July 2017: United Nations and Regional Human Rights Bodies in Session

Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland
Credit: Risuciu via Wikimedia Commons

In the month of July, various universal and regional bodies will assess States’ compliance with their human rights obligations by engaging in interactive dialogues, considering State and civil society reports, conducting country visits, and reviewing individual complaints. Four United Nations treaty bodies will meet to engage with States regarding their treaty obligations related to the rights of women, civil and political rights, torture, and racial discrimination. A working group will meet to discuss complaints submitted to the Human Rights Council, an expert mechanism will meet to discuss the rights of indigenous peoples, and two UN special procedure mandate holders will conduct country visits. Regionally, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the European Committee of Social Rights will be in session. Additionally, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will hear a case concerning the right to a fair trial in Croatia.

The UN treaty body sessions and the public hearings of the European Court and Inter-American Commission, may be watched via UN Web TV, the European Court’s website, and the Inter-American Commission’s website and Vimeo, respectively. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit IJRC’s Hearings & Sessions Calendar.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women 67th Session and 69th Pre-Sessional Working Group

67th Session

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a group of independent experts charged with monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), will hold its 67th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from July 3 to 21, 2017.

At this session, the Committee will conduct interactive dialogues with Italy, Thailand, Romania, Costa Rica, Montenegro, Barbados, Niger, and Nigeria and review each of those countries’ State reports on their implementation of CEDAW. The Committee will also hold meetings with and receive information from national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations on those States’ compliance. The Committee will later adopt and issue concluding observations on each States’ developments and areas for improvement in implementing CEDAW.

For more information and to view session documents such as the provisional agenda and proposed programme of work, visit the 67th Session webpage.

69th Pre-Sessional Working Group

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will also hold its 69th Pre-Sessional Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland from July 24 to 28, 2017. According to the 69th Pre-Sessional Working Group webpage, the Committee will consider State reports from Chile, Fiji, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Suriname on their compliance with the Convention. At the pre-sessional working group meeting, the working group adopts lists of issues prior to reporting for each State to respond to before the full Committee reviews their reports at a later session.

To view relevant pre-sessional working group documents, including each State’s report, visit the 69th Pre-Sessional Working Group webpage.

For more information about the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, visit IJRC’s website.

Human Rights Committee 120th Session

The Human Rights Committee, a body of independent experts charged with monitoring States parties’ implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), will hold its 120th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from July 3 to 28, 2017.

At this session, the Committee will consider the State reports of Honduras, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Switzerland, and will consider the country situation of Swaziland in the absence of a State report. After consideration of the State reports and alternative reports from civil society, in a closed meeting the Committee will also adopt concluding observations that state the positive developments and areas of work for each State party under consideration. The concluding observations will be published to the Committee’s website at a later date.

Task forces on the Committee will consider and adopt lists of issues on Lebanon and Liberia. Each State will respond to the lists of issues in reporting to the Committee ahead of its interactive dialogue. The Committee will adopt lists of issues prior to reporting for Chad, Czech Republic, and Peru. These States will submit their replies, which will be considered by the Committee as their State reports under the simplified reporting procedure.

Non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions will brief the Committee on the States under consideration in closed sessions. The sessions involving the examination of the States’ reports, however, are public.

For more information and to view session materials, including the provisional agenda, programme of work, States’ reports and replies to the lists of issues, and information submitted by civil society, visit the 120th Session webpage.

For more information about the Human Rights Committee, visit IJRC’s website.

Committee against Torture 61st Session

The Committee against Torture (CAT) will hold its 61st Session in Geneva, Switzerland from July 24 to August 11, 2017. The CAT will hold interactive dialogues with Antigua and Barbuda, Ireland, Panama, and Paraguay regarding their implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. After reviewing these States’ reports and submissions from civil society, the CAT will adopt concluding observations, noting positive developments and offering recommendations for improved implementation of the Convention.

Additionally, according to the programme of work, the CAT will discuss a revised draft of the General Comment on Article 3 of the Convention, hold a thematic hearing with the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and meet with various non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions. Those interested in attending the session in person or via conference may register here.

To view session documents, including the provisional agenda and programme of work, visit the 61st Session webpage. For more information about the CAT, visit IJRC’s website.

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 93rd Session

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will hold its 93rd Session in Geneva, Switzerland from July 31 to August 25, 2017. The CERD will review the State reports of Canada, Djibouti, Ecuador, Kuwait, New Zealand, Russia, Tajikistan, and the United Arab Emirates to assess their implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. After reviewing the States’ reports and civil society alternative reports, the CERD will issue concluding observations, noting challenges to and positive developments in implementing the Convention.

At this session, the CERD will also discuss follow up activities to the previously held World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the Durban Review Conference.

Representatives from non-governmental organizations or national human rights institutions interested in attending the session must register by July 26. To view session documents, including States’ reports, the provisional agenda, and programme of work, visit the 93rd Session webpage.

For more information about the CERD, visit IJRC’s website.

Working Group on Situations 20th Session

The Working Group on Situations will hold its 20th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from July 10–14, 2017.

The Working Group is a component of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s complaint procedure and is composed of five appointed members who serve one-year terms (renewable once). The Working Group examines communications transferred to it by the Working Group on Communications to ascertain whether and where consistent patterns of human rights violations exist in order to provide recommendations to the Human Rights Council. More information about the Human Rights Council’s complaint procedure can be found here.

Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 10th Session

The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a group of experts that provides the Human Rights Council with expertise and advice on the rights of indigenous peoples, will hold its 10th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from July 10 to 14, 2017. At its annual sessions, the Expert Mechanism engages with State representatives, indigenous peoples, organizations, civil society, inter-governmental organizations, and members of academia.

