Category Archives: European System

September 2019: UN Treaty Bodies, Human Rights Council, And Regional Bodies in Session

Human Rights Council in Session
Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

In September, universal and regional human rights bodies and experts will review States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through the consideration of State and civil society reports and country visits. Three United Nations treaty bodies and one pre-sessional working group will hold sessions to assess States’ progress regarding the rights of persons with disabilities, children, and migrant workers. The Human Rights Council will consider the overall human rights situations in 14 countries. Nine UN special procedures will conduct country visits in September. Additionally, the UN Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances will hold a session in Geneva, Switzerland. Of the regional bodies, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR), the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will be in session, and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold three Grand Chamber hearings.

The UN treaty body sessions may be watched via UN Web TV. The public hearings of the AfCHPR, IACtHR, IACHR, and ECtHR may be viewed via the AfCHPR’s YouTube page, the IACtHR’s Vimeo page, the IACHR’s YouTube page, and the ECtHR’s website, respectively.

To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.

UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies

Three of the 10 UN human rights treaty bodies, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Pre-sessional Working Group, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families will meet this month to review certain States parties’ implementation of their treaty obligations. Through the State reporting procedure, treaty bodies review States’ reports and responses to a specific list of issues, receive additional information from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and national human rights institutions (NHRIs), engage in an interactive dialogue with each State’s representatives, and then adopt concluding observations detailing the progress and remaining challenges in the State’s implementation of the treaty. Through a simplified reporting procedure, treaty bodies may invite States to respond only to questions (list of issues) prepared by the treaty body, rather than submitting a comprehensive report and also responses to a subsequent list of issues.

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) will continue its 22nd Session in Geneva, Switzerland. The session started on August 26 and will end on September 20, 2019. Based on its tentative programme of work, the CRPD held interactive dialogues with Albania, Ecuador, and Myanmar in August to assess their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In September, the CRPD will hold interactive dialogues with Australia, El Salvador, Greece, India, Iraq, and Kuwait. Additionally, the CRPD will consider list of issues prior to reporting for Canada and Ukraine to address in its simplified reporting procedure.

Civil society members who would like to attend the CRPD’s session must register through the Indico system before September 20, 2019. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CRPD’s 22nd Session webpage. For more information on the CRPD, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Following the CRPD’s 22nd Session, the CRPD will hold its 12th Pre-sessional Working Group from September 23 to September 27, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Working Group will begin its review of State reports from Djibouti, France, Japan, Lao, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, and Venezuela to assess their compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Additionally, the Working Group will consider list of issues prior to reporting from Mauritius and Slovakia. Civil society members who would like to participate in the Committee’s pre-sessional working group must register through the Indico system before September 26, 2019.

Committee on the Rights of the Child

The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will hold its 82nd Session from September 9 to September 27, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The tentative programme of work for the session indicates that the CRC will conduct interactive dialogues with Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mozambique, Portugal, and the Republic of Korea to assess their compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The CRC will also consider the State report of Georgia for its compliance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and review Georgia’s and Panama’s State reports to assess their compliance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

Civil society members wishing to attend the CRC’s session must register through the Indico system before September 27, 2019. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CRC’s 82nd Session webpage. For more information on the CRC, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW) will hold its 31st Session from September 2 to September 11, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The provisional agenda for the session indicates that the CMW will conduct interactive dialogues with Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Colombia to assess their compliance with the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. The CMW will also consider and adopt list of issues for Belize and Burkina Faso ahead of those States’ interactive dialogue.

According to the information note for civil society organizations and NHRIs, individuals interested in attending the session must register through the Indico system by September 11, 2019. To view session documents, including State reports and civil society submissions, visit the CMW’s 31st Session webpage. For more information on the CMW, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental deliberative body, will hold its 42nd Session from September 9 to 27, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. According to the session agenda, the Human Rights Council will review reports from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Secretary General, outcome reports from the Universal Periodic Review Working Group on specific States, and reports from UN special procedures mandate holders. The list of reports is available on the session’s webpage.

The Human Rights Council will convene several panel discussions on topics including the rights of indigenous peoples, unilateral coercive measures and human rights, and the integration of a gender perspective in the Human Rights Council’s work and the work of its various mechanisms.

