UN Human Rights System

There are a number of oversight mechanisms at UN level, which can broadly be divided into two categories: the UN treaty bodies, which monitor signatory States’ implementation of UN treaties and the UN Charter-based bodies, who can review the human rights practices of all members of the United Nations.

UN Treaty Bodies

Each UN treaty establishes a monitoring Committee of independent human rights experts from the different Member States, known as a treaty body. Treaty bodies oversee the implementation of the relevant treaty. They do this by providing guidance on how the treaties should be interpreted generally, as well as by giving specific recommendations to countries on areas in need of further improvement. Similar to a court, treaty bodies can also take individual complaints.

UN Charter-based bodies

Charter-based bodies have the authority to review human rights practices of all UN Member States. There are two main bodies with such responsibilities:

  • the Human Rights Council (HRC);
  • the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)