During the month of November 2015, six United Nations human rights mechanisms will meet in Geneva, Switzerland. The UN Human Rights Committee, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee), Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, Committee Against Torture (CAT), Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT), and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will each be holding sessions, during which they will review States’ compliance with the relevant human rights standards, consider individual complaints, and discuss best practices. Video of the public portions of these sessions is available on UN Treaty Body Webcast or UN Web TV.
115th Session of the UN Human Rights Committee
On November 6, 2015, the Human Rights Committee concluded its 115th session, which began on October 19. During the session, the Human Rights Committee considered the fifth report of Austria, second report of Benin, second report of Greece, fifth report of Iraq, fourth report of South Korea, third report of San Marino, and third report of Suriname regarding their implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It also adopted lists of issues for upcoming reviews regarding Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Guatemala, and Hungary. [OHCHR Press Release] With regard to previous reviews, the Committee considered the implementation of its concluding observations by Kenya, Tajikistan, Paraguay, Mauritania, Finland, Nepal, Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia, Albania, and Iceland through its follow-up procedure during this session.
The Human Rights Committee bases its reviews on documentation including: the States periodic reports, its own lists of issues, States’ replies to the lists of issues, and alternative reports submitted by civil society organizations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs). States parties may be present during the consideration of their documents. During the session, the Committee holds an interactive dialogue with representatives of each State under review. The Committee has already published its concluding observations, including recommendations for improved implementation, regarding the reports of Austria, Benin, Greece, Iraq, South Korea, San Marino, and Suriname.
This month, the Human Rights Committee also considered two communications submitted under the first Optional Protocol to the Covenant, which authorizes the Committee to consider individual complaints alleging violations of the ICCPR. It also discussed its draft General Comment on the right to life, and debated specific revisions of the text. [OHCHR Press Release: Draft General Comment]
To access documents and additional information related to this Human Rights Committee session, visit the 115 Session webpage. View video of the Committee’s interactive dialogue with the States under review via UN Treaty Body Webcast.
62nd Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
The CEDAW Committee is holding its 62nd session from October 26 to November 20, 2015. CEDAW Committee will review 11 States’ reports on their implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Specifically, it will consider Lebanon’s combined fourth and fifth periodic report, Liberia’s combined seventh and eighth report, Madagascar’s combined sixth and seventh report, Malawi’s seventh periodic report, Portugal’s combined eighth and ninth report, Russia’s eighth report, Slovakia’s combined fifth and sixth report, Slovenia’s combined fifth and sixth report, Timor-Leste’s combined second and third periodic report, United Arab Emirates’ combined second and third report, and Uzbekistan’s fifth periodic report. According to the session agenda, the Committee’s working groups on communications and inquiries met just prior to the session to review individual complaints and appeals submitted under the Optional Protocol to CEDAW. The Committee will also adopt a provisional agenda for the 63rd session. [OHCHR Press Release: CEDAW]
The CEDAW Committee first receives the periodic reports of States parties, then sends a list of issues to request additional detail or clarification with regard to specific provisions of CEDAW or matters of concern, and then reviews the States’ replies to the list of issues. Civil society organizations and NHRIs may also submit alternative reports to supplement the CEDAW Committee’s review of the States’ implementation of the treaty. Watch the live webcast of the CEDAW Committee’s interactive dialogue with the States under review on UN Treaty Body Webcast.
During this session, the CEDAW Committee held informal meetings with civil society organizations in order to receive information regarding the States under review. [OHCHR Press Release: Civil Society Representatives] Following the session, the Committee’s pre-sessional working group also met with civil society groups that provided information concerning the States to be reviewed during the 64th session. See CEDAW Committee Secretariat, Participation by Non-Governmental Organizations.
For more information on the CEDAW Committee’s 62nd session, including links to the reports of the States and stakeholders, the agenda, and lists of issues from the CEDAW Committee, visit the 62 Session webpage.
