March 2016: Regional and Universal Human Rights Bodies in Session
During the month of March 2016, ten supranational human rights bodies will be in session. These include three regional human rights monitoring bodies: the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR), the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACtHR). Additionally, seven United Nations mechanisms will meet in Geneva, Switzerland: the Human Rights Council; the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee); the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR); the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED); the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD); the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW); and the Human Rights Committee. State representatives will receive expert reports and discuss current human rights concerns during the Human Rights Council session, while the six UN treaty bodies in session will review States’ implementation of the respective treaties, 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.
African Court on Human and People’s Rights
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights will hold its 40th Ordinary Session in Arusha, Tanzania from February 29 to March 18, 2016. The judges will examine applications and requests for advisory opinions and hold two public hearings concerning pending complaints. [AfCHPR Press Release] During the session, the Court will hear arguments and evidence in the case of Victoire Ingabire, whose attempts to form an opposition party in compliance with Rwandan law resulted in her arrest and a 15-year sentence on multiple charges, including undermining state security, “belittling” the 1994 genocide, and spreading rumors to incite revolt. [BBC] See AfCHPR, Case Summary of Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza v. The Republic of Rwanda, Application No. 003/2014. The Court will also hear from the parties in Action pour la Protection des Droits de I’Homme (APDH) v. Côte d’Ivoire, a case alleging violations of Article 3 (right to equality before the law) and Article 17 (right to education) of the African Charter. [AfCHPR Press Release]
Both of the hearings will be live-streamed. Information on the session should be made available as it proceeds on the session webpage. To learn more about the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
European Committee of Social Rights
The European Committee of Social Rights will hold its 284th Session in Strasbourg, France from March 15 to 17, 2016. During the session, the Committee will examine the State report of Luxembourg for Conclusions XX-4 (2015) relating to the rights related to children, families, and migrants, and will also as well as discuss its work regarding articles of the European Social Charter that States have not accepted (“non-accepted provisions”).
To learn more about the European Committee of Social Rights, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
Inter-American Court on Human Rights
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) celebrated its 113th Regular Period of Sessions from February 15 to March 2, 2016 at its seat in San Jose, Costa Rica. [IACtHR Press Release (Spanish only)] At the start of the session, the Court formally opened its judicial year, welcoming new President Judge Roberto F. Caldas and Vice President Judge Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor Poisot. The Court swore in new judges Elizabeth Odio Benito, Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni, and Patricio Pazmiño Freire, as well as returning Judge Eduardo Vio Grossi. The opening day’s agenda also included a seminar in which judges of various regional and universal courts discussed their institutions’ experiences and challenges. [IACtHR Press Release]
During the session, the Court held public hearings concerning five pending cases: Flor Freire v. Ecuador (concerning a soldier’s dismissal for “homosexual acts”), “Fazenda Brasil Verde” Workers v. Brazil (forced labor and indentured servitude), Zegarra Marín v. Peru (criminal conviction based only on co-defendants’ allegations), Tenorio Roca et al. v. Peru (enforced disappearance during internal armed conflict), Herrera Espinoza et al. v. Ecuador (torture and arbitrary detention in drug trafficking investigation). [IACtHR Press Release (Spanish only)] View videos of the hearings on the Court’s Vimeo page. For additional details regarding each case, visit the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ Cases in the Court webpage.
The Court also met privately to discuss the pending cases of Chinchilla Sandoval et al. v. Guatemala (death in custody of a diabetic prisoner), Duque v. Colombia (pension benefits of surviving same-sex partner), and Yarce et al. v. Colombia (harassment and killing of human rights defenders). Finally, it reviewed Panama’s request for an advisory opinion concerning the rights of legal persons, specifically trade union’s rights to strike and to form federations and confederations. [IACtHR Press Release]
For more information on the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
Human Rights Council
The Human Rights Council will hold its 31st regular session in Geneva, Switzerland from February 29 to March 24, 2016. The four-week session will include interactive discussions, debates, and panels as well as review prior outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review. Interactive dialogues will take place on such issues as the situations in Burundi, Syria, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, and Myanmar. The Council will hold high-level panels topics including the fiftieth anniversary of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; climate change and the right to health; preventing violent extremism; human rights and the HIV/AIDS epidemic; and the incompatibility between democracy and racism. The Council will also host the annual meeting on the rights of the child and a debate on the rights of persons with disabilities. [OHCHR Press Release]
A number of experts (“special procedures”) will present reports on their recent country visits and other activities concerning specific States and rights topics. The Council will also receive thematic reports on reforming the treaty body system, the protection of the family, arbitrary deprivation of nationality, the situation of migrants in transit, information and communications technology and child sexual exploitation, and the realization of the right to work. The Council will also hear a presentation of the report of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights on its first session. [OHCHR Press Release]
The Council will consider the outcome reports from the most recent Universal Periodic Review of Micronesia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nauru, Rwanda, Nepal and Austria, Australia, Georgia, Saint Lucia, Oman, Myanmar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Sao Tome and Principe.
To access documents and additional information related to this Human Rights Council session, visit the 31 Session webpage. To learn more about the Human Rights Council, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
The 63rd Session of the CEDAW Committee is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland from February 15 to March 4, 2016. The CEDAW Committee is reviewing the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) by the Czech Republic, Haiti, Iceland, Japan, Mongolia, Sweden, Tanzania, and Vanuatu.
