Background information
Tuesday, 01 January 2008 09:00

What are the treaty bodies?

The treaty bodies are international committees of independent experts who monitor State parties’ implementation of each of the seven core human rights treaties and their optional protocols. The implementation of each of the international treaties is monitored by its own committee. At present, there are eight treaty bodies/committees monitoring the implementation of the seven core international human rights conventions. They are:


  • The Committee against Torture (CAT) and the Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT)
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
  • The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
  • The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW)
  • The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
  • The Human Rights Committee (HRC)

For further information on each of the bodies, please click on the respective links on the left.

Consideration of reports by treaty bodies

When States become party to one of the international human rights treaties, they are obliged to submit an initial, followed by periodic reports to the treaty body in question. The main purpose of the periodic reports is to examine the extent of the compliance of States with their obligations under the treaties, and how these obligations have been translated into the domestic legal provisions of the particular State. Ideally, the preparation of the report should also serve as a means by which countries can assess and debate particular human rights issues in their own countries, and identify problems and areas that may require further attention. One of the primary ways through which treaty bodies monitor implementation of their respective treaty by State parties is through the consideration of these State party reports.

Further reading

ISHR monitors and reports on the Committees' examination of State reports. Please see the Treaty Body Monitor in the Publications section to access the reports.


For a comprehensive guide to the treaty bodies, see ISHR Simple Guide to the Treaty Bodies.


OHCHR has also produced a Handbook for NGOs that contains an instructive chapter on how to engage with the treaty bodies.


For more information, see also OHCHR.

Last Updated on Monday, 25 October 2010 08:20
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