In advance of the preparation of your upcoming second biennial report on “the status of the human rights treaty body system and the progress achieved by the UN human rights treaty bodies in realizing greater efficiency and effectiveness in their work” as set out in General Assembly resolution 68/268 (para.40), the undersigned nongovernmental organizations wish to draw your attention to a series of objectives, principles and recommendations that we consider essential in any efforts to strengthen the human rights treaty bodies.
These are relevant for the preparation of the 2018 progress report as well as for the political process associated with the review of the measures taken and their sustainability, which should take place no later than 2020 (para. 41). In the first place, we recommend that your report encourage a process that is participatory and a final outcome that promotes a strong, independent and effective treaty body system.
We therefore respectfully suggest that your report call on Member States to ensure:
Providing the treaty bodies with sufficient regular funding and resources to carry out their functions and to comprehensively assess States parties’ compliance with their treaty obligations.
Respecting the independence of the treaty bodies and their competence to establish their own working methods, including with respect to their engagement with stakeholders and the sources of information on which they rely.
Ensuring regular periodicity of State party reviews through compliance with reporting obligations.
Enhancing the accessibility of the treaty bodies and the participation of rights holders and victims of human rights violations in the work of the treaty bodies including by making the system better known at the national level.
Taking effective measures to prevent and combat intimidation and reprisals against those seeking to cooperate with the treaty bodies.
Ensuring adequate follow-up on and implementation of the recommendations and views of the treaty bodies.
Ensuring expertise, independence and diversity in the treaty body membership by promoting open, transparent and merit-based nomination processes at the national level and by voting only for candidates that fulfill the criteria set out in the respective treaties and resolution 68/268 (para. 10 and 13).
The undersigned hope that a political process that could weaken the treaty bodies can be avoided. We encourage you and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to play a leadership role in protecting the independence and impartiality of the treaty body system and in promoting measures that will genuinely strengthen the treaty bodies, including through participatory processes.
While recognizing that the treaty bodies have made some progress towards alignment of working methods to date, we are of the view that, subject to the specificity of the different treaties, greater usability and efficiency could still be achieved if all of the treaty bodies had more similar processes and practices. We would however like to underline that the objective should be to align with best practices, and improve the impact of the treaty bodies, rather than steering towards a lowest common denominator.
We look forward to continuing to engage with you, the treaty bodies, individually and through the meetings of the Chairs and their Secretariats, to encourage measures to strengthen their effectiveness and the protection of rightsholders, including their facilitated access to the treaty body system. We stand ready to provide further inputs on substantive measures that could accomplish these goals.
We thank you in advance for your commitment to the protection of human rights, including through the human rights treaty bodies.
 See also NGO submission to the 29th Annual Meeting of Chairpersons of Human Rights Treaty Bodies, available at http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/TB/AnnualMeeting/29Meeting/JoinNGOStatement.pdf