Human Rights Bodies’ Sessions & Hearings: August 2020

Committee on Enforced Disappearances
Committee on Enforced Disappearances

Committee on Enforced Disappearances meets virtually
Credit: UN Web TV

In August, the African human rights court and commission, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) will be in session, virtually. The UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) will continue the online session it began in May, in order to allow members to continue their work remotely.

The Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee and Working Group on Communications have postponed their scheduled meetings from August 2020 to February 2021, per the Council’s homepage and Working Group webpage. Although the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues and Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures have country visits currently scheduled for August (to Paraguay and Venezuela, respectively), it is not clear whether they will proceed.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the scheduling and format of supranational human rights bodies’ sessions and other activities. The IJRC monthly overviews have detailed these changes, beginning in April 2020. For an overview of the changes in human rights oversight caused by the pandemic, see our July post on OpenGlobalRights. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) will hold its 66th Ordinary Session virtually from July 13 to August 7. The first two weeks of the session took place via Zoom and were open to civil society participation and public attendance. From July 28 to August 6, the Commission will meet privately. On August 7, it will hold the closing ceremony, publicly, via Zoom. [ACHPR Press Release: Session Notice] The session had been originally scheduled to take place from April 22 to May 12, but was rescheduled due to COVID-19. [ACHPR Press Release: Session Rescheduled] For additional information on the ACHPR, visit the African Human Rights System page of the IJRC Online Resource Hub.

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will hold its 58th Ordinary Session virtually from August 31 to September 25. No additional information is posted on the Court’s webpage at this time. For additional information on the AfCHPR, visit the African Human Rights System page of the IJRC Online Resource Hub.

Committee on Enforced Disappearances

Through August, the CED will continue its virtual 18th Session, which began on May 4, 2020. When it suspended the in-person 18th Session because of the pandemic, the Committee decided to keep the session open remotely and online to allow it to continue its work. It has postponed to the 19th Session its examination of States’ reports and other in-person activities originally scheduled for the 18th Session. See CED, CSO Information Note. The 19th Session will be held from September 7 to 25. For more information on the CED, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub. 

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

From August 4 to 7, the CERD will hold its 101st Session, which had been scheduled to take place from April 20 to May 8. The session will be conducted remotely. Like other treaty bodies, the CERD has postponed its constructive dialogues with States regarding their periodic reports on implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It will, however, hold “informal meetings” with non-governmental organizations regarding the States previously scheduled for review during this session: Bahrain, Belgium, Bolivia, Denmark, France, Niger, Singapore, and Thailand. The opening and closing portions of the session will be public and webcast on UN Web TV, and will include remote participation. See CERD, Proposed Programme of Work (Online).  Registration is open to civil society. See CERD, Information Note: Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs). During the closed portion of its agenda, the Committee will consider communications and other matters. For more information on the CERD, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The CRPD will resume its 23rd Session, from August 17 to September 4, remotely. See CRPD, Informative note for the participation of stakeholders. The CRPD postponed this session in March when it did not have a quorum because of the pandemic. [IJRC] The CRPD will not hold constructive dialogues with States or adopt concluding observations, which it usually does during sessions as part of its review of States’ periodic reports on their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The CRPD has also postponed the deadlines for civil society submissions regarding the States originally scheduled for review during this session. It will continue to adopt lists of issues at its pre-sessional working groups, to keep the State reporting process moving. The CRPD has postponed its 24th Session, originally scheduled for August and September 2020, to approximately March 2021. See CRPD, 24 Session. For more information, visit the CRPD page on the IJRC Online Resource Hub.

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

The WGAD will meet privately from August 24 to 28, according to the calendar maintained by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. See OHCHR, Calendar of Meetings and Events 2020. For more information on the WGAD, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Additional Information

The International Justice Resource Center has put together a webpage compiling supranational human rights bodies’ guidance on States’ obligations to respect human rights in their COVID-19 mitigation efforts. See IJRC, COVID-19 Guidance from Supranational Human Rights Bodies. The webpage includes resolutions, press releases, and other statements from universal and regional bodies as well as their parent intergovernmental organizations, organized by issue area and by the body or organization that issued it. See id.

For more information on other suspended sessions or the various human rights monitoring bodies, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub. To stay up-to-date on international human rights law news, visit IJRC’s News Room or subscribe to the IJRC Daily.