Shadow Reporting to UN Treaty Bodies
Shadow reporting is an important tool for NGOs supporting women’s human rights. By submitting a shadow report to a UN treaty body committee, NGOs can highlight issues not raised by their governments or point out where the government may be misleading the committee from the real situation.
Shadow reports may be presented to all of the human rights treaty monitoring bodies. They may address the specific treaty articles or specifically mirror the country’s common core document (CCD). Shadow reports may also be provided to the Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
IWRAW provides information on shadow reporting for:
CEDAW- The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The CEDAW Convention obligates ratifying countries (States parties) to eliminate discrimination and pursue equality in education, health care, employment, family life, participation in public and political life, and address prejudices and customs that perpetuate stereotyped gender roles and inequality. Any NGO with knowledge of sex discrimination issues in a state may submit a shadow report to be considered by the CEDAW Committee.
Assessing the Status of Women in the 21st Century: a Guide to Reporting under the CEDAW Convention. Forthcoming 2013.
Producing NGO Shadow Reports for the CEDAW Committee: A Procedural Guide. 2009.
CESCR- The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This Convention protects rights including adequate food, shelter, health care, education, fair employment, social security, and the right to participate in and benefit from one’s culture. It specifically provides for equality in the enjoyment of all the rights in the Covenant. NGOs may present shadow reports to CESCR concerning women’s economic, social, and cultural rights.
CCD - The Common Core Document has been revised under the Harmonized Guidelines on Reporting under the International Human Rights Treaties, including guidelines on a Common Core Document and Treaty Specific Documents. The new CCD presents NGOs with the opportunity to address issues of discrimination against women in a shadow report that may be presented to any human rights treaty body.
UPR- The Universal Periodic Review is conducted by the Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council is composed of 47 elected member States of the United Nations. It is mandated to conduct Periodic Reviews (UPRs) of all member States. According to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, the goals of the UPR include promoting “universality, interdependence, indivisibility and interrelatedness of all human rights.” The review includes three documents: a State prepared report; a compilation of the State’s recent treaty body reviews; and a compilation of information from NGOs, NHRIs, and other “relevant stakeholders."
The State-prepared report includes background information, but is not the same document as the CCD. The State report for the UPR is much shorter—only 20 pages—and is not required to include a section on non-discrimination, equality, and effective remedies. However, several States have included non-discrimination and equality principles either specifically or more generally under the section on protection and promotion of human rights. These reports also often include a specific section on protection of women’s rights and may also draw attention to specific topics, such as comfort women in Japan. (See “Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Japan,” A/HRC/8/44.)
The Concluding Observations of the State party review by the CEDAW Committee and the other treaty bodies are summarized by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights into a document that is presented to the Human Rights Council for a State’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).1 In addition, “other relevant stakeholders,” including NGOs and NHRIs, are invited to submit information to be compiled into a report and considered by the Human Rights Council.2 This gives NGOs a chance to highlight specific areas of concern to the Human Rights Council. If a State has not ratified all the human rights treaties or has failed to report regularly, the UPR provides a forum for NGOs to voice their concerns to the Human Rights Council. However, NGOs might bear in mind that the UPR is a less intense scrutiny than treaty reviews, so focus on a very short list of issues is crucial.
**More information for NGOs interested in submitting a shadow report for the UPR is available at the Universal Periodic Review.
1. “Institution-building of the United Nations Human Rights Council”, A/HRC/RES/5/1, June 18, 2007, at ¶ 15.
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