February 2018: United Nations and Regional Human Rights Bodies in Session
In February 2018, several universal and regional human rights bodies and experts will assess States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through the consideration of State and civil society reports, country visits, interactive dialogues, and hearings on individual complaints. Four United Nations treaty bodies will be holding sessions throughout February on issues related to children’s rights, prevention of torture, the rights of persons with disabilities, and the rights of women. The UN Human Rights Council and several of its working groups will also be in session to review communications as well as thematic and country-specific reports. Two UN special rapporteurs will carry out country visits, and two special procedures working groups will hold private sessions on the topics of forced disappearances, and business and human rights.
Regionally, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will be in session, and will hold public hearings during those sessions. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear arguments in one case on the alleged violation of due process rights during domestic criminal proceedings, including the right to a fair trial, the right to adequate preparation of a defense, and the right to examine a witness.
The UN treaty body sessions and the public hearings of the European Court, Inter-American Commission, and Inter-American Court may be watched via UN Web TV, the European Court’s website, the Inter-American Commission’s website, and Vimeo, respectively. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.
Committee on the Rights of the Child 77th Session and 79th Pre-sessional Working Group
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will continue its 77th Session, which started on January 15 and will go through February 2, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the proposed programme of work, the CRC conducted interactive dialogues with Guatemala, Marshall Islands, Palau, Panama, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Spain, and Sri Lanka concerning their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. After considering each of those State’s reports on their implementation of the Convention and information from civil society on the same topic, the Committee will issue concluding observations on each State, noting challenges and developments to States’ implementation of the Convention.
Civil society organizations wishing to attend the Session must register by February 2 through the Indico system. The information note on accreditation states that it may take two business days to process a request.
To view session documents, including information submitted by civil society, visit the 77th Session webpage.
79th Pre-sessional Working Group
The CRC will hold its 79th Pre-Sessional Working Group from February 5 to February 9, 2018. According to the session webpage, the CRC will consider State reports from El Salvador, Japan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mauritania, and Niger concerning their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The CRC will also consider State reports from Benin, Niger, and Saudi Arabia concerning their implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The CRC will review the State reports from Benin and Saudi Arabia concerning their implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. 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 report at a later session.
To view session documents, including State party reports, visit the 79th Pre-Sessional Working Group webpage.
The CRC monitors the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. For more information on the Committee on the Rights of the Child, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture 34th Session
The Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) will hold its 34th Session from February 12 to 16, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland, according to the calendar of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The SPT session information is confidential, but the SPT publishes annual reports on its activities. Its sessions generally provide its 25 members—an independent group of experts—a chance to report on and discuss upcoming and recent activities related to specific States, regions, and thematic priorities.
For more information on the SPT, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 19th Session
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) will hold its 19th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from February 14 to March 3, 2018. According to the proposed programme of work, the CRPD will hold interactive dialogues with Haiti, Nepal, Oman, Russian Federation, Seychelles, Slovenia, and Sudan to assess their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ICRPD). After reviewing the States’ reports and civil society alternative reports on State implementation, the CRPD will issue concluding observations for each State, noting challenges to and positive developments in implementing the Convention. Furthermore, the CRPD will consider and adopt lists of issues prior to reporting for Costa Rica, New Zealand, Paraguay, and the Republic of Korea.
According to the information note for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), any civil society organizations wishing to participate must register for the session by March 9, 2018 through the session’s page on the Indico system. The information note on accreditation states that it may take two business days to process a request.
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women 69th Session
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) will hold its 69th Session from February 19 to March 3, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the programme of work and the session agenda, in February the Committee will review State reports from Chile, Fiji, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Suriname. In March, the CEDAW Committee will review the State reports of Luxembourg (under the simplified reporting procedure) and Marshall Islands. The CEDAW Committee will review answers to lists of questions from Luxembourg as its State report, as called for under the simplified reporting procedure. After reviewing State reports and alternative reports from civil society on the States under review, the CEDAW Committee will discuss any follow-up matters and issue concluding observations on each State 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 submissions or oral statements. Written submissions should be sent by January 29, 2018 to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the requirements listed in the note on participation by NGOs.
The session provides 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 two 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 during the public webcast at http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.
Human Rights Council 37th Session, Working Group on Situations 21st Session, Working Group on Communications 22nd Session, Advisory Committee 20th Session
The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold its 37th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from February 26 to March 23, 2018. According to the agenda and the list of reports for the session, the Human Rights Council will receive the annual, and other, reports from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner’s office, and the UN Secretary General; final outcome reports from the Universal Periodic Review Working Group on specific States for the Council to adopt; and reports from UN special procedures mandate holders.
