In the month of November, various universal and regional bodies will assess States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through debates, the consideration of State and civil society reports, country visits, and the review of individual complaints. Six United Nations treaty bodies will meet throughout November to engage with States regarding their treaty obligations related to civil and political rights, torture, the rights of women, racial discrimination, and slavery. The UN Human Rights Council will host panel discussions and forums related to business and human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and minority issues. Further, the Human Rights Council will wrap up the Universal Periodic Review Working Group session that began last month. Six UN special rapporteurs will conduct country visits and three working groups will meet in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss issues pertaining to arbitrary detention, people of African descent, and the use of mercenaries. The 71st regular session of the United Nations General Assembly continues in New York this month, as well.
Regionally, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights will all be in session. Finally, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will hear three cases, related to the right to nondiscrimination in the context of receiving pensions based on employment, the right to life in the context of adequate medical treatment, and the right to privacy where an employer viewed personal correspondence of an employee.
The UN treaty body sessions and the public hearings of the European Court, Inter-American Commission, Inter-American Court, and African Court may be watched via UN Web TV, the European Court’s website, the Inter-American Commission’s website, Vimeo, and YouTube, respectively. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.
Human Rights Committee: 118th Session Continues
The Human Rights Committee will continue its 118th Session through November 4 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to its Programme of Work, the Committee will meet privately to prepare its concluding observations on concerning implementation of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by the Jamaica, Colombia, Azerbaijan, and Morocco.
Further, Committee task forces will meet to consider and adopt lists of issues on Honduras, Madagascar, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Liechtenstein. States parties are expected to respond to lists of issues before their interactive dialogue with the Committee. The Committee will also adopt lists of issues prior to reporting for Paraguay and Togo, and both States are expected to reply, which the Committee will review as a State report under the simplified reporting procedure.
Finally, the Committee also has a public session on its general comment on Article 6 of the Covenant scheduled for November 2nd and closed sessions on the 2nd and the 3rd to consider two communications submitted to the Committee involving Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
To view session materials, including States’ Reports and replies on lists of issues and information submitted by civil society, visit the 118th Session webpage. A detailed explanation of all topics and issues covered during the Session is also available in IJRC’s prior post on October sessions.
Committee Against Torture: 59th Session
The Committee Against Torture (CAT) will hold its 59th session in Geneva, Switzerland from November 7 to December 7. According to the provisional agenda, the CAT will hold interactive dialogues with Armenia, Cabo Verde, Ecuador, Finland, Monaco, Namibia, Sri Lanka, and Turkmenistan concerning their implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. After considering these States’ reports and civil society’s information, the Committee will adopt concluding observations, which will be published at a later date, to indicate recommendations from the Committee and positive developments in implementing the Convention. During this session, it will also adopt lists of issues for Australia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Montenegro, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United States of America for the purposes of those States’ next reporting cycles.
Additionally, according to the programme of work, the CAT will discuss a revised draft of the General Comment on Article 3 of the Convention and meet separately with the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims; the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT); Interpol; and the European Court of Human Rights. It will convene privately to consider individual complaints, reprisal allegations, and the Committee’s inquiries to States concerning allegations of systematic use of torture.
For more information on the session, including State reports, lists of issues, and information from civil society organizations, visit the 59th Session webpage.
Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture: 30th Session
The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment will conduct its 30th session from November 14 to November 18. The Subcommittee is tasked with conducting visits to places where persons may be deprived of their liberty and with assisting and advising States in the establishment of National Preventive Mechanisms. See OHCHR, Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT): Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. 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 and recent activities in connection with specific countries, regions, and thematic priorities. The SPT does publish annual reports on its activities.
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: 65th Session Continues and the 67th Session of the Pre-sessional Working Group
65th Session Continues
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will continue its 65th Session in Geneva, Switzerland through November 18. According to its programme of work, the Committee will conduct interactive dialogues with Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Estonia, Honduras, The Netherlands, and Switzerland concerning their implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). It will later adopt and issue concluding observations for each State that will include recommendations for improved implementation and recognize positive developments.
