Published online by Cambridge University Press: 25 November 2021
As the very concept of TLCs rests on this notion of their being a lawmaking coalition through treaty interpretations, the General Comments (GC), the chapter introduces the UN human rights treaty bodies and gives data on their decision-making rules, their membership, workload, and on the instrument of interest for this book, the GCs. This chapter explains what GCs are, the degree to which the UN treaty bodies use GCs in different functions, and how state parties and scholars understand – and contest – GCs’ legal substance. Moving beyond notions of formal authority, the chapter argues for GCs’ authoritativeness because they serve as necessary reference points to human rights, especially because a broader community (NGOs, domestic courts, specialized agencies) enacts them in the realms of domestic law, politics, and civil society. Ultimately, what this chapter makes eminently apparent is that general comments’ authoritativeness depends less on state recognition and more on the multitude of actors breathing life into their interpretations.