11 February 2015
The UN Human Rights Office has launched a major public online database, http://juris.ohchr.org , that contains all case law issued by the UN human rights expert committees, the Treaty Bodies.
“The database is designed to be a key reference tool for scholars, lawyers, civil society organisations, governments and civil servants, our UN partners and the general public,” said Ibrahim Salama, Director of the UN Human Rights Treaties Division. “Just as importantly, we hope it may help individuals who are preparing to submit complaints to the committees by giving them access to the views and decisions taken by the expert members on specific human rights issues.”
The database was developed using data from the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) of Utrecht University School of Law. Since the mid-1990s, the SIM had developed a comprehensive record on the jurisprudence stemming from the decisions by four Treaty Bodies on complaints brought by individuals. Over 20 years, academics compiled and indexed Treaty Bodies’ case law, making the SIM database the most authoritative online resource on this. Due to budget restrictions, the SIM stopped updating the database from 1 January 2014 and took it offline on 1 January 2015. However, the SIM offered its data free of charge to the UN Human Rights Office.
“This allowed us to build our own database, with an expanded remit and search capability, and we aim to continue developing it. It is an important part of our efforts to make the work of the Treaty Bodies more visible and accessible, and we hope it will benefit a range of users all over the world,” said Mr. Salama.
There are 10 Treaty Bodies that review and monitor how States that have ratified a particular treaty are implementing the rights contained in it. Eight * can also consider complaints by individuals who believe their rights have been violated and who have exhausted all the legal steps in their own country.
The site http://juris.ohchr.org contains case law indexed by various categories, including State, date, subject and keywords, which can all be used as search criteria. Users can submit their comments on the functioning of the database as part of ongoing efforts to improve it.
*The Committees that can receive and consider individual complaints are:
. Human Rights Committee (CCPR)
. Committee against Torture (CAT)
. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
. Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
. Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED)
. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
. Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)