November 2017: UN Treaty Bodies, UPR, and Regional Bodies in Session
In November, several universal and regional bodies will assess States’ compliance with their human rights obligations, through the consideration of State and civil society reports, country visits, dialogues, and hearings on individual complaints. Six United Nations treaty bodies will be holding sessions in the month of November on issues related to civil and political rights, women, racial discrimination, and torture. The Universal Periodic Review Working Group will also be in session and will review nine State reports, holding interactive dialogues with those States’ representatives. Seven UN Special Rapporteurs and one working group expert will conduct country visits, and three working groups will be in session in Geneva, Switzerland. Regionally, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), and African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR) will all be in session. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear three cases related to inhuman and degrading treatment in the context of the effectiveness of a criminal investigation, fair punishment in the context of suspension from public office as a penalty for conviction, and the legality of detention as a preventative measure.
The UN Human Rights Council’s and UN treaty bodies’ sessions may be watched via UN Web TV. The IACtHR’s session may be viewed on its website or Vimeo page, and the IACHR sessions may be viewed on its YouTube channel. The African Court sessions may be watched on its YouTube channel. The ECtHR hearings may be viewed on its webcast.
To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.
Human Rights Committee 121st Session
The UN Human Rights Committee will continue its 121st Session through November 10, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the programme of work, in October the Human Rights Committee considered the State reports of Australia, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Dominican Republic, Jordan, Mauritius, and Romania. Concluding observations on each State under review will be issued later, noting challenges and positive developments in the implementation of the States’ obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Additionally, in November, country report task forces will adopt lists of issues on reports from Algeria, Bahrain, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, which each of those States will respond to before their interactive dialogue with the Committee; a list of issues prior to reporting on Japan, which the Committee will consider the responses to in place of the State report; and lists of issues in the absence of a report for both the Gambia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In closed sessions, the Committee will also consider communications that allege violations of the ICCPR.
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women 68th Session and 70th Pre-Sessional Working Group
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) will continue its 68th Session, which started on October 23, through November 17, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the programme of work and the agenda, in October the Committee reviewed the State reports of Burkina Faso, Israel (under the simplified reporting procedure), Nauru, Paraguay, and Singapore. In November, the CEDAW Committee will review the State reports of Kuwait, Kenya, Oman, Norway, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Monaco, and Guatemala. After reviewing State reports, the Committee will discuss any follow-up matters and issue concluding observations at a later date, noting positive developments and challenges to implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Civil society is invited to participate in the session by providing relevant country information, which can be shared through written or oral submissions. Written information was due for submission on October 2, 2017, to firstname.lastname@example.org. The sessions also provide time for civil society to participate by delivering information orally. Informal public meetings with civil society will take place once a week during each of the three weeks of the session, and each of the meetings will focus on the corresponding countries under review during the given week. Civil society may make statements during those meetings, which may be viewed at http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.
70th Pre-Sessional Working Group
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women’s 70th Pre-Sessional Working Group will take place from November 20 to 24, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. The CEDAW Committee will consider the State reports of Australia, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Mexico, New Zealand, and Turkmenistan, and will adopt lists of issues prior to the full Committee’s consideration of the States’ reports at a later session, to which the States should respond before the full Committee’s review. The CEDAW Committee will also consider the list of issues prior to reporting for Bulgaria.
To view session documents, including State reports, visit the 70th Pre-Sessional Working Group webpage.
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 94th Session
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will hold its 94th Session from November 20 to December 8, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the agenda and programme of work, the CERD will review the State reports of Algeria, Australia, Belarus, Jordan, Serbia, and Slovakia. The CERD will issue concluding observations at a later date with notations on positive developments and challenges to the implementation of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
According to the Information Note for NGOs and the Information Note for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), the CERD invites civil society to make submissions, especially in the form of “alternative reports,” which follow the same presentation form as the relevant State submissions and supplement that information from the State. The submissions should be in English, where possible, otherwise French or Spanish is also acceptable. There is no translation of documents. Civil society members must submit documents by October 30, 2017 to the CERD Secretariat via email at CERD@ohchr.org.
