Small states face big challenges in engaging UN treaty bodies

Small states often lack the capacity to engage effectively with the treaty body system as currently structured—it must become more streamlined and present locally to have an impact.

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By: Malene Alleyne & Felix Kirchmeier December 4, 2019

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Small states make a significant contribution to the United Nations treaty system. Despite their size, they serve as treaty drafters, thought leaders, and strong advocates for human rights. Nationals from small states serve on UN human rights treaty bodies, bringing diverse perspectives to key issues. And communities within small states enrich the system by providing treaty bodies with on-the-ground information, shining a light on invisible issues that affect vulnerable populations. In this sense, small states are critical to the advancement of an inclusive vision of human rights. Yet, small states face big challenges when engaging with the UN treaty system, particularly the UN treaty bodies that meet in Geneva.


The impact of the UN human rights treaty system on the domestic level: A call for human rights researchers worldwide to contribute to a global study

call for researchers

What has been the influence to date of the main United Nations human rights treaties, and the work of the committees that monitor compliance by States with these treaties, on the lives of people worldwide? A group of human rights researchers are currently engaged in a comprehensive ‘domestic impact study’ that will address this question in 20 countries. Researchers in other parts of the world are now also encouraged to undertake research on the same issue in their home countries.



University of Pretoria: Opportunity for doctoral studies on the impact of the United Nations human rights treaties on the domestic level.


The Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, invites applications from individuals interested in pursuing a doctorate degree in law, specifically on the topic of the impact of the United Nations human rights treaties on the domestic level.



Press Statement: University of Pretoria announces mayor new study with United Nations on the global human rights system

press statement


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6 February 2018 - The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is pleased to announce the start of a comprehensive study into the impact of the United Nations (UN) human rights treaty system in 20 countries around the world.