In April 2021, various regional and United Nations bodies are meeting – mostly virtually – to continue their oversight and monitoring of human rights conditions. The regional bodies in session will include the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the UN human rights treaty bodies focused on the rights of persons with disabilities and of migrant workers, and on the topics of torture, enforced disappearances, and racial discrimination. In addition, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold a virtual hearing, on April 7, in the case of Savickis and Others v. Latvia. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter terrorism is scheduled to visit Singapore from April 5 to 12. 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 no visits are scheduled for March 2021.
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 will hold its 68th Ordinary Session, via Zoom, from April 14 to May 4. The session agenda indicates the Commission will undertake its usual activities, including a discussion on the human rights situation in Africa and consideration of State reports (from Malawi, Benin, and Niger). The ACHPR will also launch two documents: the Guidelines on the Right to Water in Africa, and the draft proposed General Comment on Article 23 of the African Charter. Civil society members interested in participating should consult the Invitation to NGOs and list of links for registering to make a statement (by April 8). Others may register to view the session via Zoom.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
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. Note that the April 2021 sessions are not yet listed in the OHCHR calendar of meetings, but are listed on the relevant bodies’ webpages. Treaty bodies’ public activities, including State party reviews that do take place, will be webcast on UN Web TV.
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The CRPD will hold its 24th Session, virtually, from March 8 to April 1. This month, it will hold an “online pilot dialogue” with Estonia. The Committee held a general discussion on the right to work and employment, on March 22 and 24. Additional details can be found in the programme of work.
Committee on Migrant Workers
The CMW will hold its 32nd Session, virtually, from April 6 to 16. The Committee will review one State: Chile. According to its programme of work, it will also hold public informal meetings with nongovernmental organizations and national human rights institutions, as well as States and other stakeholders.
Committee on Enforced Disappearances
The CED will hold its 20th Session, virtually, from April 12 to 23. It will hold reviews for Switzerland and Mongolia, and adopt the list of issues in the absence of a report for Zambia. The Committee has also requested additional information from Colombia, which it will discuss with the State at this session. The CED’s programme of work provides additional details.
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The CERD will hold its 103rd Session, virtually, from April 19 to 30. According to its programme of work, the Committee will review one State: Belgium. It will also meet informally with nongovernmental organizations and hold other closed meetings.
Committee against Torture
The CAT will hold its 70th Session, virtually, from April 26 to 28. The Committee has postponed to 2022 the consideration of the six reports originally scheduled for this session. Its provisional agenda lists some of the obstacles to fulfilling the Committee’s work virtually, until in-person sessions resume. These include “the time difference between the locations of members of the Committee,” the lack of a “secure and well-functioning platform” for virtual meetings, and lack of “interpretation in the working languages.” However, according to the programme of work, and session webpage, the Committee intends to adopt its annual report, meet with nongovernmental organizations, review communications and inquiry procedures, and adopt the list of issues prior to reporting for Belarus, Chile, the Czech Republic, Norway, Qatar, Russia, and Senegal.
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.