November 2018: United Nations and Regional Human Rights Bodies in Session

Human Rights Council Tenth Session Participants
Credit: UN Photo/Pierre-Michel Virot

In November, 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, and the review of individual complaints. Five United Nations treaty bodies will meet to review States’ progress with regard to civil and political rights, women’s rights, enforced disappearances, torture, and racial discrimination. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will also be in session and will conduct interactive dialogues with representatives from 14 States. Eleven UN special procedures will conduct country visits this month, and two UN working groups will hold sessions.

Regionally, the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR), the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Children (ACERWC), and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will be holding public sessions. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hear arguments in three cases.

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 African Court’s YouTube channel, the European Court’s website, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ 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

Five 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 Human Rights Committee, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Committee on Enforced Disappearances, Committee Against Torture, and Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Through the State reporting procedure, these 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. Additionally, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture will meet privately to advance its work.

Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee will continue its 124th Session in Geneva, Switzerland. The session began on October 8 and will end on November 2, 2018. According to the proposed programme of work and provisional agenda, in October the Human Rights Committee held interactive dialogues with Belarus, Belize, Bulgaria, Guinea, and Sudan to assess their implementation of the States’ obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Human Rights Committee also held 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 considered and adopted 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 November, the Committee will also consider individual complaints that allege violations of the ICCPR. The Committee will conclude the session with a press conference and a public discussion of the Human Rights Committee’s methods of work.

According to the information note for NGOs, civil society members wishing to attend the Human Rights Committee’s session must have registered through the Indico system 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 continue its 71st Session, which started on October 22 and concludes on November 11, 2018, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the proposed programme of work and the provisional agenda, in October the CEDAW Committee engaged in interactive dialogues with Nepal, Congo, the Bahamas, Samoa, Mauritius, and Tajikistan to assess their compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In November, the CEDAW Committee will engage in interactive dialogues with Macedonia and Laos.

According to the information note for NGOs and the information note for NHRIs, written submissions must have been sent by October 1, 2018 to cedaw@ohchr.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.

After concluding its 71st Session, the CEDAW Committee will hold its 73rd Pre-Sessional Working Group from November 12 to November 16, 2018, in Geneva, Switzerland. The Working Group will begin its review of State reports from Austria, Bahrain, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, the Congo, Guyana, Mozambique, and Qatar. The Committee will also begin its review of the State reports of the Dominican Republic, Mongolia, and Panama under their simplified reporting procedure. Civil society organizations wishing to attend must register for accreditation by November 16 through the Indico system. For more information on the CEDAW Committee, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Committee on Enforced Disappearances

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) will hold its 15th Session from November 5 to November 16, 2018, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the proposed programme of work and the provisional agenda, the CED will conduct interactive dialogues with Japan and Portugal, and a follow-up interactive dialogue with Mexico to assess these States’ compliance with the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED). The CED will also examine and adopt lists of issues for Chile, Italy, and Peru ahead of those States’ interactive dialogues.

According to the information note for NGOs and the information note for NHRIs, written submissions must have been sent by October 22, 2018 to ced@ohchr.org. Civil society members wishing to attend the Committee’s session must register online by November 1, 2018 through the Indico system. To view the session documents, including State reports, visit the 15th Session webpage. For more information on the CED, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Committee Against Torture

The Committee Against Torture (CAT) will hold its 65th Session from November 12 to December 7, 2018, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the proposed programme of work and the provisional agenda, the CAT will conduct interactive dialogues with Canada, Guatemala, the Maldives, the Netherlands, Peru, and Vietnam regarding their compliance with the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture). It will consider and adopt a list of issues for Benin and South Africa ahead of those States’ interactive dialogue, and lists of issues for France, Israel, Philippines, and Turkey to address in their State reports.

Civil society members wishing to attend the Committee’s session must register through the Indico system by December 7, 2018. According to information for NGOs and NHRIs on the CAT’s website, written submissions must have been sent by October 15, 2018 to cat@ohchr.org. To view the session documents, including State reports, visit the 65th Session webpage. For more information on the CAT, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture

The Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) will hold its 36th Session from November 19 to November 23, 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 Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will hold its 97th Session from November 26 to December 14, 2018, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the proposed programme of work and the provisional agenda, the CERD will hold interactive dialogues with Albania, Honduras, Iraq, Norway, Qatar, and the Republic of Korea with respect to their compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

According to the information note for NGOs and the information note for NHRIs, written submissions must be sent by November 5, 2018 to cerd@ohchr.org. Civil society members wishing to attend the Committee’s session must register online by November 22, 2018 through the Indico system. To view the session documents, including State reports, visit the 97th Session webpage. For more information on the CERD, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review Working Group

The Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) will hold its 31st Session from November 5 to November 16, 2018, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to its tentative timetable, the Working Group will hold interactive dialogues with Saudi Arabia, Senegal, China, Nigeria, Mexico, Mauritius, Jordan, Malaysia, the Central African Republic, Monaco, Belize, Chad, Congo, and Malta regarding their obligations under the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights instruments to which the State is party, the State’s voluntary pledges and commitments, and applicable international humanitarian law.

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, which is followed by an interactive dialogue with UN Member States. The States make recommendations and comments, which the troika summarizes in a report, and the reviewed country can accept or reject the recommendations and comments. A final outcome report will then be adopted, and the country will report on its implementation of the recommendations during the following UPR cycle.

NGOs and NHRIs can obtain additional information by emailing civilsociety@ohchr.org or nhri@ohchr.org, respectively. 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 Online Resource Hub.

Special Procedures

Various UN special procedures have activities scheduled for November. Nine special rapporteurs and two independent experts will carry out country visits this month, while two working groups will hold private sessions in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy is scheduled to visit Germany from October 29 to November 8, 2018.

The Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity is scheduled to visit the Netherlands from November 4 to November 13, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is scheduled to visit Canada from November 5 to November 16, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights is scheduled to visit the United Kingdom from November 6 to November 16, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association is scheduled to visit Armenia from November 7 to November 16, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on the right to development is scheduled to visit Cape Verde from November 12 to November 21, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation is scheduled to visit Malaysia from November 14 to November 27, 2018.

The Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons is scheduled to visit Uruguay from November 19 to November 30, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences is scheduled to visit Nepal from November 19 to November 29, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples is scheduled to visit Ecuador from November 19 to November 29, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities is scheduled to visit Kuwait from November 27 to December 6, 2018.

The Working Group on arbitrary detention will hold its 83rd Session in Geneva, Switzerland, from November 19 to November 23, 2018.

The 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 will hold its 35th Session in Geneva, Switzerland, from November 26 to November 30, 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.

Regional Bodies

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) will continue its 63rd Ordinary Session which began on October 24 and will end on November 13, 2018, in Banjul, The Gambia. According to the draft agenda, 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 reports from Angola, Botswana, and Togo. During the remainder of the session, the Commission will continue its consideration of Togo’s periodic report. Additionally, the special mechanisms, the Chairperson of the Commission, and other Commissioners will present activity reports. More information is available on the 63rd Ordinary Session page, including the invitation to NGOs and the invitation to NHRIs. For more information on the ACHPR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will hold its 51st Ordinary Session from November 12 to December 7, 2018, in Tunis, Tunisia. During its sessions, the AfCHPR typically 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. For more information on the AfCHPR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) will hold its 32nd Ordinary Session from November 12 to November 22, 2018, in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia. Civil Society can find more information on registration on the registration page. During its sessions, the ACERWC generally considers States parties’ reports, complementary reports from civil society, communications, requests for investigation, and any other requests submitted before the Committee regarding States parties’ compliance with the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Some activities during the sessions are open while others are held in private. For more information on the African Human Rights System, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will hold its 128th Regular Session from November 19 to November 30, 2018. During its sessions, the IACtHR typically holds public hearings on the merits of individual complaints and deliberates on contentious cases alleging human rights violations. For more information about the IACtHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

European Court of Human Rights

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

On November 13, 2018, an ECtHR Chamber will hold a hearing in the case of Elçi v. Turkey. See ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings. In this case, the ECtHR communicated 34 applications to the Turkish government alleging that Turkey’s curfew measures violated Article 2 on the right to life, Article 3 on the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment, Article 5 on the right to liberty and security, and Article 34 on the right to individual application of the European Convention on Human Rights. [ECtHR Press Release: Elçi] The applicants claim these violations occurred as a result of curfews implemented by local governors in 2015, primarily in the south-eastern region of Turkey, and as a result of the State’s failure to comply with interim measures imposed under the Rules of Court. [ECtHR Press Release: Elçi] In connection with these curfews, the ECtHR received over 40 requests for interim measures intended to mitigate and prevent further harm, and the ECtHR subsequently accepted five of those requests. The applicants alleged that Turkey failed to comply with the Court’s orders to protect the lives and physical integrity of the five applicants. [ECtHR Press Release: Elçi] An additional 43 individuals in six of the applications died shortly after submitting their applications, and their family members are considering pursuing their applications. [ECtHR Press Release: Elçi]

On November 21, 2018, the ECtHR Grand Chamber will hold a hearing in the case of Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt v. Hungary. See ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings. In this case, the applicant, a political party, alleges Hungary violated Article 10 on the right to freedom of expression of the European Convention. [ECtHR Press Release: Panel Decisions] In response to a referendum on Hungary’s acceptance of refugees, the applicant created a phone application that allowed people to protest the referendum by anonymously posting photos of their invalid ballots and commenting on their reasoning for doing so. [ECtHR Press Release: Panel Decisions] Hungary’s Supreme Court found that the applicant’s phone application violated election rules regarding fair elections, voting secrecy, and the proper exercise of rights. [ECtHR Press Release: Panel Decisions] On January 23, 2018 an ECtHR Chamber held that Hungary violated Article 10 because the phone application did not “undermin[e] the secrecy or fairness of the referendum,” and because Hungary failed to show a link between the national election rules violated and the aims listed in paragraph 2 of Article 10. [ECtHR Press Release: Panel Decisions] On May 28, 2018, the Grand Chamber Panel accepted the State’s request to refer the case to the Grand Chamber. [ECtHR Press Release: Panel Decisions]

On November 28, 2018, the ECtHR Grand Chamber will hold a hearing in the case of López Ribalda and Others v. Spain. See ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings. In this case, five Spanish nationals filed an application on December 28, 2012 with the ECtHR alleging violations of Article 8 on the right to respect for private life and of Article 6 on the right to a fair trial of the European Convention. [ECtHR Press Release: Panel Decisions] After suspecting theft, the applicants’ former employer secretly installed cameras and recorded video footage of the applicants stealing items that led to their dismissal. [ECtHR Press Release: Panel Decisions] A Spanish employment tribunal admitted the covertly obtained videos as evidence and upheld the applicants’ employment terminations at first-instance, and the High Court of Justice of Catalonia upheld the decision on appeal. [ECtHR Press Release: Panel Decisions] On January 9, 2018, an ECtHR Chamber found that there had only been a violation of the applicants’ rights under Article 8, noting that the employer should have informed the applicants that they could be placed under surveillance and that the measure was not proportionate to the employer’s legitimate aim of protecting its property rights. [ECtHR Press Release: Panel Decisions] On May 28, 2018, the Grand Chamber Panel accepted Spain’s request to refer the case to the Grand Chamber. [ECtHR Press Release: Panel Decisions]

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