October 2018: United Nations and Regional Human Rights Bodies in Session
In October, 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 the review of individual complaints. Four United Nations treaty bodies will meet to review States’ protection of the rights of children; economic, social, and cultural rights; civil and political rights; and the rights of women. Five UN rapporteurs and one UN independent expert will conduct country visits this month, and two UN working groups will hold sessions.
Regionally, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will be in session and will hold public hearings on a range of issues and countries. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear arguments in two cases, one on the right to not be tried twice for the same crime and one concerning the Norwegian courts’ assessment of a mother’s fitness to regain custody of her son. Additionally, the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will be in session to assess States’ implementation of the labor rights provisions of the European Social Charter.
The UN treaty body sessions, the public hearings of the European Court, and the public hearings of the IACHR may be watched via UN Web TV, the European Court’s website, and the Inter-American Commission’s website or Vimeo page, respectively. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.
UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies
Four of the 10 UN human rights treaty bodies will meet this month to review certain States parties’ implementation of their treaty obligations. They are the Committee on the Rights of the Child; Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Human Rights Committee; and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Through the State reporting procedure, treaty bodies review States’ reports and responses to a specific list of issues, receive additional information from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and national human rights institutions (NHRIs), engage in an interactive dialogue with each State’s representatives, and then adopt concluding observations detailing the progress and remaining challenges in the State’s implementation of the treaty. Through a simplified reporting procedure, treaty bodies may invite States to respond only to questions (list of issues) prepared by the treaty body, rather than submitting a comprehensive report and also responses to a subsequent list of issues.
Committee on the Rights of the Child
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will continue its 79th Session which began on September 17 and ends on October 5, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. The CRC will engage in interactive dialogues with El Salvador, Laos, Mauritania, and Niger to assess their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The CRC will also hold interactive dialogues with Benin, Niger, and Saudi Arabia 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, and with Benin and Saudi Arabia on their implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Civil Society organizations wishing to attend the session should have registered by September 28, 2018, through Indico. To view the session documents, including the tentative programme of work and information submitted by civil society, visit the 79th Session webpage.
After concluding its 79th Session, the CRC will hold its 81st Pre-Sessional Working Group from October 8 to October 12, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. The CRC will begin its review of the State reports of Botswana, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Malta, Poland, Singapore, and Tonga and hold private briefings on those countries. The CRC will also begin its review of Sri Lanka’s State report to assess its implementation of the OP-CRC-SC. To view relevant documents, including State party reports, visit the 81st Pre-Sessional Working Group webpage. For more information on the CRC, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) will continue its 64th Session which began on September 24 and ends on October 12, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. The CESCR will hold interactive dialogues with Argentina, Cabo Verde, Germany, Mali, South Africa, and Turkmenistan concerning their implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). During the remainder of the session, the Committee will hold closed discussions. According to the information note for civil society and NHRIs, all written submissions should have been submitted to the Secretariat of the Committee at least three weeks before the beginning of the session. NGOs and civil society organizations wishing to attend the session should have registered for this event by September 25, 2018 through Indico. To view session documents, including the programme of work, State reports, and civil society’s alternative reports, visit the 64th Session webpage.
This month, the CESCR will also hold its 63rd Pre-Sessional Working Group from October 15 to October 19, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. The CESCR will begin its review of the State reports of Denmark and Switzerland. The Committee will also begin its review of the State reports of Belarus, Belgium, Norway, and Ukraine under their simplified reporting procedure. The Committee will hold private meetings on those countries and adopt concluding observations for each State. Civil society wishing to participate in the Working Group’s meetings should register by October 12, 2018 through Indico. To view documents for the CESCR’s 63rd Pre-Sessional Working Group, including the programme of work and information note for civil society and NHRIs, visit the 63rd Pre-Sessional Working Group webpage. For more information on the CESCR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
Human Rights Committee
The Human Rights Committee will hold its 124th Session from October 8 to November 2, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the proposed programme of work and provisional agenda, the Human Rights Committee will hold interactive dialogues with Belarus, Belize, Bulgaria, Guinea, and Sudan to assess their implementation of the implementation of the States’ obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Human Rights Committee will also hold interactive dialogues, in absence of a State report, with Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to assess their country situations. Additionally, the Human Rights Committee’s task forces will consider and adopt lists of issues for Mauritania and Tajikistan ahead of their interactive dialogue, and a list of issues for Trinidad and Tobago to address in its simplified reporting process. In closed sessions, the Committee will also consider individual complaints that allege violations of the ICCPR.
