UN Treaty Bodies



UN Treaty Bodies are specialised committees made up of experts that are tasked with monitoring the implementation of the core human rights treaties for those states who have ratified. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Each State party to a treaty has an obligation to take steps to ensure that everyone in the State can enjoy the rights set out in the treaty.”

Each committee is then charged with clarifying the scope of the state’s obligations under the treaty and monitoring and evaluating the state’s progress on implementation through regular reviews. Committees can also accept complaints and communications from individuals, and in some cases, initiate country inquiries if serious, grave or systematic violations of the conventions in a State party have taken place.

As of 2017, China is a party to six UN human rights treaties (date of ratification in parentheses):

China has engaged to varying degrees with all of the above Treaty Bodies and the World Uyghur Congress has submitted Alternative Reports and engaged with Committees overseeing CEDAW, CERD, CAT, CRC and ICESCR.


Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

China ratified CEDAW in 1980 and has since been reviewed by the Committee five times and will be up for review again on November 1, 2018. All relevant documents from each previous review can be found with the OHCHR here.

China Combined 7th and 8th Cycle Review

Although the WUC did not engage directly through the submission of an Alternative Report to the Committee, a report was submitted by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) in collaboration with the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) that was considered at the 59th session of the Committee on October 23rd, 2014.

The UNPO/UHRP Alternative Report can be downloaded here.


Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination monitors implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

China ratified the CERD in 1981 and has since been reviewed by the Committee six times and its next review has yet to be scheduled. All relevant documents from each previous review can be found with the OHCHR here.

China Combined 10th-13th Cycle Review

The WUC submitted an Alternative Report to the Committee for consideration during its 75th session that took place from August 3-28, 2009.

The submission provides evidence in terms of China’s failure to uphold primary elements of the treaty including the lack of legal accountability on the part of the Chinese government for harsh interrogation practices, the restrictions on free travel for Uyghurs in particular, restrictions on Uyghur language education, restrictions on religious practice, and restrictions on employment opportunities.

The report can be downloaded here.


Committee against Torture (CAT)

The Committee against Torture monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.

China ratified CAT in 1988 and has since been reviewed by the Committee four times and is currently in its fifth review cycle. All relevant documents from each previous review can be found with the OHCHR here.

China 5th Cycle Review

The WUC submitted an Alternative Report to the Committee for consideration during its 56th session that took place from November 9th to December 9th, 2015.

The submission outlines some of the most concerning details of alleged instances and threats of torture as well as issues with China’s implementation of the Convention itself since China’s last reporting period. Major areas of concern addressed in the report include the definition of torture under Chinese law, police and security training/methods, pre-trial detention and forced confessions, violence and intimidation aimed at lawyers and human rights defenders, the impact of draft laws on terrorism and anti-extremism, and documented cases of torture of Uyghur detainees.

As a whole, the report fills a major gap in reporting in terms of torture in China. Although past reports from NGOs have spent some time on Uyghur cases, many lack the appropriate depth necessary to illustrate the major issues Uyghurs face in terms of torture in detention.

The report can be downloaded here.

In addition to the submission of an Alternative Report, the WUC also sent two delegates to the session in Geneva to meet with NGOs to coordinate our collective activity there. The session also allowed for meetings with Committee members to brief them on our primary concerns and direct their attention to Uyghur cases in particular so as to include the details in the Committee’s Concluding Observations.

China 4th Cycle Review

The WUC submitted an Alternative Report to the Committee for consideration during its 41st session that took place from November 3-21, 2008.

The report was co-authored by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and focuses on the lack of a definition of what torture consists of in national PRC law, China’s insufficient preventive measures and the lack of impartial investigation when acts of torture are suspected.

The report can be downloaded here.


Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

The Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and its optional protocols.

China has been reviewed by the Committee three times and is currently in its 4th review cycle and its next review is scheduled for March 2019. All relevant documents from each previous review can be found with the OHCHR here.

China 3rd Cycle Review

The WUC submitted an Alternative Report to the Committee for consideration during its 64th session that took place September 27th, 2012.

The report details a number of key issues related to the rights of Uyghur children in particular including language rights in school, freedom of religion and the ability of parents to pass on religious teachings to their children, the detention of Uyghur children and other mistreatment, and the forced transfer of Uyghur minors.

The report may be downloaded here.


Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

China ratified the ICESCR in 2001 and has since been reviewed by the Committee twice Its next review is scheduled for May 2019. All relevant documents from each previous review can be found with the OHCHR here.

China 2nd Cycle Review

The WUC submitted an Alternative Report to the Committee for consideration during its 52nd session that took place May 8th, 2014.

The detailed report touches on nearly all aspects of the Treaty including issues of self-determination, the right to work and social security, the protection of family, mothers and children, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to health, the right to education and the Uyghur language, and freedom of religion.

The report may be downloaded here.