UN Rights Monitoring

A guide to how civil society organisations can effectively engage in the United Nations (UN) human rights monitoring

What UN rights monitoring mechanisms are there & how can I contribute to them?
Why should my organisation get involved?
How do I write a good submission?
What do I need to check before submitting written information?

What UN rights monitoring mechanisms are there & how can I contribute to them?

Treaty-based bodies

The UK’s compliance with UN human rights treaties is regularly checked by the UN’s monitoring bodies. There is a different monitoring body for each UN treaty body. Usually the government submits reports to the treaty monitoring bodies on the human rights situation in their country. Civil society organisations are encouraged to provide their input via submissions to the treaty bodies.
Detailed information on the different treaty bodies and the respective monitoring mechanism can be found below (by clicking on the treaty’s name).

How can you contribute to these treaty-monitoring bodies?

  • You can submit so-called ‘shadow reports’ to the respective treaty body. These reports aim to:
    • examine the Government’s performance regarding the human rights situation in the respective country
    • offer an alternative to the government’s official report.

Charter-based

The Universal Period Review (UPR) is a process conducted by the UN Human Council every five years. It reviews the human rights situation in every UN Member State.

How can you contribute to this review process?

  • You can make a submission to the mid-term and final reports.

Find more about this here.

Why should my organisation get involved?

Civil society organisation submissions are a powerful tool in helping to better understand the human rights situation in a country.

You can help to:

  • formulate well targeted recommendations
  • offer independent information
  • raise awareness
  • ensure that the government is held accountable.

You can influence throughout the review process:

  • through ‘shadow reports’
  • during the follow-up process by monitoring the implementation of the recommendations
  • submitting ideas to the list of issues to be addressed
  • by using the Committee’s recommendations to help advocate for particular changes in policy or legislation.

How do I write a good submission?

The submissions should:

  • be concrete and specific
  • include well-evidenced arguments supported with relevant statistics
  • use objective language
  • have a clear structure
  • highlight links between poor outcomes in the field and the inadequacies of government action
  • clearly state the UN recommendations / treaty provisions they are referring to

Work collectively with other civil society!
Joint submissions are given greater weight!

What do I need to check before submitting written information?

  • Check the relevant deadlines
  • Familiarise yourself with the main issues that are / have been under considerations.
    • Look at the contents of previous states parties’ reports, concluding observations and lists of issues
  • Check the reporting guidelines of the respective human rights treaty body.
  • Consider whether you could coordinate with other organisations to file a joint submission.

Quick Links 

Universal Periodic Review

Treaty Bodies

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CAT)
Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT)
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)