General information on the treaty system


pdf-icon xsmall Academic platform report on the 2020 review: Optimizing the UN treaty body system
Geneva Academy: Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

For general on-line information:

The following two sources provide an excellent overview of the UN human rights treaty system and might be a good starting point:

pdf-icon xsmall Fact sheet on the UN human rights treaty system

pdf-icon xsmall Handbook for Human Rights Treaty Body Members

The follow-up procedures of the various treaty bodies are an invaluable resource in impact, because one often finds explicit statements by States during those processes on whether they have implemented views of COBs. This is also the case with reference to Individual Communications.

The documents produced by the treaty bodies can be accessed at:

Particularly useful for follow-up to COBs under the ICCPR, and thus also for the question of causality is: 

For an enlightening discussion of the implementation by States of the decisions of the Treaty Bodies (particularly the HRCttee), please see the following article.

pdf-icon xsmall Principi, KF “Implementation of Decisions under the UN Treaty Body Complaint Procedures – How Do States Comply? / A Categorized Study Based on 268 Cases of ‘Satisfactory’ Implementation under the Follow-Up Procedure, mainly regarding the UN Human Rights Committee” (2017) 37 Human Rights Law Journal 1.

In a follow-up article, Kate Fox Principi explores what internal mechanisms exist in States to implement the decisions of the treaty bodies and discusses how the establishment of these mechanisms can assist States to fulfill their good-faith obligations 

pdf-icon xsmall Principi, KF “Internal Mechanisms to Implement UN Human Rights Decisions, notably of the UN Human Rights Committee / How Can These Mechanisms Assist States to Fulfil their Good Faith Obligations?” (2017) 37 Human Rights Law Journal 237

In a new series of policy briefs, the Universal Rights Group takes a closer clook at the global human rights implementation Agenda. The first report of this new series explores the role of multilateral and bilateral development partners in supporting States (in particular developing States) in their implementation of the UN human rights mechanisms:

 Universal Rights Group
Global Human Rights Implementation Agenda
The Role of International Development Partners

For recent reports on the implementation of international human rights decisions published by the Open Society Justice Initiative:

pdf-icon xsmall From Judgment to Justice: Implementing International and Regional Human Rights Decisions (November 2010)

pdf-icon xsmall From Rights to Remedies: Structures and Strategies for Implementing International Human Rights Decisions (June 2013)


Another helpful resource is: OHCHR’s Weekly Update: News and Events in the UN Human Rights Treaty Body System.  It is issued every Monday and covers the proceedings of the previous week. 

The Weekly Update focal point is:
Ms Elena Kountouri Tapiero
Tel: +41 22 917 96 72
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For an interesting point of reference, see Matheus de Carvalho Hernandez’s review of Kathryn Sikkink Evidence for Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century (2017) [Princeton: Princeton University Press]

pdf-icon xsmall Universal Rights Group (2019) "Pacific Principles of Practice" for effective national implementation: A Guide to Establishing Effective National Mechanisms for Implementation Reporting and Follow-Ups (NMIRFs)


Books on the treaty system

Alston, P & Crawford, J (eds) (2000) The future of the UN human rights treaty system [Cambridge University Press]

Alston, P & Goodman, R (2013) International human rights [Oxford University Press]

Alston, P (ed) (2004) The United Nations and human rights: A critical appraisal [Clarendon Press]

De Schutter, O (2014) International human rights law [Cambridge University Press]

Egan, S (2011) The UN human rights treaty system: Law and procedure [Bloomsbury Professional]

Keller, H & Ulfstein, G (2012) UN human rights treaty bodies: Law and legitimacy [Cambridge University Press]

Shelton, D (2013) The Oxford handbook of international human rights law [Oxford University Press]

Weissbrodt, D et al (2009) Selected international human rights instruments and bibliography for research on international human rights law [LexisNexis]

Young, K (2002) The law and process of the UN Human Rights Committee [Transnational Publishers]


Journal articles on the treaty system

Boerefijn, I “Establishing state responsibility for breaching human rights Treaty obligations: Avenues under human rights treaties” (2009) 56(2) Netherlands International Law Review 167

Downs, G & Jones, M “Reputation, compliance, and international law” (2002) 31(1) The Journal of Legal Studies 95

Hathaway, O “Why do countries commit to human right treaties?” (2007) 51(4) Yale Law Journal 588

Kanetake, M “UN human rights treaty monitoring bodies before domestic courts” (2018) 67 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 201

Neumayer, E “Do international human rights treaties improve respect for human rights?” (2005) 49(6) Journal of Conflict Resolution 925

Buergenthal, T “The contemporary significance of international human rights law” (2009) 22(2) Leiden Journal of International Law 217

Krommendijk, J “The domestic effectiveness of international human rights
monitoring in established democracies: The case of the UN Human Rights treaty bodies” (2015) 10(4) The Review of International Organizations 489