Human Rights Bodies’ Sessions & Hearings: October 2021

logo for 2021 Social Forum
Credit: OHCHR

In October 2021, various international human rights bodies will meet – mostly virtually – to continue their monitoring and oversight of States’ human rights practices. For more information on each of the bodies mentioned, visit the Courts & Monitoring Bodies section of the IJRC Online Resource Hub.

At the regional level, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, European Committee of Social Rights, and Inter-American human rights court and commission will all be in session. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights does not have any hearings scheduled for October.

At the United Nations, the human rights treaty bodies in session are those focused on: migrant workers’ rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; civil and political rights; and discrimination against women. The following UN special procedures are scheduled to carry out country visits in October: the Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, to Zimbabwe; the Independent Expert on older persons, to Finland; and the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, to Italy.

In addition, the 2021 Social Forum, an annual discussion convened by the UN Human Rights Council, will take place on October 11 and 12 in Geneva and online. This year’s theme is “good practices, success stories, lessons learned and challenges in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.” The registration deadline for attending is October 8. The event will be webcast live on UN Web TV, as well.

Finally, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and special procedures have issued various calls for input with deadlines in October, including for submissions related to girls and young women’s activism, statistics and data collection on discrimination against women and girls, human rights defenders’ anti-corruption work, the effects of foreign debt, decriminalization of homelessness and extreme poverty, and transitional justice. Other special procedures are soliciting input ahead of planned visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, and Zimbabwe.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the scheduling and format of supranational human rights bodies’ sessions and other activities, particularly at the regional level. 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 2020 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) is holding its 62nd Ordinary Session from September 6 to October 1. The Court will deliver judgments on October 1, via its YouTube channel. [AfCHPR Press Release]

European Committee of Social Rights

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will hold its 323rd Session from October 18 to 22. The agenda will likely be posted just ahead of the session.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold its 181st Period of Sessions, virtually, from October 18 to 29. The IACHR will hold a hearing convened at its own initiative, on protection of migrants, refugees and returnees in Central and North America, on October 26. [IACHR Press Release] Closer to the session start, the IACHR will announce the schedule of other hearings solicited by civil society. It will also hold private meetings with civil society members.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) is holding its 144th Ordinary Period of Sessions from September 20 to October 15. The Court will deliberate seven judgments, including in the cases of Vera Rojas v. Chile (concerning an allegedly State-endorsed decision to end home hospitalization care for a child); Maya Kaqchikuel Indigenous Peoples of Sumpango et al. v. Guatemala (involving restrictions on the operations of four community radio stations); and Manuela et al. v. El Salvador (relating to the criminalization of abortion and to due process concerns in the homicide prosecution and conviction of Manuela). The Court will also hold private hearings on compliance with two prior judgments (both involving massacres in Guatemala). [IACtHR Press Release]

Human Rights Council

The United Nations Human Rights Council is holding its 48th regular session from September 13 to October 8, in Geneva. The session agenda indicates it will appoint three special procedure mandate holders and hear the presentation of reports by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, special procedures, and other mechanisms on specific countries and topics.

The Council has held, or is scheduled to hold, panel discussions on the unilateral coercive measures, the gender digital divide, the rights of Indigenous peoples, inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training, and peaceful protest.

On September 30, the Council was scheduled to adopt the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review for Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Palau, Paraguay, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, and Somalia.

UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies

UN treaty bodies have now resumed State party reviews and in-person sessions, which had been postponed because of COVID-19. Note that the October 2021 sessions are not listed in the OHCHR calendar of meetings, but are listed on the relevant bodies’ webpages and in a summary document prepared by the OHCHR. Treaty bodies’ public activities, including State party reviews that do take place, will be webcast on UN Web TV.

Committee on the Protection of Migrant Workers

The CMW is holding its 33rd Session from September 27 to October 8, in a hybrid format, in Geneva. Its programme of work has included constructive dialogues with Azerbaijan and Rwanda concerning their implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. State representatives’ in-person participation may be limited by venue capacity, while all other stakeholders – including civil society members – may only participate or observe virtually, per the CMW’s information note.

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The CESCR will hold its 70th Session from September 27 to October 15, in person, in Geneva. Its programme of work includes constructive dialogues with Azerbaijan, Bahrain (postponed), Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kuwait, and Nicaragua concerning their implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee will hold its 70th Session, in person, in Geneva from October 11 to November 5. The Committee will hold constructive dialogues with Armenia, Botswana, Germany, and Ukraine concerning their implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

The CEDAW Committee will hold its 80th Session, in person, in Geneva from October 18 to November 12. Its programme of work includes constructive dialogues with Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nicaragua, Russia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sweden, and Yemen concerning their implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Committee is advising civil society members to participate remotely, via Zoom, given pandemic-related limitations on room capacity.

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.