Human rights bodies

Human rights bodies

To offer expertise and support to the different human rights monitoring mechanisms in the United Nations system is the function of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). There are to distinguish two different kinds of bodies in general: some UN Charter-based bodies (these including the Human Rights Council), and on the other hand the treaty-based bodies. The latter has been created under the international human rights treaties and consists of independent experts. They are mandated to monitor State parties` compliance with their treaty obligations. Most of these bodies get secretariat support from the OHCHR.

There are 4 charter-based bodies. Also, we have nine core international human rights treaties (one of which – on enforced disappearance – has not yet entered into force). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, and all UN Member States have ratified at least one core international human rights treaty since 80 % of Member States have ratified four or more.

United Nations Committee against Torture
The Committee against Torture CAT is the body of 10 independent experts that monitors implementation of the “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” by its State Parties. – OHCHR.

Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture SPT started its work in 2007. According to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture OPCAT the STP is given the right to visit places of detention and examine the treatment of people held there. – OHCHR.

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
In the resolution 1985/33 the United Nations Commission of Human Rights decided to appoint an expert, a special rapporteur, to examine questions relevant to torture. This mandate covers all countries, irrespective of whether a State has ratified the Convention against Torture. – Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Organization of American States (middle and south), on this website there are lots of links to rapports on human rights in general. No special focus on torture. – IACHR.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Situated in Costa Rica, this court is an “autonomous judicial institution of the Organization of American States”. Objectives of this court are the application and interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights and other treaties concerning the same matter. – Homepage in Spanish and English.

African Commission on Human and People’s rights
This commission was established in 1987 by the African Charter on Human and Peoples`Rights, adopted in 1981 by the Organization of African Unity OAU. The commissions’ task is to ensure the “promotion and protection of Human and Peoples`Rights throughout the African Continent. Headquarter is in Banjul/Gambia. Homepage in French and English.

Asian Human Rights Commission
This Commission targets to protect and promote human rights (by monitoring, investigation, advocacy, taking solidarity actions). In addition to more general information on the topic of human rights, we find also very solid and informative collection (links) to the situation on torture in various Asian countries. There are also statements and reports, up to date press-releases. Very useful to get current status on the topic. – AHRC, 06/2010.

Australian Human Rights Commission
Established in 1986, an independent statutory organization, reporting to the Australian federal parliament. Targeting the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia. No special focus on torture.

European Court of Human Rights
The Court was established in 1959, headquartered in Strasbourg/France. It rules on individual or State application alleging violations of the civil or political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (no special focus on torture, which is part of the whole). To mention here is also an interesting fact sheets collection with examples on violations of human rights in European countries.

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or punishment
The CPT consists of independent and impartial experts, elected by the Committee of Ministers (the Council of Europe`s decision-making body). “The Committee shall, by means of visits, examine the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty with a view to strengthening, if necessary, the protection of such persons from torture and from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” You find the reports of the Committee here.