To attend the session, civil society members should register online by November 15, 2017 here. NGOs may attend the sessions with delegations, but may not make statements during sessions with States under review; however, NGOs may organize “informal meetings” to present to Committee members. NHRIs not accredited by the Human Rights Council may also attend but not speak at the sessions; they may hold informal meetings with Committee members.
Committee Against Torture 62nd Session
The Committee Against Torture (CAT) will hold its 62nd Session from November 6 through December 6, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the programme of work and the agenda, the CAT will review the State reports of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Italy, Mauritius, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, and Timor-Leste. After considering State reports, the CAT will at a later date issue concluding observations on each State, noting the positive developments and challenges to implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The CAT will also adopt lists of issues for Mauritania and Tajikistan, as well as lists of issues prior to reporting for Austria, Malawi, Serbia, Slovakia, Somalia, Spain, and Switzerland. The former will respond to the lists of issues ahead of their interactive dialogue with the CAT, and the latter will submit their responses to be considered as their State report.
According to the Programme of Work, CAT will hold private meetings with civil society. Each scheduled meeting with NGOs corresponds to a single country under review. For example, on day one of the session, a private meeting is scheduled with NGOs on the reporting of Moldova.
Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture 33rd Session
The Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) will hold its 33rd Session from November 13 through 17 in Geneva, Switzerland. The SPT session information is confidential, but the SPT does publish annual reports on its activities. Its sessions generally provide its 25 members a chance to report on and discuss upcoming and recent activities related to specific countries, regions, and thematic priorities.
For more information on the SPT, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
Human Rights Council
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will hold its 28th Session from November 6 to 17, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. According the calendar for the 3rd cycle of the UPR, the States under review at the 28th Session are Czechia, Argentina, Gabon, Ghana, Peru, Guatemala, Benin, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Pakistan, Zambia, Japan, Ukraine, and Sri Lanka.
During the Session, a group of three Human Rights Council Member States (or troika) will facilitate the review of each country. Representatives from the country being reviewed will give an oral presentation followed by an interactive dialogue. The troika will then provide its comments and recommendations, which the reviewed country can accept or reject. A final outcome report will then be adopted, and the country will report on its implementation of the recommendations during the following UPR cycle.
The UPR is a peer review mechanism designed to assess and advance human rights in all UN Member States. The UPR Working Group of the Human Rights Council typically holds three sessions per year, although it will have held two in 2017, and comprises all 47 Council Member States. The UPR cycle lasts for a four-and-a-half-year period. For more information about past, present, and future UPR sessions, including timetables and lists of troikas, visit the UPR Sessions webpage and the UPR main webpage.
UN Special Procedures
In November, several UN special procedures activities will take place. There will be eight special rapporteurs and one group of experts who will conduct country visits and three working group sessions, which are private sessions held in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation will visit India from October 30 to November 10, 2017.
The Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children will visit Lao People’s Democratic Republic from November 8 to 16, 2017.
The Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment will visit Serbia from November 13 to 24, 2017.
The Special Rapporteur on the right to food will visit Viet Nam from November 13 to 24, 2017.
The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions will visit Iraq from November 14 to 23, 2017.
The Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children will visit Nigeria from November 27 to December 5, 2017.
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression will visit Mexico from November 27 to December 4, 2017.
The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is scheduled to visit Sudan from November 20 to 29, 2017.
The Working Group of experts on people of African descent will hold its 21st session in Geneva, Switzerland from November 20 to 24, 2017.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will hold its 80th session in Geneva, Switzerland from November 20 to 24, 2017.
The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right to peoples self-determination will hold its 32nd session in Geneva, Switzerland from November 27 to December 1, 2017.
The purpose of a country visit is for the mandate holder to assess the overall human rights situation in the State and the issues specific to their thematic focus. During the visit, the special rapporteur or working group expert will collect information from the government, non-governmental organizations, and national human rights institutions. This information will be compiled in a report, to be presented at later time before the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 166th Extraordinary Period of Sessions
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will hold its 166th Extraordinary Period of Sessions at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. from November 29 to December 7, 2017. The IACHR will hold hearings on matters related to the United States and Canada. The online system to submit requests for a hearing or meeting is currently closed. [IACHR Press Release] The schedule of hearings will be posted on the IACHR’s website.
