In December 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, European, and Inter-American human rights oversight bodies; the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
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 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 will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child during this session. The program also includes various briefings and presentations, and the planned adoption of a General Comment on Article 27 (sexual exploitation of children) of the Charter. For more information on the ACERWC, visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
European Committee of Social Rights
The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will hold its 317th Session from December 7 to 11, virtually. The draft agenda indicates that the Committee will privately consider collective complaints, national reports, and a statement on European Social Charter rights and COVID-19. The national reports under review focus on employment, training, and equal opportunities, pursuant to the staggered reporting calendar.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is holding its 178th Period of Sessions virtually from December 3 to 15. [IACHR Press Release] It will hold hearings via Zoom on December 3, 4, and 8 to 10, according to the online schedule. The hearings will address the merits of one case, the admissibility of one petition, and various topics of concern in particular countries and in the region. For more information on the IACHR, visit the Inter-American Human Rights System webpage of the IJRC Online Resource Hub.
UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies
No treaty bodies are currently scheduled to convene in December. 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.
The United Nations special procedure mandate holders have suspended travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, and no country visits appear to be taking place in December. The mandate holders continue to carry out other work. Visit the IJRC Online Resource Hub for additional information on the special procedures.
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.
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.