Sunday, January 26, 2014

Government websites on treaty obligations

One area that is lagging behind in the human rights treaty field is good, informative government websites that list a state's human rights treaty obligations.  Most states don't have any website dedicated to their human rights obligations. Those that do have some form of web presence, tend to address only partial information and/or fail to keep that information up to date.

Technology is quickly changing our lives. Access to the Internet and electronic information is improving greatly across all domains. Even the least developed countries are experiencing growth of electronic access.  According to the International Telecommunications Union only 8% of the developing world had Internet access in 2005, but by 2013 that figure had quadrupled to 31%.

World population
6.5 billion
6.9 billion
7.1 billion
Not using the Internet
Using the Internet
Users in the developing world
Users in the developed world
a Estimate.

At a minimum I submit that governments should establish a permanent website dedicated to their human rights treaty obligations, containing the following information: 
  • the human rights treaties to which it is a party
  • a link to each of the treaty body websites for which it is a party
  • the latest reports submitted to each treaty body
  • the latest common core report submitted to the treaty body system
  • the latest concluding observations of each treaty body
  • the schedule of next appearances before each treaty body
  • upcoming deadlines for submitting next reports or follow up information
  • progress toward implementation and consultation opportunities for civil society
  • information about the live and archived treaty body webcasts of appearances of the government
  • the site should also be disability accessible in its design
  • the content of the site should be regularly updated; the site should indicate when the content was last revised and the government's policy on how frequently it intends to update the site in order to keep the information current 
Now is the time for states to take advantage of the advances in technology, and to disseminate information about their human rights treaty obligations to a greater number of their stakeholders.  All international human rights treaties obligate states to disseminate information about the treaty and the state's human rights obligations to a wide audience of stakeholders. In addition to the traditional means of dissemination, these electronic means should also be taken up and utilised. 

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