University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series
Last Updated: 12 December 2008
Engaging with the United Nations Treaty Bodies: A fruitful dialogue?
Jo En Low
This paper will shortly be available for download.
This paper appears in the Australian International Law Journal, 2006, vol. 13, pp. 57 - 95 (published 2008).
There are seven core United Nations international human rights treaties under which committees of independent experts have been established to monitor their implementation. These committees produce a body of output, which include comments/recommendations adopted by the committees and views/decisions adopted in a case submitted under an individual complaints procedure. This material has become increasingly significant in the interpretation and application of the treaties by national courts and tribunals, thereby establishing the agreement of State parties on the interpretation of a treaty and facilitating the production of subsequent State practice. This paper examines the impact of the UN human rights treaty body system on Australian national courts and tribunals. It is based on a comprehensive review of the case law and other adjudicative decisions of Australian courts and tribunals from the late 1970s to mid-2006 where there were references to the treaty body output. It demonstrates that while Australian courts and tribunals are increasingly resorting to treaty body output as an aid to the interpretation of statutes and development of the common law as well as in the exercise and judicial scrutiny of administrative discretion, they have yet to engage in a 'fruitful' dialogue with the UN treaty bodies.