UN human rights treaties – individual communications (complaints) mechanisms and other UN human rights complaints mechanisms
Ireland is party to a number of international human rights treaties. Click this link to access further details of these treaties .
Some of these treaties allow individuals to make complaints to a committee of independent experts (often referred to as “treaty bodies” or treaty-based “monitoring bodies”) set up under the relevant treaty if they believe that the rights guaranteed by the treaty have been violated. Such complaints are known as “individual communications” and may be made only with regard to the conduct of states which are party to the relevant treaty and which have also accepted the jurisdiction of the committee to hear complaints about its conduct.
Ireland is a party to the four treaties which provide for individual communications and, in each case, has accepted the jurisdiction of the relevant committee to deal with complaints about its conduct. These treaties are:
- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (and the second Optional Protocol to the Covenant on the abolition of the death penalty), which is monitored by the Human Rights Committee, according to the rules set out in the first Optional Protocol to the Covenant;
- the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, according to the rules set out in Article 14 of the Convention;
- the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, according to the rules set out in the Optional Protocol to the Convention;
- the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which is monitored by the Committee Against Torture, according to the rules set out in Article 22 of the Convention.
Complaints must be directed to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
Individuals may also make complaints using other monitoring mechanisms set up by the United Nations. These mechanisms include:
- the Commission on the Status of Women, established by the UN Economic and Social Council;
- the so-called “1503 procedure”, which allows complaints to be made to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which consists of representatives of 47 member states of the United Nations, elected by the UN General Assembly;
- the so-called “special procedures”, which allow complaints to be made to independent experts under procedures established by the Human Rights Council.