According to the information note for NGOs, civil society members wishing to attend the Human Rights Committee’s session must have registered through Indico by September 28, 2018, and must have submitted information about States parties under review during this session by September 10, 2018.
To view the session documents, including State reports, alternative reports from civil society, and information for NGOs, visit the 124th Session webpage. For more information on the Human Rights Committee, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) will hold its 71st Session from October 22 to November 11, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the proposed programme of work and the provisional agenda, the CEDAW Committee will engage in interactive dialogues with the Bahamas, Congo, Laos, Mauritius, Nepal, Samoa, Tajikistan, and Macedonia to assess their compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
According to the information note for NGOs and the information note for NHRIs, written submissions must be sent by October 1, 2018 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Civil society members wishing to attend the Committee’s session must register online by November 16, 2018 through the Indico system. To view the session documents, including State reports, visit the 71st Session webpage. For more information on the CEDAW Committee, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
Various independent human rights experts and monitoring bodies, known as UN “special procedures,” have country visits or sessions scheduled for the month of October. Five special rapporteurs and one independent expert will carry out country visits, and two working groups will be in session in Geneva, Switzerland.
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 is scheduled to visit Egypt from September 24 to October 3, 2018.
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants is scheduled to visit Niger from October 1 to October 18, 2018.
The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences is scheduled to visit Italy from October 3 to October 12, 2018.
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression is scheduled to visit Ecuador from October 5 to October 11, 2018.
The Special Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers is scheduled to visit Morocco from October 24 to November 1, 2018.
The Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity is scheduled to visit Georgia from September 25 to October 5, 2018.
The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will hold its 21st Session from October 1 to October 5, 2018.
The Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice will hold its 23rd Session from October 22 to October 26, 2018.
During their country visits, these special procedures mandate holders 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. 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.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold its 169th Period of Sessions from September 30 to October 5, 2018, in Boulder, Colorado, in the United States. During the session, it will hold public hearings on a broad range of human rights concerns in the region, including in 14 countries. The schedule of hearings is available on the IACHR’s website. For more information on the IACHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
European Committee of Social Rights
The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will hold its 302nd Session from October 15 to 18, 2018 in Strasbourg, France. The agenda and the synopsis for this session will be published on the ECSR’s calendar at a later date. During its sessions, the ECSR reviews States’ reports on their implementation of the European Social Charter, considers collective complaints alleging violations of the Charter, and follows up on the Turin process to improve implementation of the Charter at the continental level.
According to the ECSR’s calendar for national reporting, the ECSR 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. 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
On October 3, 2018, the ECtHR Grand Chamber will hold a hearing in the case of Mihalache v. Romania. See ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings. In this case, the applicant alleges that Romania violated the prohibition on being convicted twice for the same crime under Article 4 of Protocol No. 7 to the European Convention of Human Rights. [ECtHR Press Release: Mihalache] The applicant was arrested and later ordered to pay an administrative fine for refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test after being pulled over on the road. After paying that fine, a different prosecutor re-initiated criminal proceedings, which resulted in his conviction and one-year jail sentence. [ECtHR Press Release: Mihalache] On March 27, 2018, a Chamber of the ECtHR relinquished the case to the Grand Chamber without issuing a judgment. [ECtHR Press Release: Mihalache]
On October 17, 2018, the ECtHR Grand Chamber will hold a hearing in the case of Strand Lobben and Others v. Norway. See ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings. This case concerns whether Norway violated the right to respect for private and family life by removing the applicant’s child from her custody and by placing the child with a foster family, which subsequently adopted the child. [ECtHR Press Release: Strand Lobben] In the Chamber judgment, issued on November 30, 2017, the ECtHR held that there was no violation because the State had demonstrated adequately exceptional circumstances surrounding the applicant’s fitness to justify severing parental ties in light of the child’s best interests. [ECtHR Press Release: Strand Lobben] On April 9, 2018, a Grand Chamber Panel granted the applicants’ request to review the case before the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR. [ECtHR Press Release: Strand Lobben]