For a detailed explanation of all topics and issues covered during this Session, please visit IJRC’s October news post. To view session materials, including States’ Reports and replies on lists of issues and information submitted by civil society, visit the 65th Session webpage.
67th Session of the Pre-Sessional Working Group
The CEDAW Committee will hold its 67th Pre-Sessional Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland from November 21 to November 25 to adopt a list of issues prior to reporting for Luxembourg and to consider State reports from Barbados, Costa Rica, Italy, Montenegro, Niger, Nigeria, and Thailand.
Pre-sessional working groups meet six months before a State’s report is considered in an interactive dialogue with the full Committee. After hearing from a State, the pre-sessional working group issues a list of questions that the State is required to answer before it appears before the Committee. Civil society organizations may submit reports for the CEDAW Committee to consider along with the States’ reports.
To view session documents, including States parties’ reports, visit the 67th Session webpage.
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: 91st Session
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will hold its 91st session from November 11 to December 9. According to the proposed programme of work, the CERD will conduct interactive dialogues with Argentina, Uruguay, Togo, Portugal, Turkmenistan, and Italy concerning their implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. After considering their reports and information from civil society, the Committee will later issue concluding observations on each State, noting challenges and positive developments. According to the NGO Information Note, Aay civil society organizations wanting to attend the Session must register by November 14.
According to the agenda, the Committee also will consider the need for urgent action procedures or early warning measures, which is now a regular agenda item for each session. The Committee will also consider individual communications and consider follow-up information from States on the Committee’s recommendations and observations.
To view session documents, including information submitted by civil society, visit the 91st Session webpage.
Human Rights Council: Thematic Forums, Panel Discussion, and the 26th Session Universal Periodic Review
The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, a committee established to function as a think-tank for the Council and work at its discretion, will hold a panel discussion on promoting international cooperation to support national human rights follow-up systems and processes on November 10, 2016. The Committee is composed of 18 independent experts from different professional backgrounds representing the various regions of the world.
The 5th session of the Forum on Business and Human Rights will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from November 14 to November 16, under the guidance of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. The Forum is an annual discussion on topics related to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other topics in business and human rights. It is open to all relevant stakeholders. According to the agenda, the November Forum will reflect four messages, which are that States should be leaders in implementing the Guiding Principles, that leadership should be recognized and exercised by all entities in a value chain, that there is a need for better models of action and accountability, and that access to remedies for victims need to be improved. Visit the Forum’s webpage for further information, including registration.
The first session of the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law will be held from November 21 to November 22 in Geneva, Switzerland. The theme of the Forum will be “Widening the Democratic Space: the role of youth in public decision-making.” Pursuant to Resolution 28/14, adopted on March 26, 2015, the Forum will be held every two years following this first session and will be open to States, UN entities, intergovernmental organizations, human rights institutions, academics, and civil society. See UN General Assembly, Resolution on Human rights, democracy and the rule of law, UN Doc. A/HRC/RES/28/14, 9 April 2015, para. 3. The purpose of the Forum is to promote dialogue and cooperation between States and relevant stakeholders on democracy and the rule of law, as well as to identify best practices, challenges, and opportunities for States to respect human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Visit the Forum’s webpage for more information, including registration details.
The 9th session on the Forum on Minority Issues will take place from November 24 to November 25 under guidance from the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsak. The Forum was established pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 6/15 and renewed by Resolution 19/23 on March 23, 2012. According to the Forum’s webpage, the purpose of the Forum is to “identify and analyze best practices, challenges, opportunities and initiatives” to ensure that the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities is rigorously implemented. In the past, the Forum has been open to Member States, UN mechanisms and bodies, intergovernmental organizations, regional mechanisms and organizations, national human rights institutions, experts on minority issues, and non-governmental organizations.
26th Session of the Universal Periodic Review
Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a peer review mechanism designed to assess and advance human rights in all UN Member States, began its 26th Session on October 31 and it will continue through November 11. The States under review at the 26th Session are Togo, Syrian Arab Republic, Venezuela, Iceland, Zimbabwe, Lithuania, Uganda, East Timor, Moldova, Haiti, and South Sudan.
Additional details on the 26th Session is available in IJRC’s prior post on October sessions. For more information about past, present, and future UPR sessions, including timetables and lists of troikas, visit the UPR Sessions webpage.
