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UN Treaty Bodies and China

UN Treaty Bodies are committees of experts charged with monitoring the implementation of the nine core international human rights treaties. Each of these international human rights treaties establishes a committee of independent experts, who are nominated and elected by state parties and serve in a personal capacity. The committees play a critical role in clarifying the scope of obligations under the treaties and evaluating each state party’s implementation progress through general comments and regular reviews. In addition, when states recognize their competence to do so, some committees may accept complaints and communications from individuals or initiate an inquiry if there are allegations that state parties have committed rights violations.

As of mid-2014, China is party to the below six UN human rights treaties, listed by order of ratification:

  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW): EN, CH
  • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD): EN, CH
  • Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT): EN, CH
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC): EN, CH
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR): EN, CH
  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): EN, CH

Although China signed on to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on October 5, 1998, it has yet to ratify it. As such, China is not yet bound to the specific provisions of the ICCPR. However, as a signatory, China has the obligation to act in good faith and not defeat the purpose of the ICCPR. In recent years, domestic Chinese voices as well as the international community have been more actively calling for China’s ICCPR ratification. For example, an increasing number of Chinese citizens have been organizing open letters and urging the leaders to ratify the ICCPR. Echoing these domestic voices, comments and recommendations related to ratification of the ICCPR were advanced by over 30 UN member states at China’s 2013 UPR, making it the most widely advanced topic.

Human Rights Treaties Ratified by China

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