23rd Session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group is holding its 23rd session from November 2 to November 13, 2015. The UPR Working Group, which is composed of the Human Rights Council’s 47 Member States, will review the general human rights records of Micronesia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nauru, Rwanda, Nepal, Saint Lucia, Oman, Myanmar, Austria, Australia, Georgia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Sao Tome and Principe. [OHCHR Press Release: UPR] This will include State reports, reports of UN human rights mechanisms including treaty bodies or special procedures, and stakeholder information provided by groups such as civil society organizations and NHRIs. In particular, the review will focus on these 14 States’ implementations of the recommendations made during the first UPR cycle.
Based on State recommendations made during an interactive dialogue, the Human Rights Council will adopt a final report during its February – March 2016 session for each country reviewed. [OHCHR Press Release: UPR] Watch the interactive dialogue with each State on UN Web TV.
For more information on the 23rd session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group, visit the UPR Sessions webpage. To access the documentation related to each country, visit the Documentation webpage.
56th Session of the Committee Against Torture
The Committee Against Torture (CAT) will hold its 56th session from November 9 to December 9, 2015. It will consider the fourth periodic report of Liechtenstein, fourth periodic report of Azerbaijan, Austria’s sixth report, Denmark’s combined sixth and seventh report, the fifth periodic reports of China – including Hong Kong and Macau, and Jordan’s third periodic report. [OHCHR Press Release: CAT] The State reports and alternative reports submitted by stakeholders will refer to the State’s implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture). The Committee will hold an interactive dialogue with each State under review; these sessions can be viewed on UN Treaty Body Webcast.
During this session, CAT’s programme of work includes preparing for upcoming reviews of France, Ghana, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia at future sessions.
According to its agenda, CAT will also privately consider communications submitted to it under Article 20 of the Convention, which allows it to review reliable information which suggests that torture is being committed, and Article 22, which authorizes CAT to consider individual complaints from alleged victims against States who have accepted the Committee’s competence by declaration.
Documentation, including State and alternative reports, the session agenda, and lists of issues, as well as additional information on this session is available on the 56 Session webpage.
27th Session of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) will hold its 27th session from November 16 to 20, 2015. While the SPT meets in private and does not publish specific agendas, its sessions provide an opportunity for the SPT’s 25 members to report on and discuss upcoming nad recent activities in connection with particular countries, regions, and thematic priorities. Specifically, in his or her capacity as rapporteur for several countries, each SPT member shares information on the status of national preventative mechanisms, with a view to discussing what additional efforts can be made to improve Member States’ compliance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Regionally-focused working groups of SPT members engage in similar reporting back to the plenary regarding follow-up on visits to Member States.
Thematic working groups discuss topics including health, persons deprived of liberty, development of normative standards relevant tot he Subcommittee’s work, and its own methods and practices. Lastly, the Subcommittee discusses the purpose, challenges, and details of upcoming and recently completed country visits.
The SPT’s Rules of Procedure dictate that all its reports and sessions are closed and confidential. Once annually, the Subcommittee convenes a meeting of there is a dialogue with States parties to the Optional Protocol, and it may also hold ad ho sessions to gather information fro civil society or other sources. These activities are included in teh SPT’s annual reports.
88th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The 88th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will be held from November 23 to December 11, 2015. CERD’s agenda includes examination of the 17th to 22nd periodic reports of Egypt, sixth through eighth reports of Lithuania, Mongolia’s 19th to 22nd reports, Slovenia’s eighth through 11th reports, fourth to sixth combined report of Turkey, and the Holy See’s 16th through 23rd periodic reports. In order to consider compliance and implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the Committee will also consider alternative reports submitted by civil society organizations. Its interactive dialogue with each State under review will be webcast on UN Treaty Body Webcast.
In addition to reviewing States parties’ reports, CERD will consider communications submitted to it pursuant to the individual complaint mechanism established in Article 14 of ICERD. It will also discuss potential early warning measures or urgent action procedures; monitor States’ implementation of prior concluding observations through its follow-up procedure; discuss activities related to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the Durban Review Conference; and address its role vis-a-vis the Universal Periodic Review. See Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Annotated Provisional Agenda, UN Doc. CERD/C/88/1, 28 September 2015.
Documents, including States’ reports, alternative reports, and the session agenda, are available on the 88 Session webpage.
For more information on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Human Rights Committee, Universal Periodic Review Working Group, Committee Against Torture, Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, or the other universal and regional human rights monitoring bodies, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.