The Human Rights Council will select from a proposed list candidates to fill the UN special procedures mandates of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali; Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order; Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination. Additionally, the Human Rights Council will select two independent experts to join the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
During the session, the Council will also convene several panel discussions on the challenges and opportunities of promoting and protecting human rights through the Universal Periodic Review mechanism; the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 25th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action; protecting the rights of the child in humanitarian situations; Article 13 of the ICRPD on access to justice; the human rights of children in Syria; and the promotion of tolerance, inclusion, unity, and respect for diversity while combating racial discrimination.
Only NGOs in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) can be accredited to participate in the Human Rights Council’s sessions as observers. NGOs accredited as observers may attend and observe the Council’s proceedings that are open to NGOs; submit written statements; make oral interventions; participate in debates, dialogues, and discussions; and engage in side events. For more information on accreditation and participation in the Human Rights Council’s sessions, visit its page on NGO participation.
Relevant documents and other information, including the reports considered during the session, submissions from civil society, and the Council’s programme of work and final agenda, will be available on the Human Rights Council’s 37th Session webpage prior to the session.
The Human Rights Council holds at least three regular sessions per year and may hold additional special sessions to address urgent human rights violations if one third of the Member States request it. The Council is an inter-governmental body of the United Nations, composed of 47 UN Member States that are elected by the UN General Assembly. The Human Rights Council is responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights and is tasked with addressing human rights violations and making recommendations. Its mandate covers all human rights issues. Among the mechanisms that facilitate the Human Rights Council’s mandate are the Universal Periodic Review, the Advisory Committee, and the Complaint Procedure.
Human Rights Council Working Group on Situations 21st Session
The Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Situations will continue to hold its 21st Session from January 29 to February 2, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Working Group on Situations meets twice a year to examine the communications that have been transferred to it by the Working Group on Communications, and to examine the situations before the Council. During its sessions, the Working Group may decide to dismiss a communication, to continue to review a communication and request additional information from the State concerned, or to transmit a case to the Human Rights Council for further consideration. The Working Group is tasked with identifying patterns in communications regarding persistent human rights violations and making recommendations to the Human Rights Council based on its observations. The Working Group on Situations comprises five members, who are appointed by groups of Member States of the Human Rights Council, determined by region.
Human Rights Council Working Group on Communications 22nd Session
The Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Communications will hold its 22nd Session from February 12 to 16, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Working Group meets twice a year to review communications. The Working Group may decide to dismiss a communication, request the State concerned to provide additional information, or transfer admissible communications to the Working Group on Situations. The Working Group on Communications comprises five independent experts who are members of the Advisory Committee and represent different geographical regions.
Human Rights Council 20th Session of the Advisory Committee
The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee will hold its 20th Session from February 19 to 23, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the provisional agenda, the Advisory Committee will elect officers from among its members to serve as a Chair and on its Bureau, and will consider requests addressed to it that stem from Human Rights Council resolutions. The requests under consideration include the integration of a gender perspective to its studies, the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, the integration of the perspective of persons with disabilities in its work, preparation of a report on the regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights, the preparation of a report on the activities of vulture funds and their impact on human rights, the preparation of a report on the negative effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights, the study of the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin on the enjoyment of human rights, the study of the contribution of development to the enjoyment of all human rights, and the preparation of a study on implementing the 2030 Agenda into national policies. The session will culminate in a report on the Advisory Committee’s activities during the 20th Session, which the Human Rights Council will review at a later session.
The Advisory Committee is an 18-member body of independent experts representing various world regions that supports the work of the Human Rights Council by providing studies and research-based advice to the Human Rights Council. Established in 2008 pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, the Committee meets two times per year for a maximum of ten working days per year. The members of the Advisory Committee are nominated and elected based on their recognized competence and experience in the field of human rights, their high moral standing, and their independence and impartiality. See Resolution 5/1, para. 67. The Advisory Committee’s membership also follows geographic representation guidelines.
UN Special Procedures
Various UN special procedures have country visits or sessions scheduled for the month of February. Two special rapporteurs will carry out country visits, and two working groups will hold private sessions in Brussels, Belgium and Geneva, Switzerland, respectively.
The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions will continue their country visit to El Salvador, which started January 25, 2018 and is scheduled through February 5, 2018.
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants will continue their country visit to Nepal, which began on January 29, 2018 and is scheduled through February 5, 2018.
The Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances will hold its 114th Session from February 5 to 9, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. According to the Working Group’s webpage, the 114th Session is private.
The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will hold its 19th Session from February 5 to 9, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the Working Group’s webpage, the 19th Session is private.
During their country visits, these independent experts will assess both the overall human rights situation in the country and the 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 UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. See OHCHR, Country and other visits of Special Procedures.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights 121st Session
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will continue to hold its 121st Session from January 29 to February 9, 2018 in San Jose, Costa Rica. During its session, the IACtHR is scheduled to hold public hearings on four individual complaints.
