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The Concluding Observations of United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies

The Concluding Observations of United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies

Abstract

The seven principal United Nations-sponsored human rights treaties stipulate that States Parties submit periodic reports to the respective treaty monitoring bodies (or ‘committees’)1 on the implementation of their treaty obligations. Following the review of a report, the treaty body in question issues a set of ‘concluding observations’, containing its collective assessment of the State's record and recommendations for enhanced implementation of the rights in question. Arguably, the issuance of concluding observations is the single most important activity of human rights treaty bodies. It provides an opportunity for the delivery of an authoritative overview of the state of human rights in a country and for the delivery of forms of advice which can stimulate systemic improvements. Its significance is all the greater now that the only accounts of the review of periodic reports which appear in the annual reports of the treaty bodies are the adopted concluding observations.2 This article seeks to test key aspects of the quality of concluding observations. The analysis is set within the framework of review of the development of the practice.
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