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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: July 2011

3 - The international human rights treaty system: practice and procedure



As the primary focus of this book is on the jurisprudence of the UN human rights treaty bodies with respect to violence against women, this chapter outlines the mandates, procedural rules, and composition of these bodies. I summarise the main functions of the treaty bodies and recite a number of general problems with the treaty body system, before analysing the particular consequences of this system of human rights protection for women. The UN system of human rights protection is flawed in many respects, which can in turn affect women's access to and participation within it. This chapter addresses the first feminist critique outlined in Chapter 2 – that the institutions, structures, and processes established to implement international human rights norms exclude or sideline women from equal or meaningful participation and power-sharing. Do the rules of the treaty bodies governing membership, working methods, and admissibility criteria prioritise men and the male experience? Do women have equal access to these mechanisms and their benefits? Where are the women?

The chapter is divided into three main parts. Immediately following this brief introduction, Part B outlines the general mandates of the treaty bodies; Part C then reviews the membership and expertise of these bodies; while Parts D–H set out and analyse the primary functions of the treaty bodies, summarised below.


International supervision of the implementation by states parties of most of their international human rights treaty obligations is carried out by independent committees or treaty bodies.

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