June 1, 2018
Civil society constitutes a fundamental pillar of the international human rights system. It contributes to promoting and respecting human rights, sustainable development, maintaining peace and security, and acts in line with UN Charter goals.
Civil society assesses and reports on whether State parties are fulfilling their treaty obligations by translating the provisions of the relevant United Nations human rights treaties (the Treaties) into action at the grassroots level. Accordingly, civil society significantly assists Treaty Bodies in monitoring and evaluating State parties’ compliance with the Treaties. In view of this vital role, the human rights Treaty Bodies request civil society organizations to cooperate with them by submitting information on issues related to the enjoyment of rights in a given country.
The active involvement and participation of civil society in the work of the Treaty Bodies is crucial for the wide dissemination, at the international, national and local levels, of information about the Treaties and the Treaty Bodies’ work. In many cases, the concluding observations or views on individual communications adopted by Treaty Bodies receive greater attention and enforcement owing to the intervention and activities of civil society.
Treaty Bodies have consistently encouraged State parties to publicly and specifically recognize the role played by civil society, including human rights defenders, and to engage with them in all relevant processes, including reporting.
The Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders has underscored how the Treaty Bodies benefit from the information provided to them by human rights defenders. This information is essential to monitoring implementation of the treaties and is a valuable early warning system to alert the international community to real, potential or imminent threats to peace, freedom, and security.