CYIL vol. 12 (2021)

CYIL 12 (2021) States ’ reports under UN hr treaties: how to read overdue reports? such cases, it is clear that a country’s reputation in the international community is not one of the priorities of a state administration, or that they base their reputation on factors other than the fulfillment of obligations under international treaties. As well as in international law in general, there are no measures on how to enforce timely reporting. The fact that the state did not submit the report on time, within the given deadline, is identified, recorded, and stated both in the statistical data and in the annual reports of the individual relevant committees. The committees shall indicate how many reports have been submitted to them, what type of report was involved, and the non-submission of reports. Here, the committees usually express their disappointment at such a situation and inform the General Assembly of the situation. From the data in the United Nations online database, it is clear that many states are trying to fulfill their obligations on time. However, many of them deliver reports with delays of several months, in many cases even years. 33 This issue was also mentioned as one of the most significant obstacles for the UN human rights treaties system in SG’s third report. 34 There can be a number of reasons for this situation. In the literature, the lack of political will to fulfill obligations: the existence of other, currently more important obligations, which have, given the limited resources; problems in the coordination of responsible authorities; and, of course, possible negligence in fulfilling obligations is mentioned. 35 There is also a moment that the burden arises with every other international treaty the state signs. UN human rights committees acknowledge the seriousness of the situation, and they try to deal with it in several ways. However, their options are limited, and their assessments and decisions are unenforceable. The Human Rights Committee (under the CERD treaty) sends note verbale to states with substantial overdue reports (more than 10 years) and uses the so- called simplified procedure, when a state can joint several missing reports in one submitted document, as a way of how to deal with overdue reports. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) sends letters reminding the obligation to State Parties. Committees against Torture (CAT) and on Enforced Disappearances (CED) also send reminders. In its latest Annual Report, 36 CED mentions the case of Mali, one of the first State Parties, who ratified the Convention. The Committee has sent eight reminders to Mali’s authorities before it decided to examine the situation in Mali with the absence of the state’s report. The Committee also noted that the other 15 State Parties are “significantly overdue” with their reports. As another example, Costa Rica submitted its report in May 2020 after the sixth reminder was sent in February. The Committee has no other chance than to urge states to fulfill their obligations. The UN Human Rights Report for 2020 mentions in its annexes that only 35% of states submitted their reports to human rights bodies on time. The report also shows that from 33 United Nations. Deadlines for the Submission of Documentation. accessed 15 June 2021. 34 UN Doc A/74/643. Report of the Secretary-General on the status of the human rights treaty body system. (10 January 2020). 35 KÄLIN, W. Examination of state reports in KELLER, H., ULFSTEIN, G. UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies. Law and Legitimacy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2012. 36 UN Doc A/75/56. Report of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. General Assembly Official Records. Seventy-fifth Session. Supplement No. 56. 2020.


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