are well-advised to approach the reporting procedure holistically, to develop coherent procedural approaches and to take into consideration the considerable overlap in terms of substantive provisions under the nine UN human rights treaties. Another key factor for reform is cooperation itself among the Committees, which increased in recent years through the Meeting of Chairpersons.

This publication was supported by funds from the Publication Fund for Open Access Monographs of the Federal State of Brandenburg, Germany.
Survey of contents
A. United Nations human rights treaty bodies
B. Problems faced by human rights treaty bodies
C. Fragmentation of human rights law within the treaty body system
D. Aim and scope of the thesis at hand

Part I: Growth of the treaty body system
A. Discussions on the suitable enforcement mechanisms under the
two Covenants
B. CERD Committee
C. CEDAW Committee
D. Committee against Torture
E. CRC Committee
F. CMW Committee
G. CED Committee
H. CRPD Committee
I. Interim conclusion and outlook

Part II: Past attempts at reform
A. »Alston proposals« between 1989 and 1997
B. Consolidated single State report proposal
C. Unified standing treaty body proposal
D. Origins of the current treaty body strengthening process
E. Human rights treaty bodies as the main drivers for attempts at reform

Part III: Delineating the mandate of treaty bodies
A. Interpretation of human rights treaties
B. Broadening of competencies with the involvement of State parties

Part IV: Reform proposals under the reporting procedure and their implementation
A. Object and purpose of human rights reporting
B. Simplified Reporting Procedure
C. Comprehensive reporting calendar
D. Reviews in the absence of a report
E. Concluding observations and follow-up activities
F. Conclusion on attempts at reform under the reporting procedure

Part V: Institutionalized Cooperation among human rights treaty bodies
A. Establishment and evolution of the »linkage Committees«
B. Decision-making powers of »linkage Committees«
C. Conclusion and outlook

Nils-Hendrik Grohmann Born 1992; Law studies at the University of Münster and Oslo; 2018 Research assistant at the Chair of European and International Law at the University of Potsdam; 2022 Legal clerk at the Kammergericht Berlin.


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