The IACHR is a regional body in the Americas that promotes and protects human rights violations within the Member States of the Organization of American States. The IACHR regularly holds thematic and contentious hearings during its sessions. Both individuals and NGOs may submit requests for thematic hearings and submit complaints on alleged human rights violations.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights 120th Session
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will hold its 120th Session from November 13 to 24, 2017. During its sessions, the IACtHR typically holds public hearings on the merits of individual complaints and deliberates on contentious cases alleging human rights violations.
The IACtHR has jurisdiction over cases brought against a Member State of the Organization of American States that has accepted the Court’s jurisdiction as authorized by Article 62 of American Convention on Human Rights. There are 20 OAS members that have opted into the IACtHR’s contentious jurisdiction, which are Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Uruguay. The cases reviewed by the Court are always first processed by the Commission. The IACtHR also has authority to issue advisory opinions. For more information on the IACtHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights 61st Session
The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) will hold its 61st Session from November 1 to 15, 2017 in Banjul, the Gambia. According to the provisional agenda, the session will cover the human rights situation in Africa, various panel discussions, reports from the special mechanisms of the ACHPR, and the consideration of State periodic reports. The State reports under review are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, and Rwanda. The Commission will then issue concluding observations and make recommendations to ensure further compliance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
NGOs, individuals, and NHRIs are invited to attend and participate in the session. To participate, a NGO must have observer status with the ACHPR, and its submissions on State implementation of the African Charter should be submitted to the Commission at least 60 days prior to the Commission’s review.
The ACHPR is a regional body in Africa that generally holds two ordinary sessions per year, although it may also decide to hold additional extraordinary sessions. It reviews State compliance with the African Charter through its reporting procedure, assessment of individual complaints, fact-finding and promotional missions to States, and monitoring.
African Court on Human and People’s Rights
The African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR) will hold its 47th Session from November 13 to 24, 2017 in Arusha, Tanzania. During its sessions, the AfCHPR 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.
The AfCHPR is a regional human rights tribunal that has both advisory and contentious jurisdiction. Generally, the AfCHPR holds four ordinary sessions a year, but it may hold additional extraordinary sessions if the President of the Court calls for one. Individuals and non-governmental organizations with observer status before the ACHPR may bring cases directly to the AfCHPR if the relevant State has accepted the AfCHPR’s jurisdiction over individual complaints. As of April 2017, only eight States allow for the AfCHPR’s jurisdiction over individual complaints: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania, and Tunisia. Rwanda previously allowed for jurisdiction over individual complaints but subsequently withdrew its declaration accepting the jurisdiction. [AfCHPR Press Release] The AfCHPR may also hear cases on the merits referred by the ACHPR or brought by a State party to the Protocol to the African Charter on the Establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights against any of the 30 States that have accepted the jurisdiction of the Court.
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold three Grand Chamber hearings in the month of November.
On November 15, there will be a Grand Chamber hearing in the case of Nicolae Virgiliu Tanase v. Romania. After suffering serious injuries in a car accident, the complainant in this case alleges that the criminal investigation into the matter was ineffective in violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) under the European Convention on Human Rights. [ECtHR Press Release]
On November 22, 2017, there will be a Grand Chamber hearing in Berlusconi v. Italy. The applicant, Berlusconi, alleges violations under articles 7 (no punishment without law) and 13 (right to effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 (right to free elections) of the Convention after he was suspended from public office as punishment for a criminal conviction. [ECtHR Press Release]
Finally, on November 29, there will be a Grand Chamber hearing in Ilnseher v. Germany, which is a case involving a question of whether it was lawful to detain a convicted murderer as a preventative measure. The complainant alleges violations of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) and Article 7 (no punishment without law). [ECtHR Press Release]
The ECtHR is a regional human rights judicial body based in Strasbourg, France. The Court has jurisdiction over alleged human rights violations under the European Convention on Human Rights, which may be submitted by individuals and States against States parties to the Convention.
For more information on UN treaty bodies; the Human Rights Committee; the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; the Committee Against Torture; the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Universal Periodic Review; Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation; the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children; the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions; the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right to peoples self-determination; the Human Rights Council; UN special procedures; the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights; and the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, or for upcoming sessions and hearings, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.