In November 2020, various regional and United Nations bodies will convene – mostly virtually – to continue their oversight of States’ implementation of their human rights commitments. The bodies in session will include the African and Inter-American human rights courts, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Human Rights Committee, and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. [Note: subsequent to publication of this post, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child announced a session to be held in November and December 2020. This information is now added below.]
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 initial 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 Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will hold its 59th Ordinary Session virtually from November 2 to 27. The AfCHPR has been convening virtually due to the pandemic. Session details will be posted to the AfCHPR’s webpage. For more information on the AfCHPR, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) will hold its 67th Ordinary Session virtually from November 13 to December 3. The public portions of the session will be live streamed, although organizations must register in advance to participate or make statements via Zoom. See the session webpage for deadlines and details. The Commission will consider the human rights situation in Africa, State party reports, applications for observer status, and other matters. For more information on the ACHPR, visit the IJRC 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 36th Session, virtually, from November 23 to December 4. The ACERWC held its last session via Zoom. No additional details are yet available for the 36th Session, but they will be posted on the ACERWC’s sessions webpage. For more information on the ACERWC, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will hold its 138th Period of Sessions from November 2 to 25. [IACtHR Press Release] The Court will hold public, virtual hearings in the cases of Hernández et al. v. Honduras (concerning the alleged extrajudicial execution in 2009 of Vicky Hernández, a trans woman and human rights defender) and Guachalá Chimbó et al. v. Ecuador (involving the disappearance of Luis Eduardo Guachalá Chimbó while he was involuntarily held in a mental health institution). [IACtHR Press Release] The judges will privately deliberate on its judgments in four cases, and on an advisory opinion regarding the obligations of States that have withdrawn from the American Convention on Human Rights and Charter of the Organization of American States. For more information on the IACtHR, visit the Inter-American Human Rights System webpage of the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
The Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) will hold its 36th Session from November 2 to 13; the session had been postponed from May due to COVID-19. [OHCHR Press Release] The 14 countries to be reviewed are: Andorra, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Panama, and the United States of America. The documentation for each State’s review is available on the Human Rights Council website. The session will be streamed on UN Web TV. For more information on the UPR, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies
The UN human rights treaty bodies’ schedules have been in flux due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to guidance released by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in September, treaty bodies are postponing State party reviews and holding limited sessions virtually, or postponing their sessions entirely. Visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub for more information on each of the UN human rights treaty bodies.
Human Rights Committee
The Human Rights Committee will hold its 130th Session from October 12 to November 6, in a virtual and limited fashion. The session will consist mostly of closed meetings on individual communications and other matters, per the programme of work.
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) will hold its 77th Session from October 26 to November 5, virtually. Additional details are available in the provisional agenda.
Committee against Torture
Because of the pandemic, the Committee against Torture (CAT) has postponed its 70th session, which had been scheduled for November 9 to December 4, 2020. The session is now provisionally scheduled for April and May 2021. In July 2020, CAT had held a brief remote session, during which the Chairperson Jens Modvig noted considerable obstacles to holding a productive virtual session.
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) will hold its 42nd Session, privately, from November 9 to 13, according to the OHCHR calendar. The SPT’s sessions are confidential. Also in November, the SPT will hold a 10th anniversary celebration of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). The celebration, which will be held on November 17 in Geneva, is open to States, nongovernmental organizations, academics, and others, and will also be webcast on UN Web TV. Registration for in-person attendance is due by November 9.
Special procedure mandate holders have suspended travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, and no country visits appear to be taking place in November. The mandate holders continue to carry out other work. Visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub for additional information on the special procedures.
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Working Group on the use of mercenaries
Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent
The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (WGEPAD) will hold its 26th session from November 30 to December 4, on the topic of environmental justice, the climate crisis and people of African descent. The session will be held in Geneva. Additional details are available in the draft programme of work. Civil society and other stakeholders may participate remotely in the thematic discussions.
Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) will hold its 13th session from November 30 to December 4, following a postponement due to COVID-10. Exceptionally, EMRIP will hold four regionally-focused meetings on the impact of COVID-19 on the rights of Indigenous peoples, which will be open to Indigenous peoples and other participants. In order to speak, individuals must register by November 6, following the instructions on the session webpage. The regional meetings will be webcast via UN Web TV.
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.