UN budget shortfalls affecting UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies
October session of the HR Committee might be cancelled
In April this year, the Chairpersons of all 10 treaty bodies were informed that six of them are very likely to cancel sessions in 2019 for financial reasons – an unprecedented consequence of some UN member States delaying payments to the organization.
The six committees at risk are the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Committee Against Torture, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture.
This means that reviews already scheduled with States, as well as the consideration of complaints by individual victims of serious human rights violations will not take place as planned.
The hearings are the culmination of years of preparatory reports by governments and human rights activists. Countless NGOs already started the process of preparing their alternative reports and gathering information about the countries to be reviewed, since they were expecting to be able to participate in the reviews in October 2019. Instead, they are now faced with a high level of uncertainty.
The cancellation of sessions will have numerous other negative consequences, and will seriously undermine the system of protection, which States themselves have put in place over decades. Reducing the committees’ hearings and other activities is likely to have drastic repercussions beyond this year, and would increase the already existing backlog.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights receives only 3.7% of the total UN regular budget, an insignificant sum compared to its important mandate to promote and protect human rights around the world. While the savings would be modest, around $ 2 million according to spokesman for the OHCHR, it would have considerable consequences, not only on the treaty bodies, but also on all stakeholders, including NGOs.
"The cancellation of sessions will have numerous other negative consequences, and will seriously undermine the system of protection, which States themselves have put in place over decades."