About monitoring protection mechanisms
The eight treaty bodies (or committees) created by virtue of
international human rights treaties are responsible for ensuring that
the main human rights instruments ratified by State Parties are
implemented. They are composed of independent experts who meet two to
three times a year in Geneva or New York.
In accordance with their mandate, Treaty Bodies have two main
activities: to examine the reports submitted by State Parties on the
implementation of pacts and conventions, and to examine individual
complaints or communications.
All State Parties must regularly present Treaty Bodies the reports
(initial and periodical) on the implementation of the rights included in
the various human rights treaties. Treaty Bodies examine each report
and share their preoccupations and recommendations with the State Party
in their “Final Observations”.
Moreover, in specific conditions, certain Treaty Bodies can examine individual
complaints or communications from persons who claim to be victims of a
rights violation recognised in the relevant convention or agreement.
These mechanisms are often complex and difficult to implement,
especially for victims and local NGOs. OMCT works to facilitate access
to these various Treaty Bodies through lobbying activities, denunciation
and workshops. However, OMCT also contributes by submitting, in
collaboration with national NGOs, alternative reports to Treaty Bodies.
The review of initial and periodical reports of State Parties
constitutes a delicate exercise for governments in power, who often balk
at the idea of being critical of their own actions, and have a tendency
to present a partial view of the human rights situation in their
country. This is the reason why OMCT, in close collaboration with
national NGOs and civil society groups in the concerned country, submits
alternative reports on human rights violations. These reports paint a
more objective portrait of the situation, which often facilitates the
revelation of the “big picture”.
“The work of OMCT is of great
assistance to all treaty bodies and is crucial in keeping world
attention focused on the serious issue of violence against women. I am
grateful that you still send me these reports which are of great
interest to me personally and are important to treaty bodies generally
and in particular the Committee on the Rights of Child.”
– Jane Connors, Treaty Implementation Unit II, Support
Services Branch, United Nations
Alternative reports are prepared jointly with national NGOs. This
method allows them to gain a deeper understanding of the workings of
Treaty Bodies, and allows independent experts in Treaty Bodies to obtain
first-hand information on the human rights situation in the country in
Depending on the agenda of the review of the State Party’s report by
Treaty Bodies, OMCT begins by contacting national NGOs with the purpose
of establishing a partnership to prepare the alternative report. If this
idea is accepted, an OMCT preparatory mission is sent to the concerned
country in order to meet with the partner NGO, conduct the investigation
on the human rights situation, meet with relevant authorities and offer
workshops on the workings of the Treaty Bodies.
Afterwards, partner NGOs have the opportunity to attend the Treaty
Body’s sessions (either in Geneva or New York) to present the
alternative report with OMCT.
Finally, when the “Final Observations” have been adopted to order
State Parties to take certain measures to conform to the provisions of
the relevant legislative instruments, OMCT, in collaboration with
partner NGOs, then conducts an intensive lobbying effort to ensure that
these “Final Observations” are actually implemented.
In this area, OMCT’s reputation has grown continuously. Indeed,
alternative reports, which are often their main source of information on
human rights violations, have a real impact on the work of Treaty
Bodies, especially during the interactive dialogue with delegations from
State Parties or in the Final Observations they adopt. It is difficult
to verify the application of a Treaty Body’s Final Observations, both at
the legislative and practical levels. The collaboration of local NGOs
is thus essential to ensure this follow-up. This verification task can
take many months when the task at hand is to ensure that the “Final
Observations” have produced their desired effects on the country’s
legislation. It is even more difficult to determine if State agents
acting on the ground are conforming to recommendations. This
verification task often requires many years.
OMCT's main objectives are:
- To contribute to the implementation, by State Parties, of the
instructions mandated by the Treaty Body in terms of human rights, as
they appear in the legislative instruments of the United Nations.To
support the development of strict legal norms and to verify their
- To provide legislative and practical assistance to victims and
local NGOs who aim to use United Nations procedures such as the
Committee against Torture (CAT) and the Human Rights Committee (HRC).