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Improving Implementation and Follow Up: Treaty Bodies, Special Procedures, Universal Periodic Review

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</not-mobile>On November 22-23, Foreign Policy at Brookings, the Open Society Justice Initiative and UPR-Watch hosted a two-day conference on improving the implementation at national level of the findings and recommendations of three of the United Nations’ human rights mechanisms—treaty bodies, Special Procedures, and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The five-year review of the Human Rights Council (HRC), the ongoing reform of the treaty bodies, and the upcoming second cycle of the UPR provide timely opportunities to protect and strengthen these mechanisms’ role in closing the implementation gap.

Download the conference agenda »
Read the summary of recommendations »
Read the report of proceedings »
Ted Piccone, senior fellow and deputy director of Foreign Policy, was interviewed after the event » (watch on YouTube)

Implementation is a crucial indicator of effective human rights procedures, whether it be the implementation of the observations and ‘Views’ of treaty-based bodies, the recommendations of Special Procedures, or the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. However, there has been relatively little attention paid to the implementation rates of these three mechanisms, which together form the cornerstone of the United Nations’ human rights protection system.

This problem has been compounded by a lack of authoritative evidence concerning the impact of these mechanisms at the country level and the efficacy of their follow-up procedures. Moreover, while there have been considerable efforts to improve the working methods of the treaty bodies, Special Procedures and UPR process at a unit level, comparatively little attention has been paid to developing a framework for cooperative follow-up procedures among these mechanisms. At a time of renewed interest in treaty body strengthening, discussions on the five-year review of the Human Rights Council, as well as the upcoming second cycle of the UPR, the conference offered an important opportunity to focus on these common challenges. 

The first day of the conference assessed the state of implementation associated with each of these three mechanisms; identified ‘good practices’ and roadblocks to effective implementation at the national level; and addressed prospects for improving follow-up mechanisms within each system. On the second day, participants discussed ways in which implementation can be improved by developing a framework for cooperative follow-up procedures among the treaty bodies, Special Procedures and the UPR process. It also looked at how other parts of the UN system can be involved in facilitating implementation of recommendations.


Opening Remarks


Kyung-wha Kang

Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights



Rachel Brett

Representative for Human Rights and Refugees, Quaker UN office in Geneva


Michel Forst

Secretary General, Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme


James Goldston

Founding Executive Director, Open Society Justice Initiative


Murray Hunt

Legal Adviser, Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, UK


Anders Kompass

Senior Director, Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division, OHCHR


Vitit Muntarbhorn

Former Special Rapporteur on Situation of Human Rights in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea


Rachel Murray

Professor of International Human Rights Law and Director, Human Rights Implementation Centre, University of Bristol


Bacre Waly Ndiaye

Director, Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division, OHCHR


Bertrand Ramcharan

Professor of International Human Rights Law, Geneva Graduate Institute of International Studies


Katharina Rose

Geneva Representative, International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights


Dubravka Simonovic

Member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

Closing Remarks

More Information

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