NGOs in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) can be accredited to participate in the Human Rights Council’s sessions as observers, as described on the Council’s webpage on NGO participation. Relevant documents and further information regarding the issues that will be covered at the session, including submissions from civil society and the Council’s agenda, is available on the Human Rights Council’s 42nd Session webpage. For more information about the Human Rights Council, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Special Procedures

Various independent human rights experts and monitoring bodies, known as UN “special procedures,” have country visits or sessions scheduled in September. Nine special rapporteurs will carry out country visits and one working group will hold a session this month.

The Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights will visit Mongolia from September 2 to September 11, 2019.

The Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment will visit Norway from September 12 to September 23, 2019.

The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context will visit Nigeria from September 13 to September 23, 2019.

The Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism will visit South Africa from September 16 to September 26, 2019.

The Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights will visit Tuvalu from September 16 to September 27, 2019.

The Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health will visit Ecuador from September 17 to September 26, 2019.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association will visit Zimbabwe from September 17 to September 27, 2019.

The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers will visit Uzbekistan from September 19 to September 26, 2019.

The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants will visit Bosnia and Herzegovina from September 24 to October 1, 2019.

The Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances will hold its 119th Session from September 16 to September 20, 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland.

During their country visits, these special procedures mandate holders will assess both the overall human rights situation in the country and the issues specific to their thematic focus. Experts also meet with civil society, government, and national human rights institutions when they visit a country. Their findings are published later in reports addressed to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly. See OHCHR, Country and other visits of Special Procedures. To view the full list of forthcoming country visits, review the Special Procedures’ Visits document and visit the OHCHR website. For more information on each special procedure, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Regional Bodies

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will continue its 54th Ordinary Session, which began on August 29 and will end on September 2, 2019, in Arusha, Tanzania. During its sessions, the AfCHPR typically holds hearings on the admissibility and merits of pending complaints alleging violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. During this session, the AfCHRP will also discuss the First International Court Forum on Human Rights, taking place from November 4 to 5, 2019 in Zanzibar, Tanzania, and the Fourth African Judicial Dialogue, taking place from October 30 to November 1, 2019 in Kampala, Uganda. For more information on the AfCHPR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

European Committee of Social Rights

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will hold its 308th Session from September 9 to September 13, 2019 in Strasbourg, France. The agenda and the synopsis for this session will be published on the ECSR’s calendar at a later date. During its sessions, the ECSR reviews States’ reports on their implementation of the European Social Charter, considers collective complaints alleging violations of the Charter, and follows up on the Turin process to improve implementation of the Charter at the continental level. According to the ECSR’s calendar for national reporting, the ECSR will consider State reports concerning the rights of children, the family, and migrants from France, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, and Finland throughout the 2019 calendar year. The ECSR will consider simplified reports on the same topics from the Netherlands, Sweden, Croatia, Norway, Slovenia, Cyprus, and the Czech Republic throughout the 2019 calendar year. Simplified reports focus on areas of non-conformity identified in the Committee’s previous conclusions. For more information on the European Committee of Social Rights, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold three Grand Chamber hearings this month. See ECtHR, Calendar of Hearings.

The ECtHR Grand Chamber will hold a hearing in the case Ukraine v. Russia (no. 20958/14) on September 11, 2019 in Strasbourg, France. This case is one of five inter-State applications pending before the ECtHR regarding events preceding and following from the Russian Federation’s assumption of control over the Crimean Peninsula and its exercise of control over separatist and armed groups in Eastern Ukraine. [ECtHR Press Release: UkraineECtHR Press Release: Adjourn] In this case, Ukraine alleges that Russia’s control over the region makes it responsible for the violation of numerous human rights listed in the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right to respect for private life (Article 8), freedom of religion (Article 9), freedom of expression (Article 10), freedom of assembly and association (Article 11), right to an effective remedy (Article 13), and the prohibition of discrimination (Article 14). [ECtHR Press Release: Ukraine] Ukraine alleges that Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea has resulted in the killings of military personnel and civilians both directly by Russian forces and through Russia’s support for violent separatist groups. The Government also alleges that Russia is responsible for the torture and other forms of ill-treatment of Ukrainians based on their ethnic origin. [ECtHR Press Release: Ukraine]

