Treaty-Monitoring Bodies are committees of independent experts who monitor the implementation of international human rights treaties, for example, the Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its optional protocols (additions to the convention). States which are signatory to these treaties are asked to submit reports every so many years detailing their progress towards implementation of the specific convention. At the same time, civil society is also given the opportunity to submit ‘shadow’ or ‘parallel’ reports in which they make their own assessment of their country’s progress. During the review process, the monitoring body takes all of this information into account and provides a list of concerns and specific recommendations to the state in the form of ‘Concluding Observations’. Ideally, states should implement the recommendations they receive, however, unlike the treaty they have ratified these observations are not legally binding. Civil society can and should play an important role in monitoring and advocating with their government to ensure they implement these concluding observations.
For treaties which have a complaints mechanism like the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the monitoring bodies may also launch an investigation into cases of ‘grave and/or systematic violations’ of the rights protected by the treaty.