November 2019: UN Treaty Bodies, UPR Working Group & Regional Bodies In Session

UPR Reports Reviewed
Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc FerrŽ

In November, 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 and country visits. Five United Nations treaty bodies and one pre-sessional working group will hold sessions to assess States’ progress regarding women’s rights, civil and political rights, the prevention of torture, and the elimination of racial discrimination. 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 in November. Additionally, two UN Working Groups will hold sessions in Geneva, Switzerland. Of the regional bodies, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will be in session.

The UN treaty body sessions may be watched via UN Web TV. The public hearings of the IACtHR and the IACHR may be viewed via the IACtHR’s Vimeo page and the IACHR’s YouTube 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 Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Human Rights Committee, the Committee against Torture, and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Further, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Pre-sessional Working Group will begin its review of State reports and develop “list of issues” following its discussions on State reports. 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. Additionally, the Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture will meet privately to advance its work.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) will continue its 74th Session, which began on October 21 and will end on November 8, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to its provisional agenda and tentative programme of work, in October, the CEDAW Committee engaged in interactive dialogues with Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, and Seychelles to assess their compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Separately, the CEDAW Committee will review one individual complaint that alleges violations of the CEDAW.

Civil society members looking to attend the CEDAW Committee’s session must register through the Indico system before November 8, 2019. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CEDAW Committee’s 74th Session webpage.

Following the CEDAW Committee’s 74th Session, the CEDAW Committee Pre-sessional Working Group will hold its 76th Session from November 11 to 15, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland. The CEDAW Committee Pre-sessional Working Group will begin its review of the State reports of Denmark, Gabon, Kyrgyzstan, and Maldives to assess their implementation of the CEDAW. It will also consider list of issues prior to reporting for Belgium, Canada, and Switzerland to address in its simplified reporting procedure. For more information on the CEDAW Committee, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee will continue its 127th Session, which began on October 14 and will end on November 8, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to its proposed programme of work and provisional agenda, in October, the Committee held interactive dialogues with Belgium, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Czech Republic, Mexico, and Senegal to assess their implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In November, the Human Rights Committee’s task forces will consider and adopt lists of issues for Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ukraine ahead of their interactive dialogue. The Committee will also consider list of issues prior to reporting for Afghanistan, Croatia, and Spain to address in its simplified reporting procedure. Separately, the Committee will review one individual complaint that alleges 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.

To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the Human Rights Committee’s 127th 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 68th Session from November 11 to December 6, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to its proposed programme of work, the CAT will hold interactive dialogues with Burkina Faso, Cyprus, Latvia, Niger, Portugal, and Uzbekistan to assess their implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The CAT will also consider and adopt list of issues for Cuba, and consider list of issues prior to reporting for Armenia, Ecuador, Finland, Monaco, and Namibia to address in its simplified reporting procedure.

Civil society members who would like to attend the CAT’s session must register through the Indico system before December 6, 2019. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CAT’s 68th Session webpage. For more information on the CAT, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture

The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) will hold its 39th Session from November 18 to 22, 2019, 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 100th Session from November 25 to December 13, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to its provisional agenda, the CERD will hold interactive dialogues with Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Ireland, Israel, and Uzbekistan to assess their implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

According to the information note for NGOs, civil society members who would like to attend the CERD’s session must register through the Indico system before November 15, 2019. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CERD’s 100th Session webpage. For more information on the CERD, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review Working Group

The Human Rights Council’s UPR Working Group will hold its 34th Session from November 4 to 15, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland. According to its tentative timetable, the Working Group will hold interactive dialogues with Italy, The Gambia, Fiji, Kazakhstan, Iran, El Salvador, Bolivia, San Marino, Angola, Madagascar, Slovenia, Egypt, Iraq, and Bosnia and Herzegovina 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 wishing to submit written information for the report must follow the OHCHR technical guidelines for stakeholders submissions for the 3rd cycle. 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 independent human rights experts and monitoring bodies, known as UN “special procedures,” have country visits or sessions scheduled in November. Ten special procedures will carry out country visits and two working groups will hold sessions this month.

The UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity agreed to visit Sri Lanka from October 28 to November 8, 2019.

The UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism agreed to visit Brazil from October 28 to November 8, 2019.

The UN Working Group on arbitrary detention agreed to visit Qatar from November 3 to 14, 2019.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons agreed to visit Iraq from November 16 to 22, 2019.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment agreed to visit Maldives from November 17 to 24, 2019.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food agreed to visit Zimbabwe from November 18 to 28, 2019.

The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance agreed to visit Qatar from November 24 to December 1, 2019.

The UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons agreed to visit China from November 25 to December 3, 2019.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health agreed to visit Fiji from November 28 to December 6, 2019.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation agreed to visit Benin from November 29 to December 12, 2019.

The UN Working Group on arbitrary detention will hold its 86th Session from November 18 to 22, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UN Working 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 38th Session from November 25 to 29, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland.

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.

Regional Bodies

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) will continue its 65th Ordinary Session, which began on October 21 and will end on November 10, 2019, in Banjul, The Gambia. During its session, the ACHPR typically holds various panel discussions on the human rights situation in Africa and considers State reports to review compliance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter). Additionally, the special mechanisms of the ACHPR, the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the Commission, and other Commissioners present activity reports. More information is available on the 65th 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 of Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will hold its 55th Ordinary Session from November 4 to 29, 2019, in Zanzibar, Tanzania. During its sessions, the AfCHPR typically holds hearings on the admissibility and merits of pending complaints alleging violations of the African Charter. 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 174th Period of Sessions from November 8 to 14, 2019, in Quito, Ecuador. During the session, it will hold public hearings on a range of human rights concerns in the region, including in 13 countries. They are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The schedule of hearings is available on the IACHR website. For more information on the IACHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will hold its 132nd Regular Session from November 18 to 29, 2019 at its seat in San José, 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. For more information on the IACtHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

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