On January 30 to 31, 2018, the IACtHR will hold public hearings on the case of Isaza Uribe et al v. Colombia. The case involves the forced disappearance of Victor Manuel Isaza Uribe in 1987 when he was allegedly detained in prison, and whose whereabouts are still unknown. In its merits report on the case, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) found that Colombia violated the rights to recognition of juridical personality, life, humane treatment, liberty, freedom of association, fair trial, and judicial protection under the American Convention on Human Rights. The IACHR submitted the case to the IACtHR on April 3, 2016 due to its finding that Colombia has not complied with its recommendations.
On February 2, 2018, the IACtHR will hold a public hearing to monitor compliance with its judgments in the cases of Barrios Altos v. Peru, La Cantuta v. Peru, and Durand and Ugarte v. Peru. The hearing will seek an update on whether the State has complied with the Court’s reparation orders in Barrios Altos, La Cantuta, and Durand and Ugarte. The IACtHR will also request information from the State and the victims’ representatives about the December 24, 2017 Supreme Resolution granting a pardon to former President Alberto Fujimori. The IACHR will be present at the hearing to present its opinions and observation. [IACtHR Press Release (Spanish only)]
On February 6, 2018, the IACtHR will hold a public hearing on the case of Lopez Soto et al. v. Venezuela. The hearing will address Venezuela’s alleged international responsibility for acts of violence against women, including rape, committed by non-State actors. The Court will also address the State’s duty to prevent violence against women in light of the State’s alleged refusal to receive a report of the victim’s disappearance. The facts alleged indicate that despite the victim’s sister’s efforts to alert authorities of her sister’s disappearance, the State failed to take appropriate and timely measures to investigate. The IACHR found in its merits report that the State’s failure to act constituted a breach of its international human rights obligations, including the prohibition against torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and the rights to judicial guarantees and judicial protections. The IACHR submitted the case to the Court on November 2, 2016 because it found that the State had not complied with its recommendations in the merits report.
Finally, on February 9, 2018, the IACtHR will hold a public hearing on the case of Coc Max et al. v. Guatemala. The case concerns Guatemala’s alleged failure to independently investigate the deaths and injuries of indigenous persons who were affected by massacres committed by the Guatemalan Armed Forces in 1995. Regarding the investigations carried out, it is alleged that while the case was under the military criminal jurisdiction, the State had a duty to independently and impartially investigate the claims. In its merits report, the IACHR found that Guatemala violated the rights to life, humane treatment, fair trial, protection afforded to minors, equal protection before the law, and judicial protection under the American Convention. The IACHR submitted the case to the Court on September 21, 2016 after it found that the State had not complied with its recommendations.
The IACtHR has jurisdiction over cases brought against a Member State of the Organization of American States (OAS) that has accepted the Court’s jurisdiction as authorized by Article 62 of the American Convention on Human Rights. There are 20 OAS Member States 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 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The IACtHR also has authority to issue advisory opinions. For more information on the IACtHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 167th Extraordinary Period of Sessions
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is scheduled to hold its 167th Extraordinary Session in Bogotá, Colombia from February 22 to March 2, 2018. The IACHR will hold thematic and contentious hearings on matters involving any Member State of the Organization of American States except Colombia. The online system to submit requests for a hearing or meeting is currently closed. 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. Both individuals and NGOs may submit requests for thematic hearings and submit complaints on alleged human rights violations to the IACHR.
European Court of Human Rights
On February 14, 2018, the Grand Chamber will hold a hearing in the case of Murtazaliyeva v. Russia. The applicant in this case alleges a violation of Article 6 subparts (1), (3)(b), and (3)(d) (right to a fair trial, right to adequate time and facilities for preparation of defense, right to obtain attendance and examination of witnesses) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The applicant asserts that she was not able to adequately assess video evidence used against her in a domestic criminal proceeding due to not being able to see the screen on which it was played, and that the domestic court’s refusal to call a witness affected the overall fairness of the trial. [ECtHR Press Release] A chamber of the European Court found that there had been no violation under Article 6 as the applicant had not brought her inability to see the evidence to the attention of the domestic court and as the applicant’s lawyers had not presented to the domestic court any reason for why the witness should be called. [ECtHR Press Release] The Grand Chamber Panel accepted the referral of the case to the Grand Chamber on September 18, 2017. [ECtHR Press Release]
The ECtHR is a regional human rights judicial body based in Strasbourg, France. The Court has jurisdiction to decide complaints that allege violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and are submitted by individuals, or States, against States parties to the European Convention.
For more information on UN treaty bodies; the Committee on the Rights of the Child; the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; the Human Rights Council; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances; the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises; UN special procedures; the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; or the European Court of Human Rights, or for a calendar of upcoming sessions and hearings, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.