May 2018: UN Treaty Bodies, UPR, and Regional Human Rights Bodies in Session

Human Rights Council 
Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

In the month of May, several universal and regional bodies will be in session to assess States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through interactive dialogues, the consideration of State and civil society reports, country visits, and the review of individual complaints. Four United Nations treaty bodies will meet throughout May to engage with States regarding their treaty obligations related to torture, racial discrimination, forced disappearances, and children’s rights. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will also be in session and will conduct interactive dialogues with representatives from 14 States. Ten UN special procedures will conduct country visits focusing on human rights defenders, contemporary forms of racism, indigenous peoples, sale and sexual exploitation of children, effects of foreign debt, countering terrorism, housing, migrants, health, and torture. Three working groups will hold sessions on enforced disappearances, transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and private military and security companies.

Regionally, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR), and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) will be in session. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will also be in session, and will hold public hearings during those sessions. Finally, the European Committee of Social Rights will be in session, and the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear one case related to State obligations during an armed conflict.

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

Committee Against Torture 63rd Session

The Committee Against Torture (CAT) will continue its 63rd Session in Geneva, Switzerland. The session started on April 23 and will end on May 18, 2018. According to the programme of work and the provisional agenda, in April the CAT reviewed State reports from Belarus, Norway, and Senegal. In May, the CAT will review State reports from the Czech Republic, Qatar, and Tajikistan. After considering the 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 prior to reporting for Andorra, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Jordan, Liechtenstein, and Thailand. These States’ responses to the lists of issues prior to reporting constitute their State report to the CAT under the simplified reporting procedure.

According to the programme of work, the CAT will hold private meetings with civil society. Each scheduled meeting with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) corresponds to a single country under review. Civil society members wishing to attend the Committee’s session must register for accreditation through the Indico system by May 18, 2018.

To view the session documents, including State reports, visit the 63rd Session webpage. For more information on the CAT, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 95th Session

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will continue its 95th Session in Geneva, Switzerland. The session started on April 23 and will end on May 11, 2018. According to the provisional agenda and programme of work, in April the CERD reviewed Nepal, Peru, and Saudi Arabia. The CERD will review the State reports of Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, and Sweden in May. After reviewing the States’ reports and civil society alternative reports, the CERD will issue concluding observations at a later date, noting challenges to and positive developments in implementing the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The CERD will also adopt a list of issues prior to reporting for Botswana under the simplified reporting procedure. The simplified reporting procedure allows States to use answers to lists of issues to fulfill their reporting requirement.

According to the NGO Information Note, civil society submissions, including alternative reports, should have been submitted by March 30, 2018 for this session. Additionally, to attend the session, civil society members should have registered through the session’s page on the Indico system by March 30, 2018. NGOs may attend the sessions with delegations, but may not make statements during sessions with States under review. NGOs may organize informal meetings to present to Committee members. National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) not accredited by the Human Rights Council may also attend but not speak at the sessions; they too may hold informal meetings with Committee members.

To view the session documents, including State reports, visit the 95th Session webpage. For more information on the CERD, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Committee on Enforced Disappearances 14th Session

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) will hold its 14th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from May 22 through June 1, 2018. The CED will review the State reports of Albania, Austria, and Honduras to assess their implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED). After reviewing the States’ reports and civil society alternative reports, the CED will at a later date issue concluding observations, noting challenges to and positive developments in implementing the Convention. Furthermore, the CED will consider and adopt lists of issues for Japan and Portugal.

According to the NGO Information Note, civil society submissions, including alternative reports, should have been submitted by April 27, 2018. To attend the session, civil society members should register online through the Indico system by May 17, 2018. NGOs may attend the sessions with State delegations, but may not make statements during sessions with States under review. NGOs may organize informal meetings to present to Committee members. National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) not accredited by the Human Rights Council may also attend but not speak at the sessions; they too may hold informal meetings with Committee members. Civil society representatives that wish to confirm attendance at a closed meeting or an informal meeting should contact the CED Secretariat by May 8, 2018, at mgbianchi@ohchr.org and ced@ohchr.org.

To view the session documents, including the programme of work, State party reports, and information from civil society, visit the 14th Session webpage. For more information on the CED, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Committee on the Rights of the Child 78th Session

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will hold its 78th Session from May 14 to June 1, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. The CRC will review the State reports of Angola, Argentina, Lesotho, Montenegro, and Norway to assess their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The CRC will review State reports from Angola and Russia to assess their compliance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Additionally, the CRC will review State reports from Algeria and Angola to assess their implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. After reviewing the States’ reports and civil society’s alternative reports, the CRC will issue at a later date concluding observations, noting challenges to and positive developments in implementation of the Convention and its Optional Protocols.

Civil Society organizations wishing to attend the session must register online by June 1, 2018, through the Indico system. The 78th Session webpage lists the photo requirements for registration.

To view the session documents, including information submitted by civil society, visit the 78th Session webpage. For more information on the CRC, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review Working Group 30th Session

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will hold its 30th Session from May 7 to 18, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. According the calendar for the 3rd cycle of the UPR, the States under review at the 30th Session are Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Germany, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, and Uzbekistan.

During the session, a group of three Human Rights Council Member States (or troika) will facilitate the review of each State. Representatives from the State being reviewed will give an oral presentation, which will be followed by an interactive dialogue with UN Member States. The troika will then provide its comments and recommendations, which the State being reviewed can accept or reject. A final outcome report will then be adopted, and the State 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, 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, or visit IJRC’s website.

