UN Treaty bodies

A treaty body is a committee of independent experts that monitors implementation of a human rights treaty. All of the UN treaty bodies, except for the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), review and comment on periodic reports submitted by States Parties.

Some treaty bodies also have the power to review individual complaints or inter-state complaints and to conduct confidential inquiries. Many treaty bodies also issue guidance concerning interpretation of the treaty, known as General comments.

Committee against Torture

The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) monitors the implementation of the Convention against Torture. It reviews State Reports on implementation of the Convention, conducts confidential inquiries and considers individual communications.

Each State Party to the Convention against Torture is required to report on the implementation of the treaty one year after becoming a party and then every four years. The CAT may also ask a State to make additional reports. During its bi-annual sessions in Geneva the CAT examines these reports through an interactive dialogue with the State delegation. The CAT then issues its conclusions and recommendations, so called concluding observations. NGOs and NHRIs can submit their own reports or information to the CAT.

The Committee can examine complaints from individuals alleging that a State Party has a violated his or her rights under the Convention.

APT resources:

General guidelines for States preparing their initial report to the Committee against Torture

Guidelines for Alternative reporting to the Committee against Torture

The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture

The SPT was created by the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and is unique among the treaty bodies. It does not review State reports, but has the mandate to visit places of detention through in-country missions and to advise States and National Preventive Mechanisms on OPCAT implementation.

The SPT meets during three one-week sessions every year in Geneva. Read more about the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture.

Other relevant treaty bodies

Many other UN treaty bodies play an important role with regard to preventing torture and other ill-treatment:

  • The Human Rights Committee, monitoring the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
  • The Committee on Enforced Disappearances
  • The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • The Committee on the Rights of the Child
  • The Committee on Migrant Workers
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women