July 2019: UN Treaty Bodies, Human Rights Council, & Regional Bodies in Session
In July, a number of universal and regional human rights bodies and experts will review States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through the consideration of State and civil society reports and country visits. Three United Nations treaty bodies will hold sessions to assess States’ progress regarding the rights of women, civil and political rights, and the prevention of torture. The Human Rights Council will continue its consideration of the overall human rights situations in 15 countries. Three UN special procedures will conduct country visits in July. Additionally, the UN Working Group on mercenaries and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will hold sessions in Geneva. Of the regional bodies, the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will be in session and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold two Grand Chamber hearings.
The UN treaty body sessions may be watched via UN Web TV. The public hearings of the ECtHR may be viewed via the ECtHR’s website. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.
UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies
Three of the 10 UN human rights treaty bodies, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Human Rights Committee, and the Committee Against Torture will hold public meetings this month. 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 Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee) will hold its 73rd Session from July 1 to July 19, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to its proposed programme of work, the CEDAW Committee will be holding interactive dialogues with Austria, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, Guyana, Mozambique, and Qatar to assess their implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
According to the information note for NGOs, civil society members who would like to attend the CEDAW Committee’s session must register through the Indico system before July 19, 2019. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CEDAW Committee’s 73rd Session webpage.
Following the CEDAW’s 73rd Session, the CEDAW Committee will hold its 75th Pre-sessional Working Group from July 22 to July 26, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Working Group will begin its review of State reports from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Kiribati, Latvia, Pakistan, Moldova, and Zimbabwe to assess their compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Additionally, the Working Group will consider list of issues prior to reporting for Spain and Tunisia to address under their simplified reporting procedure. Civil society members who would like to participate in the Committee’s 75th Pre-sessional Working Group must register through the Indico system before July 26, 2019. For more information on the CEDAW Committee, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
Human Rights Committee
The Human Rights Committee will hold its 126th Session from July 1 to July 26, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to its proposed programme of work, the Human Rights Committee will be holding interactive dialogues with Mauritania, Paraguay, the Netherlands, and Tajikistan to assess their implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Committee will also hold interactive dialogues, in absence of a State report, with Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria to assess their country situations. Additionally, the Human Rights Committee will examine and adopt list of issues for Portugal and Uzbekistan ahead of those States’ interactive dialogues, and will consider list of issues prior to reporting for Chile, Cyprus, India, and the Republic of Korea to address in its simplified reporting procedure. Separately, the Committee will review 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 who would like to attend the Human Rights Committee’s session must register through the Indico system before June 26, 2019. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CCPR’s 126th Session webpage. For more information on the Human Rights Committee, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
Committee Against Torture
The Committee Against Torture (CAT) will hold its 67th Session from July 22 to August 9, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland. Based on its proposed programme of work, the CAT will be holding interactive dialogues with Bangladesh, Greece, Poland, and Togo to assess their implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Civil society members who would like to attend the CAT’s session must register through the Indico system before August 9, 2019. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CAT’s 67th Session webpage. For more information on the CAT, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
Human Rights Council
The Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental deliberative body, will continue its 41st Session, which began on June 24 and will end on July 12, 2019. According to the session agenda, the Human Rights Council will review reports from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Secretary General, outcome reports from the Universal Periodic Review Working Group on specific States, and reports from UN special procedures mandate holders. The list of reports is available on the session’s webpage.
The Human Rights Council will convene several panel discussions on topics including women and climate change, violence against women in the workforce and the rights of older women and their economic empowerments, the rights of indigenous peoples, and technical cooperation in the field of the rights of older persons.
Nongovernmental organizations (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, as described on the Council’s webpage on NGO participation. Relevant documents and further information regarding the issues that will be covered at the session, including the reports considered during the session, submissions from civil society, and the Council’s agenda, is available on the Human Rights Council’s 41st Session webpage. For more information about the Human Rights Council, 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 July. One expert mechanism and one working group will hold sessions this month. Additionally two special rapporteurs and one independent expert will carry out country visits this month.
The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will hold its 12th Session from July 15 to July 19, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.
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 37th Session from July 15 to July 19, 2019 in New York.
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants agreed to visit Hungary from July 10 to July 17, 2019.
The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association agreed to visit Sri Lanka from July 15 to July 26, 2019.
The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia agreed to visit Somalia from July 15 to July 26, 2019.
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, review the Special Procedures’ Visits document and visit the OHCHR website. For more information on each special procedure, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
European Committee of Social Rights
The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will hold its 307th Session from July 1 to July 5, 2019 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 rights of children, the family, and migrants from France, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, and Finland throughout the 2019 calendar year. The ECSR will consider simplified reports on the same topics from the Netherlands, Sweden, Croatia, Norway, Slovenia, Cyprus, and the Czech Republic throughout the 2019 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.
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court will hold a Grand Chamber hearing in the case of Big Brother Watch and Others v. the United Kingdom (nos. 58170/13, 62322/14 and 24960/15) on July 10, 2019 in Strasbourg, France. See ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings. This case concerns three joint applications submitted by organizations and journalists or rights activists over the United Kingdom’s surveillance laws and practices. [ECtHR Press Release] The applicants assert that three surveillance practices revealed by Edward Snowden’s work—(1) bulk interception of communications; (2) “intelligence sharing” with governments of other states; and (3) data collection from communications service providers—violated their rights under Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life and communications), Article 10 (freedom of expression), Article 6 (right to a fair trial), and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights. [ECtHR Press Release] In its Chamber judgment from 2018, the ECtHR found that both the bulk interception and the data-gathering regimes violated the applicants’ rights to respect for private and family life and communications, and the right to freedom of expression. [ECtHR Press Release] The Chamber did not find violations with respect to the intelligence sharing with foreign governments, and the Chamber dismissed the applicants’ claims under articles 6 and 14. [ECtHR Press Release] On February 4, 2019, the Grand Chamber Panel accepted the applicants’ request to refer the case to the Grand Chamber. [ECtHR Press Release]
The ECtHR will also hold a Grand Chamber hearing in the case of Centrum för rättvisa v. Sweden (no. 35252/08) on July 10, 2019 in Strasbourg, France. See ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings. This case concerns a non-profit organization, Centrum för rättvisa, that litigates on behalf of clients in cases of alleged State-perpetrated rights violations. [ECtHR Press Release] The organization filed an application with the ECtHR in 2008 claiming that Swedish law and practice regarding the collection of signals intelligence, which refers to the interception, analysis, and reporting of intelligence from electronic signals, constituted a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life, the home, and correspondence) of the Convention. [ECtHR Press Release] The organization also argued that under Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) there is no effective remedy available in Sweden and, therefore, the Court could examine the case without the organization first exhausting domestic remedies or alleging that their own communications had been intercepted. [ECtHR Press Release] A Chamber of the ECtHR decided that it could examine the application in the abstract given that the legislation at issue “amounted to a system of secret surveillance that potentially affected all users.” [ECtHR Press Release] However, the Chamber held in 2018 that there had been no violation of Article 8 because there were sufficient safeguards in place to prevent against arbitrariness and abuse, especially in light of the legitimate national security concerns at stake. [ECtHR Press Release] On February 4, 2019, the Grand Chamber Panel accepted the applicant’s request for a Grand Chamber hearing. [ECtHR Press Release]
For more information on the European Court of Human Rights, visit the IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.