Glossary :

Glossary of terms

Concluding observations

A report where the committee gives guidance on what the state should do to comply with the convention, based on examination of information submitted by the state and other stakeholders.

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)

The judicial authority of the European Union that rules on matters of EU law.

Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

One of the main UN organs in charge of economic, social and environmental issues, as well as the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals.

European Convention on Human Rights

The main human rights treaty of the Council of Europe, which is binding for all 47 Member States of the organisation.

European Court of Human Rights

A body of the Council of Europe (CoE) based in Strasbourg that rules on the application of the European Convention of Human Rights by the 47 Member States of the CoE.

General Comment or Recommendation

Includes interpretation of specific provisions of a treaty and guidance on how states should apply specific rights.

Hard law

Includes binding treaties.

Human Rights Council

An inter-governmental committee made up of 47 periodically elected UN states that is responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights on a global scale.

Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons

Human rights expert of the UN system with the mission to look into how states protect and promote the rights of older people.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

One of the main binding UN human rights treaties that has its roots in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and deals with economic, social and cultural rights, such as labour rights, right to health, education and adequate standard of living.

International human rights law

The body of international law based on states' agreement to promote and protect human rights.

Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA)

Political declaration signed by UN member states in 2002 showing their commitment to build a society for all ages.


The active collection, verification and immediate use of information to improve human rights protection (definition by OHCHR).

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Part of the UN secretariat led by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the principal UN official that works to mainstream human rights throughout all UN programmes.

Organisation of American States (OAS)

The OAS is a regional intergovernmental organisation bringing together 35 states of the Americas and constitutes the main political, juridical, and social governmental forum in that region.

Pillar of Social Rights

An EU initiative aiming to set the social agenda focusing on rights in access to the labour market, working conditions and social protection.

Post-2015 development agenda

UN-led process that aims to define the future global development goals.


A text which adds one or more rights to the original treaty or amends certain of its provisions.


Formal process which declares the state’s acceptance of the provisions of the treaty and obligation to apply it.

Second World Assembly on Ageing

To begin addressing ageing issues, the UN General Assembly convened the first World Assembly on Ageing in 1982. The second World Assembly on Ageing took place in 2002 in Madrid.

Security Council

A UN organ comprised by 15 Member States with primary responsibility the maintenance of international peace and security.

Soft law or soft instruments

Includes non-binding instruments.

Special Procedures

Independent Experts, Special Rapporteurs and members of Working Groups are part of the so-called ‘Special Procedures’, the human rights experts that undertake independent fact-finding and monitoring missions to address human rights issues across the world.


Agreement under international law signed by states and international organisations. They are also referred as conventions, covenants and pacts among other terms.

Treaty body

Committees of independent experts that monitor the implementation of the UN conventions by States parties.

UN General Assembly (GA)

The main decision-making and representative organ of the UN, comprised by all its Member States.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

Agreed by the UN General Assembly in 1948, it represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled.

Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

An inter-governmental process, whereby states of the Human Rights Council periodically examine how UN states fulfil their human rights obligations.