Statement by the United States of America for the first meeting on Treaty Body Reform (via VTC)

Sofija Korac
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 2, 2020


Thank you, chair.

Your Excellencies, thank you to both the Ambassadors of Switzerland and Morocco for your willingness to facilitate discussions on this important review.

The United States has been integrally involved in conversations about treaty body reform since well before Resolution 68/268. The treaty body system plays a critical role in holding States accountable for their human rights obligations. We firmly support efforts to strengthen it and to enhance coordination among the bodies.

We welcome the progress the treaty bodies have made over the last year to improve working methods and enhance coordination. The present discussion is rightly focused on the value the General Assembly can add to reforms that fall, for the most part, to the treaty bodies themselves to make.

In this regard, the vision statement of the Chairs from last July, which largely reflected the Costa Rica elements paper that we and many other States supported, provides a roadmap for steps the treaty bodies can and should take, such as coordinated and predictable calendars, and focused and limited concluding observations and follow-up communications. The Human Rights Committee set the example through its decision last July to put these ideas into practice. This is the type of real action the Assembly should encourage other treaty bodies to replicate without further delay, something it could do through preambular language in a successor resolution.

We agree with other participants that there is a core set of additional elements the cofacilitators should look at in developing the operative portion of such a resolution. These include revisiting the formula for allocating meeting time, the universalization of “opt-out” simplified reporting, and facilitating access to modern case-management technology to help reduce the ever-growing backlog of individual communications.

Discussions should also explore how to improve the selection and election process of members to ensure they are both substantively qualified and demonstrably independent. We must also improve safeguards against intimidation and reprisals against individuals and groups cooperating with treaty bodies.

Finally, as many other colleagues have said, we welcome and encourage a transparent process that engages all stakeholders, in particular civil society organizations throughout the entire process. As my colleague from the EU said, we also welcome that this meeting has been webcast.

We stand ready, with our counterparts in Geneva, to engage in these discussions over the next few months. Thank you for including them in today’s and future discussions.

Thank you, chair.