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Harmonized Symbol Numbers for Human Rights Treaty Documentation HA-20-10-05


As part of the on-going process of harmonization of  the working methods of the seven international human rights treaty bodies, we are happy to announce that agreement has been reached within the secretariat on a set of harmonized symbol numbers for treaty body documentation.

Symbol numbers are the reference numbers attached to all United Nations documentation which, among other functions, allow accurate searching for documents on the Official Documents System (ODS) ( and the treaty bodies database (

For the purposes of the reformed system, documents fall into three general categories: (1) sessional documents; (2) sequential documents; and (3) documents relating to the State party reporting process.

All treaty body symbols use an element to identify the treaty and its committee, as follows:

CERD/C        Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
CCPR/C        Human Rights Committee
E/C.12                Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (indicating that the Committee is the 12th committee of the Economic and Social Council)
CEDAW/C        Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
CAT/C                Committee against Torture
CRC/C                Committee on the Rights of the Child
CMW/C                Committee on Migrant Workers

(1) Sessional documents, such as the provisional agenda, have a a symbol based on the relevant committee and the number of the session and a numerical sequence.

(2) Sequential documents, such as the general comments, have symbols based on the relevant committee and a numerical sequence only.

(3) Documents related to the State party reporting process, which include the reports themselves, lists of issues and questions and concluding observations, have a symbol based on the relevant committee, the three letter standard code for the territory which forms the subject of the report, and the reporting cycle or periodicity. The system makes it easy to identify all documents linked to a single report as the root of each related document is the symbol of the report itself.

Thus, for example, the documents related to the initial report of Timor-Leste would be as follows:

CCPR/C/TLS/1        State Report
CCPR/C/TLS/Q/1        List of Issues and Questions
CCPR/C/TLS/Q/1/Add.1        Replies to List of Issues
CCPR/C/TLS/CO/1        Concluding observations
CCPR/C/TLS/CO/1/Add.1        Follow-up response to concluding observations

Please find attached the full table of new symbol numbers which will apply to documentation of all treaty bodies.    

The implementation date for the new system is
1 November 2005.

We hope you find this new symbol more transparent and user-friendly.


Treaties & Commission Branch
OHCHR-Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Division for the Advancement of Women

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