The CEDAW Committee commenced the session with meetings with civil society representatives to hear information on the situation of women in some of the countries under review. Civil society representatives from Japan, Mongolia, Sweden, and Iceland reported ongoing problems including underreported and under-punished violence against women, gender pay gaps, lack of adequate implementation of CEDAW in their countries, and other concerns. [OHCHR Press Release: NGOs]
The CEDAW Committee will also hold its 65th Pre-Sessional Working Group from March 7 to 11, 2016 to consider the State reports of Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Canada, Estonia, Honduras, Netherlands, and Switzerland.
Watch the live webcast of the CEDAW Committee’s interactive dialogue with the States under review on UN Treaty Body Webcast. For more information on the CEDAW Committee’s 63rd session, including links to the reports of the States and stakeholders, the agenda, and lists of issues from the CEDAW Committee, visit the 63rd Session webpage.
Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
The CESCR is holding its 57th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from February 22 to March 4, 2016 to consider reports submitted by Canada, Kenya, and Namibia on their implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) . The session opened with an acknowledgement of the fiftieth anniversary of the ICESCR and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and recognition of the economic inequalities and various barriers which continue to threaten the fulfillment of economic and social rights. [OHCHR Press Release: CESCR]
The Committee, in the first week of the session, reviewed reports and held meetings with relevant stakeholders. Early in the session, civil society organizations from two of the reporting countries met with the Committee and raised several topics, including discrimination against women in the context of land ownership and inheritance, lack of gender equality in government, barriers to the right to adequate housing, discrimination against indigenous peoples, and economic disparities between racial communities. [OHCHR Press Release: CESCR] The Committee released statements regarding dialogues held with State representatives from Canada, Kenya, and Namibia. [OHCHR Press Release: Canada; OHCHR Press Release: Kenya; OHCHR Press Release: Namibia]
The CESCR will also hold its 57th Pre-Sessional Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland from March 7 to 11, 2016 to consider the State reports and meet with NGO representatives of Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Philippines, Poland, Tunisia, and Yemen.
For more information on the 57th session, including links to the reports of the States and stakeholders, the agenda, and lists of issues from the CESCR, visit the 57 Session webpage. For more information on the CESCR, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
Committee on Enforced Disappearances
The CED will hold its 10th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from March 7 to 18, 2016. The CED will review reports submitted by Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan, and Tunisia to assess their implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICED). According to the provisional program of work for the session, the Committee will also review individual communications and requests for urgent actions, commemorate the tenth anniversary of the ICED, assess contemporary challenges in the realm of enforced disappearances, create a program of work for the 11th Session, and work to develop lists of issues for the upcoming reviews of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Colombia.
For more information on the CED’s 10th Session, including links to the reports of the States and the agenda, visit the 10th Session webpage. For more information on the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The CRPD will hold its 15th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from March 29 to April 21, 2016 to review the State reports of Chile, Lithuania, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Thailand and Uganda on their implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ICRPD). According to the session agenda, the Committee will also invite dialogue with representatives of United Nations bodies, specialized agencies, non-governmental organizations, organizations of persons with disabilities and other related groups with the intent of strengthening cooperation with such bodies in order to enhance the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.
The Committee has established various working groups responsible for drafting its general comments in the areas of women with disabilities, the right to independent living and to be included in the community, and the right to education, and will spend time reviewing the progress of each. The Committee will also discuss implementing General Assembly Resolution 68/268 on strengthening and enhancing the effectiveness of the human rights treaty body system.
For more information on the 15th session, including links to the reports of the States and the agenda, visit the 15th Session webpage. For more information on the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
Commission on the Status of Women
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will hold its 60th Session at UN Headquarters in New York from March 14 to 24, 2016 to discuss the priority theme of women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development, and to review progress made concerning the 2013 session theme of elimination and prevention of violence against women and girls.
According to the agenda and program of work, the nine-day session will include a ministerial segment with round tables and other high-level interactive dialogues, general discussions, and panel discussions on such topics as enhancing national institutional arrangements for gender equality and fostering gender-responsive data design, collection, and analysis. CSW will consider reports compiled by UN Women as well as reports submitted by non-governmental organizations. Based off of these dialogues and reports, the Commission will then adopt its Agreed Conclusions, which outline its outcomes on the priority theme, identify gaps and challenges in the implementation of previous commitments, and provide action-oriented recommendations for all stakeholders. See UN Women, CSW60: Women’s Empowerment and its Link to Sustainable Development (2016). The Commission will also develop a provisional agenda for its 61st session.
Documentation, the session agenda, lists of issues, and additional information on this session are available on the 60th Session webpage. For more information on the Commission on the Status of Women, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
Human Rights Committee
The Human Rights Committee will hold its 116th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from March 7 to 31, 2016 to review State reports, as well as adopt lists of issues for future State reviews. According to the program of work, the Committee will consider the reports of Costa Rica, Namibia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Slovenia, South Africa, and Sweden concerning their implementation of the ICCPR. The Committee is to assess and adopt lists of issues for Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Colombia, Jamaica, Morocco, Slovakia, and Estonia. The Committee will also consider communications that have been submitted to it under the first Optional Protocol to the Covenant, which authorizes the Committee to consider individual complaints alleging violations of the ICCPR.
To access documents and additional information related to this Human Rights Committee session, visit the 116 Session webpage. View video of the Committee’s interactive dialogue with the States under review via UN Treaty Body Webcast. For more information on the Human Rights Committee, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.