UN Special Rapporteurs’ Country Visits
Six UN special rapporteurs will conduct country visits in November. The Human Rights Council authorizes these special procedure mandate holders to promote and monitor human rights across the globe on specific thematic issues.
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Francois Crepeau, will visit Nauru between November 9 and November 11 and Australia between November 1 and November 18. The Special Rapporteur on the right to food will visit Paraguay between November 3 and November 10. The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression will visit Turkey between 14 November and November 18. The Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health will visit Croatia between November 28 and December 8. The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance will visit Australia between November 28 and December 5.
During their country visits, each expert will assess both the overall human rights situation in the country and issues specific to their thematic focus. Experts also meet with civil society, government, and national human rights institutions when they visit a country. Their findings are published later in reports addressed to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. See OHCHR, Country and visits of Special Procedures.
To view the full list of forthcoming country visits, visit the OHCHR website.
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: 77th Session
According to the OHCHR’s calendar of meetings and events for 2016, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will hold its 77th session from November 21 to November 25 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Working Group is tasked with investigating cases of arbitrary deprivation of liberty, conducting field missions, and coordinating with other Human Rights Council mechanisms to ensure that States depriving persons of liberty do so consistently with international standards. After the Working Group adopts opinions on individual complaints, it later publishes them on its website.
For more information about this working group, visit IJRC’s website.
Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent: 19th Session
The Working Group of experts on people of African descent will hold its 19th session from November 28 to December 2 in Geneva, Switzerland. The mandate of the Working Group is to study racial discrimination against people of African descent around the world and make recommendations to eliminate that discrimination. The 19th session will be a private meeting. See OHCHR, Sessions of the Working Group.
For more information on this working group, visit IJRC’s website.
Working Group on the use of mercenaries: 29th Session
The Working Group on use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination will hold its 29th session from November 28 to December 2 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Working Group has been tasked with monitoring mercenaries and related activities and to study causes, new problems, and related trends.
For more information about this working group, visit IJRC’s website.
71st United Nations General Assembly
The 71st regular session of the UN General Assembly is underway in New York. The session, which began on September 13 and will conclude on December 12, has already included the election of 14 Member States to the Human Rights Council. In the coming weeks, the General Assembly will elect individual members to the International Law Commission and hear reports from various UN entities, including the Human Rights Council, special procedures mandate holders, and international criminal tribunals. Consult the online schedule and programme of work for additional details.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: 159th Ordinary Period of Sessions
The 159th Ordinary Period of Sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will take place from November 29 to December 7 in Panama City. [IACHR] During the sessions, the IACHR will analyze and approve reports on cases, conduct working meetings regarding States’ progress on precautionary measures currently in place, and facilitate friendly settlements. [IACHR Press Release] The IACHR will also hold public hearings; meetings with civil society and representatives of Member States; and meetings on topics related to its quinquennial strategic plan, its annual report, and measures adopted to reduce the procedural backlog, among others.
It is expected that about 30 public hearings will be conducted during this Period of Sessions. The public hearings will take place during the mornings of December 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7, and working meetings will be held during the afternoons of December 2 and 5. The deadline to request hearings and working meetings through the IACHR’s online system was at midnight on October 10, 2016. [IACHR Press Release]
Inter-American Court of Human Rights: 115th Regular Session
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is scheduled to hold its 115th regular session from October 17 to 21, 2016. No additional details concerning this session are publicly available at this time. During its sessions, the Court may hold hearings concerning pending cases, prepare forthcoming judgments, and consider requests for advisory opinions, among other matters.
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights: 59th Ordinary Session Continues
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) is meeting in Banjul, Gambia for its 59th Ordinary Session until November 4. See ACHPR, 59th Ordinary Session: 21 October – 4 November 2016.
The ACHPR hosted a human rights dialogue focused on the theme of the year, the rights of women, and reviewed the periodic reports of Mauritius and Côte d’Ivoire on their implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The ACHPR also discussed cooperation with national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and civil society. According to the Session’s agenda, in November the ACHPR will only be reading the final communique and conducting the closing ceremony.
