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

African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights session banner
African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights session banner

Credit: African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (via Flickr)

In December, 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. Two United Nations treaty bodies will continue reviewing States’ progress, with regard to the elimination of torture and racial discrimination, in sessions that began last month. Four UN special procedures will conduct country visits in December, and two UN working groups will hold sessions.

Regionally, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will be holding public sessions.

The UN treaty body sessions, the public hearings of the IACHR, and the AfCHPR’s public hearings may be watched via UN Web TV, the IACHR’s website or Vimeo page, and the African Court’s YouTube channel, respectively. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.

UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies

Two 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 Against Torture and the 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.

Committee Against Torture

The Committee Against Torture (CAT) will continue its 65th Session in Geneva, Switzerland. The session began on November 12 and will end on December 7, 2018. According to the proposed programme of work and the provisional agenda, in November, the CAT conducted 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. 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.

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will continue its 97th Session which began November 26 and lasts through December 14, 2018, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the proposed programme of work and the provisional agenda, the CERD held interactive dialogues with Qatar, Honduras, and Iraq in November. This month, it will hold interactive dialogues with Albania, Norway, and South 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 have been sent by November 5, 2018 to cerd@ohchr.org. Civil society members wishing to attend the Committee’s session must have registered 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.

Special Procedures

In December, five special procedures will carry out country visits, and one will hold a private session.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities will continue its visit to Kuwait from November 26 to December 6, 2018.

The Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice is scheduled to visit Poland from December 3 to December 13, 2018.

The Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity will visit Mozambique from December 3 to 10, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment is scheduled to visit Fiji from December 7 to December 18, 2018.

The Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance is scheduled to visit Morocco from December 13 to December 21, 2018.

The Working Group of experts on people of African descent will hold its 23rd Session from December 3 to December 7, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. During their country visits, these special procedures mandate holders will assess the human rights situation as it relates 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 a 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 Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will continue its 51st Ordinary Session which began on November 12 and will close on 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. For more information on the AfCHPR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold its 170th Period of Sessions from December 3 to December 7, 2018, in Washington, D.C., 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 website. For more information on the IACHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

IJRC supports timely human rights oversight that is relevant to the individuals and communities affected by human rights violations. As such, IJRC has prepared a toolkit to raise awareness of the IACHR’s December 5 and 6 hearings related to migrants’ rights, and to increase familiarity with human rights bodies’ findings and statements on this topic.

European Committee of Social Rights

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) of the Council of Europe will hold its 303rd Session from December 3 to December 7, 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.