Monitoring and promoting UN treaties

The Commission has a key role in engaging with the United Nations’ human rights system. In particular, we monitor the following core conventions:


Download the Scorecard:


  1. Although the treaties all encompass the work of government as a whole, an appropriate lead department is appointed which acts as the focal point within government for work on that treaty, and takes responsibility for meeting the obligations of the reporting cycle.
  2. This is the date the UK was last examined by the UN. This date is usually about a year on from the submission of the last state report.
  3. The UN calls on states to ratify all human rights treaties. There are currently nine.
  4. This indicates the current state of affairs regarding reservations. The UN recommends that all reservations to treaties are lifted.
  5. All treaties allow individuals to petition the UN if they feel their treaty rights have been violated and they have exhausted all domestic remedies, except CRC although a process for allowing this is presently under negotiation.
  6. The concluding observations from the treaty bodies frequently call for incorporation. The UK's position is that the treaty rights are reflected in different pieces of legislation but incorporation is not appropriate to our legal framework.
  7. The lead department has an obligation to ensure the treaty is well mainstreamed across government. Ideally a treaty lead or liaison will be appointed in each key government department.
  8. The state should consult with NHRIs (National Human Rights Institutions) and civil society (for example via Non-Governmental Organisations) to gain widespread input into the state report and share a draft of the report prior to submission to the UN.
  9. Where treaties refer to areas of devolved responsibility input from the devolved administrations should be requested.
  10. The state is required to submit periodic reports and though reporting cycles vary under the different treaties they are usually required to so every 4 years.
  11. The UN recommends that delegations to the state examination are led at ministerial level. This demonstrates high level commitment to the treaty
  12. A search was conducted in January and October 2011 of all lead department websites for the last set of concluding observations (COs). In some cases there was little or no information about the treaty available at all on the websites.
  13. The state should respond by stating which COs it accepts and which it does not, giving reasons why. In some cases treaty bodies have requested specific follow up to COs in a one year on or mid term report
  14. Follow up action plans ensure that COs is taken seriously by outlining how they will be met, where responsibility lies in government and when action should be delivered by. Ideally this document should be shared with NHRIs. Here we have indicated where this has been the case.

Comments on each Treaty

CEDAW - Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women

  • The Government submitted its seventh periodic report to the UN in June 2011. The next CEDAW examination of the UK is expected to be in 2013.

ICESCR - International Covenant Economic, Social and Cultural rights

  • No evidence of follow up since last examination

CRC - Convention on the Rights of the Child

ICCPR - International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

  • A follow up report was sent to the UN in 2010 but this was not shared with NHRIs/NGOs (National Human Rights Institutions/Non-Governmental Organisations) and little evidence of other follow up

CERD - International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

  • State report submitted late in 2010, due to be examined by CERD committee August 2011

CAT - Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

  • The fifth periodic state report which was due in 2008 was eventually lodged with the Committee in August 2011,

CRPD - Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

  • New convention, first state report submitted in November 2011 and examination is expected in 2015.  NHRIs designated as the independent monitoring mechanism under article 33 of the Convention and the Government is also funding a network of key NGOs to feed into the process. There is good information about this on the ODI's website (Office of Disability Issues)
  • 2011 UK Government consulting on decision to remove immigration reservation.
  • 24 November 2011, Maria Miller, Minister for Disabled People announces UK Government withdrawal of its reservation entered against Article 12.4.

CMW - Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and members of their Families

CED - Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance

Last Updated: 04 Jun 2015