Human Rights Bodies’ Sessions & Hearings: February 2021

IACtHR holds a hearing on Zoom in January 2021
IACtHR holds a hearing on Zoom in January 2021
Credit: IACtHR via YouTube

In February 2021, various regional and United Nations bodies will convene – mostly virtually – to continue their oversight of States’ implementation of their human rights commitments. The regional bodies in session will include the African human rights court and commission, Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The United Nations bodies in session include the Human Rights Council and the UN human rights treaty bodies focused on economic, social and cultural rights; discrimination against women; and children’s rights. For more information on each of the bodies mentioned, visit the Courts & Monitoring Bodies section of the IJRC Online Resource Hub.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the scheduling and format of supranational human rights bodies’ sessions and other activities. For example, the United Nations special procedure mandate holders have mostly suspended their country visits, and only one is scheduled for February 2021: a visit to Venezuela by the Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures. 

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 ACHPR has announced its 31st Extraordinary Session will take place from February 19 to 25. Additional information is not yet available on the Commission’s sessions webpage.

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The AfCHPR will hold its 60th Ordinary Session from February 1 to 26. [AfCHPR Press Release] It plans to issue at least five judgments, which will be delivered via a livestream on the Court’s YouTube page.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) is holding its 139th Period of Sessions from January 25 to February 19. [IACtHR Press Release (Spanish)] In February, it will hold hearings in four cases. The videos will be streamed and recorded on the Court’s YouTube page.

Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Council will hold its 46th regular session from February 22 to March 23 in Geneva, Switzerland. The session agenda and programme of work are available on the session webpage, along with other documentation. The Council will consider the reports of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review for Andorra, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Panama, Mongolia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, and the United States of America. In addition to many other reports from the special procedure mandate holders and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), it will receive the Commissioner’s report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human rights worldwide. The Council will also appoint several special procedure mandate holders and members of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP).

UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies

Some UN treaty bodies are resuming limited State party reviews, which had been postponed because of COVID-19 and in accordance with guidance released by the OHCHR in September 2020. Newer information from the OHCHR indicates which bodies plan to hold reviews in the first few months of 2021. Treaty bodies’ public activities, including State party reviews that do take place, will be webcast on UN Web TV.

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The CESCR will hold its 69th Session, virtually, from February 15 to March 5. This month, it will hold its review of Finland and Latvia, as detailed in the programme of work. The session agenda indicates that other State parties’ reviews have been postponed to future sessions.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

The CEDAW Committee will hold its 78th Session, virtually, from February 15 to 25. The Committee will hold its review of Denmark on February 22-24. All other State party reviews have been postponed to the next session.

Committee on the Rights of the Child

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will hold its 86th Session, virtually, from January 18 to February 5. The Committee will not hold any State party reviews during this session.

Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture

The SPT will hold its 43rd Session, virtually, from February 8 to 12. The SPT meets privately.

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.