5. How are human rights implemented and how is this monitored?

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How are human rights implemented and how is this monitored?

Human rights treaties are legally binding treaties. The parties to the treaties (“state parties”) are responsible for their implementation, and under an obligation to do so. Thus, the state and its agencies are called “duty bearers”. 

To implement human rights treaties domestically, duty bearers have to:

  • adapt existing laws or pass new laws;
  • change or adapt administrative or financial measures;
  • issue national action plans and similar programmes;
  • guarantee and facilitate access to legal protection if someone feels violated in his or her human rights;
  • regularly review and evaluate the results of these measures. 

Next to domestic courts, civil society organisations play an important role in the implementation of human rights, and so do National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) and the media. They can inform about human rights, demand the ratification of human rights treaties, document violations of human rights as well as monitor, call for and support the implementation of human rights obligations. 

Two recent human rights treaties even oblige states to establish national monitoring mechanisms: the Optional Protocol to the UN-Convention Against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). In Germany, the National Agency for the Prevention of Torture was founded in 2008, and the CRPD National Monitoring Body was established in May 2009 at the German Institute for Human Rights. 

Further Reading

Reading Tip

Deutsche Geschellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) (2013): Promising Practices - On a human rights-based approach in German development cooperation. GIZ, 26 p.

Deutsche Geschellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) (2011): National Human Rights Institutions. GIZ, 10 p.