African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 28th Ordinary Session Continues
The sessions of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) overlap with the ACHPR’s and African Court’s ongoing sessions so that the three bodies could conduct a joint opening ceremony to celebrate the African Year of Human Rights with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women. See ACHPR, Information for Participants.
The ACERWC, which considers State reports on compliance with the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and issues concluding observations, held its 28th Ordinary Session in Banjul, Gambia from October 21 to November 1.
According to its agenda, the ACERWC considered State party reports from Ghana, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, and Eritrea. The Committee also considered two communications, one against Malawi and one involving Mauritania. In the former case, in which the complainants alleged that Malawi excluded children between the ages of 16 and 18 from the protections afforded them under the Charter, the parties reached an amicable settlement. Additionally, the ACERWC reviewed civil society reports, held consultations on violence against children and SDGs, adopted a general comment on Article 31 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, adopted a report on the impact of armed conflict on children throughout the continent, and celebrated the launch of a new database of its case law. Past sessions’ activity reports and other information on the Committee can be found on its website.
African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights 43rd Ordinary Session Continues, 7th Extraordinary Session
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is holding its 43rd Ordinary Session from October 31 through November 18, 2016.. The African Court will also hold its 7th Extraordinary Session from November 28 to December 2. During its sessions, the African Court holds hearings on the admissibility and merits of pending complaints alleging violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and any other international human rights treaty
European Court of Human Rights: Grand Chamber to Hear Three Cases
In November, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold Grand Chamber hearings on three cases. See ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings. The Grand Chamber Panel accepted the three cases for referral to the Grand Chamber following a chamber decision.
Fábián v. Hungary
On November 9, the Grand Chamber will hear the case of Fábián v. Hungary, which concerns Gyula Fabian’s complaint that due to an amendment to the relevant law his old-age pension was suspended because he had post-retirement employment as a civil servant. The same rule was not established for pensioners who were employed in the private sector. Fabian alleges violations of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the European Convention (the protection of property) and of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention.
The Grand Chamber Panel accepted the Hungarian Government’s request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber on May 2, 2016. In its chamber judgment, the European Court of Human Rights held that the State violated Article 14 of the Convention in conjunction with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, noting the difference in treatment between public and private employed retirees and between categories of civil servants with regard to their entitlement to old-age pension. Having found a violation of Article 14, the Chamber did not consider whether there had been a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. [ECtHR: Press Release]
Lopes de Sousa Fernandes v. Portugal
On November 16, the Grand Chamber will hear from the parties in Lopes de Sousa Fernandes v. Portugal, a case that deals with the death of Maria Isabel Lopes de Sousa Fernandes’ husband following a nasal polyp surgery and subsequent medical proceedings amounting to medical malpractice. Fernandes alleges a violation to her husband’s right to life relying on Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Grand Chamber Panel accepted the Portuguese Government’s request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber on May 2, 2016. The chamber’s judgment held that there had been a violation of Article 2 of the Convention focusing on the fact that Fernandes’ husband had undergone a surgery with a serious risk of infection, which required a medical intervention that conformed to the medical protocol on post-operative supervision. The fact that the necessary medical intervention did not happen, combined with the lack of coordination between the public hospital’s emergency unit and other medical departments, made appropriate emergency care inaccessible. [ECtHR: Press Release]
Bărbulescu v. Romania
On November 30, the Grand Chamber will hold a hearing in Bărbulescu v. Romania, which concerns Bogdan Mihai Bărbulescu’s dismissal by his employer, a private company, for having used the company’s Internet for personal purposes during working hours in breach of internal regulations. The Grand Chamber will consider whether the employer’s monitoring of Bărbulescu’s internet communications is a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to respect for private and family life, the home, and correspondence. [ECtHR: Press Release]
In its chamber judgment, the European Court of Human Rights held that there had been no violation of Article 8 and noted that that a fair balance had been struck between Mr Bărbulescu’s right to respect for his private life and the employer’s interests. [ECtHR: Press Release]
For more information on UN treaty bodies, the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Committee Against Torture, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Universal Periodic Review, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the UN special procedures, or for upcoming sessions and hearings, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.