CYIL vol. 12 (2021)
jana petrková – zuzana trávníčková CYIL 12 (2021) The GA resolution 68/268 introduced specific instruction as to how much time it should take for individual committees to review a certain number of reports and to make a decision. According to this resolution, based on data from 2009–2014, committees should review approximately 2.5 reports per week. Such a number should always be determined by the number of reports in the previous four years and by the number of expected reports by committees. For the last report of the Secretary General (SG), the Report on the Status of the human rights treaty body system 31 from January 2020, the reference period is 2016–2019. In the first 10 months of 2019, the committees received 109 State Parties’ reports. The report shows the number of reports submitted to related bodies and the number of overdue reports and brings the whole issue to light. The report also states that the average number of submitted reports per year was 130. Also, the number of reports received in each year from 2012 to 2019 by all UN human rights committees is exceptional. The report shows that in 2012 it had 149 reports, in 2013 – 121, in 2014 – 122, in 2015 – 137, in 2016 – 137, in 2017 – 118, in 2018 135, and in 2019 (1–10) – 109 reports (A/74/643 Annexes). These impressive numbers give clear evidence about the workload of respective committees. On the other hand, these numbers are not as high as possible or as they should be because many states are late with their reports. Late and overdue reporting or even the complete absence of reports is the other serious problem of the efficiency of the UN system for the protection and observance of human rights. It is often mentioned as an essential characteristic of the whole self-reporting system and as a serious problem. 32 The SG’s third report presented brief statistics on overdue reports, both the initial and periodic ones. Table 2 represents the number of states which are late with their reports.
Table 2: Number of states with overdue reports (31. 10. 2019)
Number of reports due
Number of states owing the report(s)
Source: Authors on the basis of A/74/643 Annexes, p. 6.
One of the main arguments, which is often mentioned in debates on human rights treaties compliance, is that reporting creates a huge burden on Member States, as almost all United Nations members are also State Parties of several human rights conventions. Nowadays, eleven human rights treaties contain the reporting obligation that came into force in 2010. It is also an interesting moment from the point of view of a completely different phenomenon – the state’s reputation. Today’s public and many NGOs and other actors in international relations take it for granted that states who want to be considered democratic, modern members of the international community, participate in the protection of human rights and accept the reporting obligation. Fulfilling such a duty is considered to be a norm. Nevertheless, many states are fulfilling this obligation with significant delay or not at all. In 31 UN Doc A/74/643. Third biennial report of the Secretary General. (10 January 2020). 32 KÄLIN, W. Examination of state reports in KELLER, H., ULFSTEIN, G. UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies. Law and Legitimacy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2012. pp. 46-47.
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