At this session, the Expert Mechanism will present its new mandate, study and advise on good practices and challenges faced by indigenous peoples (including discrimination), engage in interactive dialogues with national and regional human rights institutions, follow up on the participation of indigenous peoples in the United Nations in light of the previously held World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, and discuss its future work.

Those interested in attending the session must register by June 30. To view the session’s provisional agenda and programme of work, visit the 10th Session webpage.

United Nations Special Procedures Country Visits

Two UN special procedures will conduct country visits during the month of July.

The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises is scheduled to visit Peru from July 10 to 19, 2017.

The Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism is scheduled to visit Tanzania from July 18 to 28, 2017.

These special procedures are tasked by the Human Rights Council with monitoring and reporting on specific human rights concerns throughout the world. During country visits, independent experts assess the overall human rights situation of a country as well as issues specific to their thematic focus. Experts often meet with members of civil society, government officials, and representatives of national human rights institutions in that country. Following each visit, experts prepare and submit reports to the Human Rights Council. See OHCHR, Country and Other Visits of Special Procedures.

To view the full list of forthcoming country visits, visit the OHCHR website. For more information about each special procedure, visit IJRC’s website.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 163rd Extraordinary Period of Sessions

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold its 163rd Extraordinary Period of Sessions in Lima, Peru from July 3 to 7, 2017. The IACHR will hold public thematic and merits hearings on matters involving human rights violations in Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, and Ecuador. The IACHR called for two of the 18 hearings on its own initiative. One of those hearings is on killings of women on the basis of gender in Argentina and the other on the follow-up mechanism for Ayotzinapa, Mexico.

The IACHR is a regional human rights body tasked with monitoring and ensuring the protection of human rights in the 35 Member States of the Organization of American States. This is the third of five sessions that the IACHR has announced it will hold this year. [IACHR Press Release] The first took place in March at the IACHR headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the second took place in May in Buenos Aires, Argentina. See IACHR, IACHR Sessions. The fourth session will take place in September in Mexico City, and the fifth will take place from October 23 to November 1, 2017, in Montevideo, Uruguay. See IACHR, Calendar.

Individuals and NGOs may submit requests for thematic hearings prior to sessions, with submission deadlines for each session available on the IACHR calendar. The IACHR may review complaints concerning alleged violations of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights, and other regional human rights treaties.

For more information about the 163rd Extraordinary Period of Sessions, see its press release. For more information about the IACHR, visit IJRC’s website.

European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber Hearing

On July 12, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold a Grand Chamber hearing in one case, Zubac v. Croatia. See ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings.

The case concerns the refusal of Croatia’s Supreme Court to consider an appeal in a property rights case. The applicant and her husband had engaged Croatia’s judicial system seeking the nullification of a contract for the sale of a house belonging to the applicant’s father-in-law, who had allegedly signed the contract under duress. The initial value of the property in question was listed as 10,000 HRK, but was later increased to 105,000 HRK, a value acknowledged and upheld by Croatia’s lower courts. Croatia’s Supreme Court, citing the original documents that placed the property’s value at 10,000 HRK, refused to hear the case on appeal because the value of the disputed property reportedly fell below the relevant threshold of 100,000 HRK. The applicant asserts that her denial of access to the Croatian Supreme Court violates her rights under Article 6 (the right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights. [ECtHR Press Release]

In its October 2016 chamber judgment on the matter, the ECtHR found a violation of Article 6, stating that the Croatian Supreme Court’s application of the rules regarding property value for purposes of determining appeal eligibility was “excessively formalistic” and contrary to general principles of procedural fairness. [ECtHR Press Release] The Grand Chamber will hear this case on July 12, 2017.

The ECtHR, which has its seat in Strasbourg, France, is a regional human rights body that issues judgments regarding alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and its protocols. Complaints (or “applications”) may be brought before the ECtHR by either individuals or States and must allege violations committed by one of the 47 States parties to the Convention.

For more information about the ECtHR, visit IJRC’s website.

European Committee of Social Rights 293rd Session

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will hold its 293rd Session in Strasbourg, France from July 3 to 7, 2017. The ECSR assesses States’ compliance with the European Social Charter, which protects economic and social rights. During its sessions, the ECSR reviews collective complaints, examines national reports, and follows up on the Turin process, which aims to improve implementation of the Charter at the continental level.

According to the ECSR’s calendar for national reporting, in the year 2017, it will consider State reports concerning the Charter rights on health, social security, and social protection from France, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, and Finland. The ECSR will consider simplified reports on the same topic from the Netherlands, Sweden, Croatia, Norway, Slovenia, Cyprus, and the Czech Republic. Simplified reports focus on areas of non-conformity identified in the Committee’s previous conclusions. The States’ reports were due in October 2016. The Committee adopts and publishes conclusions at the end of the calendar year on each State’s compliance with the relevant provisions of the European Social Charter. The Committee’s conclusions may also include recommendations. See IJRC, European Committee of Social Rights.

The European Committee of Social Rights is a regional human rights body that oversees the protection of certain economic and social rights in most of Europe. In addition to the reporting system, the Committee also receives collective complaints against States on violations of the European Social Charter.

More information, including a session agenda and synopsis, will be available on the ECSR’s sessions webpage. For more information about the ECSR, visit IJRC’s website.

Additional Information

For more information about the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Human Rights Committee, the Committee against Torture, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, the UN special procedures, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights, or the European Committee of Social Rights, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

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