Special Procedures

Various UN special procedures have activities scheduled for May. Nine special rapporteurs and one independent expert will carry out country visits this month. Two working groups will hold private sessions, and one working group will hold sessions that are open to all UN Member and Observer States, and to inter-governmental organizations and NGOs with consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders will continue its visit to Honduras, which began on April 29 and ends May 12, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance will continue its visit to the United Kingdom, which began on April 30 and ends on May 11, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples will visit Guatemala from May 1 to May 10, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children will visit Ireland from May 14 to May 21, 2018.

The Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights will visit Ukraine from May 14 to May 23, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism will visit France from May 14 to May 23, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context will visit the Republic of Korea from May 14 to May 23, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants will visit Mali from May 21 to May 29, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health will visit Kyrgyzstan from May 22 to May 31, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism will visit Belgium from May 24 to May 31, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment will visit Ukraine from May 28 to June 9, 2018.

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will continue its 115th Session, which started on April 23 and ends on May 2, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will hold its 20th Session from May 14 to May 18, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Working Group on the regulatory framework of activities of private military and security companies will hold its 6th Session from May 22 to May 24, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the Working Group sessions webpage, the Working Group is open-ended and therefore, open to all UN Member and Observer States, and to inter-governmental organization and NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status.

During their country visits, these independent experts will assess both the overall human rights situation in the country and issues specific to their thematic focus. Experts will also meet with civil society, State officials, 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.

For more information on each special procedure, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 62nd Ordinary Session

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) will continue its 62nd Ordinary Session in Banjul, The Gambia. The session started on April 25 and will end on May 9, 2018. The session has covered the human rights situation in Africa, various panel discussions, reports from the special mechanisms of the ACHPR, and the consideration of State periodic reports. During the remainder of the session, the Commission will review State reports from Angola, Eritrea, Nigeria, and Togo. After reviewing those States’ reports, the Commission will issue concluding observations and make recommendations to ensure further compliance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Additionally, the special mechanisms, the Chairperson of the Commission, and other Commissioners will present activity reports.

NGOs, individuals, and NHRIs are invited to attend and participate in the session. NGOs wishing to participate must have observer status with the ACHPR and should have submitted the Preliminary Registration Form to the ACHPR Secretariat by April 10, 2018.

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.

To view the agendainvitation to NGOsinvitation to NHRIs, and information for participants, visit the session’s website. For more information on the ACHPR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights 49th Ordinary Session

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will continue its 49th Session in Arusha, Tanzania. The session began on April 16 and will end on May 11, 2018. 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, eight States allow for the AfCHPR’s jurisdiction over individual complaints: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania, and Tunisia. See IJRC, African Human Rights System. Rwanda previously allowed for jurisdiction over individual complaints but subsequently withdrew its declaration that accepted the jurisdiction. [AfCHPR Press Release] The AfCHPR may also hear cases on the merits that are 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.

For more information on the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rightsvisit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 31st Session

The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) will hold its 31st Session from April 23 to May 4, 2018 in Bamako, Mali. The ACERWC will review State party reports from Burkina Faso, Burundi, Malawi, and Niger. The ACERWC will also consider supplemental reports from civil society from Mauritania, Niger, and Zambia. During the session, the ACERWC will launch the ACHPR-ACERWC Joint Comment on Ending Child Marriage. Further, several decisions on complaints and communications will be finalized during the session.

The ACERWC monitors State party compliance with the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and issues decisions on complaints and communications.

For more information on the African Human Rights System, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 168th Session

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is scheduled to hold its 168th Period of Sessions in the Dominican Republic from May 3 to May 11, 2018. The IACHR will hold thematic and contentious hearings on matters involving any Member State of the Organization of American States except the Dominican Republic. The online system to submit requests for a hearing or meeting is currently closed. The schedule of hearings is available 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.

For more information on the IACHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights 124th Session

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will hold its 124th Session from May 21 to June 1, 2018 in San Jose, Costa Rica. 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 (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 contentious 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.

European Committee of Social Rights 299th Session

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) of the Council of Europe will hold its 299th Session from May 14 to May 17, 2018 in Strasbourg, France. The agenda and synopsis of the meeting will be published on the European Committee of Social Right’s calendar.

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, it will consider State reports concerning the Charter’s labor rights from the Netherlands, Sweden, Croatia, Norway, Slovenia, Cyprus, and the Czech Republic throughout the 2018 calendar year. The ECSR will consider simplified reports on the same topic from France, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, and Finland throughout the 2018 calendar year. Simplified reports focus on areas of non-conformity identified in the Committee’s previous conclusions. 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. Fifteen States have accepted the jurisdiction of the collective complaints procedure. See IJRC, European Committee of Social Rights.

For more information on the European Committee of Social Rights, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold one Grand Chamber hearing this month.

On May 23, 2018, the ECtHR will hold a Grand Chamber hearing in the case of Georgia v. Russia (II)See ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings. The applicant in this case, the government of Georgia, alleges that Russia committed various human rights violations against civilians during the course of the armed conflict that began in August 2008 between Georgia and Russia. See ECtHR, Georgia v. Russia (II), no. 38263/08, Judgment of 13 December 2011. Specifically, Georgia alleges violations under articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment), 5 (right to liberty and security), 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention, under articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property and right to education), and under Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 (freedom of movement). [ECtHR Press Release] The Court found the application admissible, without ruling on the merits, in December 2011 and relinquished to the Grand Chamber on April 3, 2012. [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 the European Court, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Additional Information

For more information on UN treaty bodies; the Committee Against Torture; the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; the Committee on Migrant Workers; the Committee on Enforced Disappearances; the Committee on the Rights of the Child; the UN Human Rights Council; the Universal Periodic Review; Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples; Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism; Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context; Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights; Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances; Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises; the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the African System; the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; the European Committee of Social Rights; European Court of Human Rights; or for upcoming sessions and hearings, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

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