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Statement of Iceland at informal consultations to launch review of the UN human rights treaty body system

Strengthening the human rights treaty bodies
Statement by Jörundur Valtýsson, Permanent Representative of Iceland
New York, 2 June 2020


Mr. President, Madame High Commissioner, co-facilitators, colleagues,

We are grateful to the co-facilitators, Ambassador Hilale and Ambassador Lauber, for convening us here today on our human rights treaty bodies, and also for their flexibility in format. We are pleased to see you taking on this important task and I promise you our full co-operation and support.

Allow me also to thank Madam High-Commissioner and her staff for their work, as well as the treaty body members themselves and civil society that are all important stakeholders to this conversation.

Iceland had the pleasure of co-facilitating from 2012 to 2014 the process of the elaboration of resolution 68/268 in partnership with Indonesia first and Tunisia later. The resolution is not perfect, but it was the first time the GA came together and addressed the treaty bodies in such a comprehensive way. 

Many of the issues raised regarding the treaty bodies are already addressed in resolution 68/268 and a lot of work was undertaken to systematically examine their work in the previous process. 

However, implementation has been slow on some issues and inconsistent on others while recently we have seen a more unified approach by the treaty bodies. Therefore, a continued engagement of Member States is required to support the treaty bodies in the implementation of resolution 68/268.

Additionally, a key issue raised by many Member States, as well as the treaty bodies themselves, is their communication functions. The capacity of the system is severely limited for a number of reasons and since the conclusion of the previous process many new communication procedures have come into play. This issue would therefore, in our opinion, warrant increased focus this time around. 

We would therefore hope that our discussion would focus on these two issues - how to further the full implementation of resolution 68/268 and how to ensure that the communication function of the treaty bodies is fit for purpose. 

Regarding the conduct of our consultations, your proposed way forward sounds sensible. We also would wish to avoid a lengthy intergovernmental process but encourage transparency and inclusiveness - and to leverage the different strengths that delegations in Geneva and New York bring to the process. 

We are looking forward to working with you and all stakeholders on a successful review process that leads to a strong, efficient and effective treaty body system.

Thank you.

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