The ECtHR will also hold a Grand Chamber hearing in the case Selahattin Demirtaş v. Turkey (no. 2) (no. 14305/17) on September 18, 2019 in Strasbourg, France. This case concerns Selahattin Demirtaş, a Turkish parliamentary member who has been in pre-trial detention since 2016 on terrorism-related charges as a result of his work as a member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a leftist, pro-Kurdish party. [ECtHR Press Release: Turkey] Demirtaş submitted a complaint before the ECtHR in February 2017, alleging that he was detained for expressing opinions criticizing Turkish political authorities in violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights), Article 10 (freedom of expression), and Article 34 (right of individual petition) of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 (right to free elections) to the Convention. [ECtHR Press Release: Turkey] A Chamber of the ECtHR issued a judgment on November 20, 2018, finding Turkey in violation of Article 5 given that domestic authorities could not justify the duration of Demirtaş’s detention and of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention given that Demirtaş could not fulfill his parliamentary duties while in pre-trial detention. [ECtHR Press Release: Turkey] Additionally, the Chamber found that the fact that Demirtaş was detained during a referendum and presidential election limited his ability to participate freely in political debate, contrary to the “core concept of a democratic society” and in violation of Article 18 of the Convention. [ECtHR Press Release: Turkey] While the Court did not find that the State breached its obligations with respect to Article 34, the right of individual petition, the ECtHR found that the State had to take all necessary steps to end Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention. [ECtHR Press Release: Turkey] The State and applicant requested that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber, and the Grand Chamber accepted the request on March 18, 2019. [ECtHR Press Release: Turkey]

Finally, the ECtHR will hold a Grand Chamber hearing in the case Muhammad and Muhammad v. Romania (no. 80982/12) on September 25, 2019 in Strasbourg, France. This case concerns the removal of two Pakistani nationals from Romania. [ECtHR Press Release: Romania] The applicants were studying in Romania in 2012 when Romanian intelligence services notified them that they “pos[ed] a potential threat to national security” and a domestic court ruled them “undesirable” in Romania. [ECtHR Press Release: Romania] The applicants submitted a complaint before the ECtHR in December 2012, alleging that Romania violated Article 1 of Protocol No. 7 (procedural safeguards relating to expulsion of aliens) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the Convention. [ECtHR Press Release: Romania] A ECtHR Chamber relinquished its jurisdiction to the Grand Chamber on February 26, 2019, and the Grand Chamber accepted the request. [ECtHR Press Release: Romania]

For more information on the ECtHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Inter-American Court of Human Rights

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will continue its 62nd Special Session, which started on August 26 and will conclude on September 6, 2019, in Colombia. During its sessions, the IACtHR typically holds public hearings on the merits of individual complaints and deliberates on contentious cases alleging human rights violations. For more information on the IACtHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold its 173rd Period of Sessions from September 23 to October 2, 2019 in Washington D.C., United States. During the session, it will hold public hearings on a range of human rights concerns in the region, including in 17 countries. The schedule of hearings is available on the IACHR website. For more information on the IACHR, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.

European Court Rejects Complaint of Man Who “Insulted” the Court

Nikolay Alexeyev holding ballot paper which reads “No to homophobes, no to Luzhkov”
Credit: Niko 111 via Wikimedia Commons

On July 16, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rejected a complaint by Nikolay Alekseyev, a well-known Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activist, due to posts he made on his social media sites that the ECtHR considered “personally offensive and threatening.” See ECtHR, Zhdanov and Others v. Russia, nos. 12200/08 and 2 others, Judgment of 16 July 2019, para. 83. While the Court went on to find that Russia violated the remaining applicants’ rights to non-discrimination and freedom of association by refusing to register three organizations that advocate for LGBT rights, the Court did not reach the merits of Alekseyev’s complaint. Instead, it found his application inadmissible as “an abuse of the right of application,” pursuant to Article 35 of the European Convention on Human Rights. See id. at paras. 76-86. A majority of the judges agreed with Russia’s argument that Alekseyev abused the right to petition the European Court when he published social media posts describing the European Court’s judges in derogatory, sexist, and threatening terms in response to a previous ruling by the Court in a separate case. See id. In that case, the Court had denied him and others monetary compensation after finding Russia responsible for human rights violations in connection with authorities’ refusal to authorize public LGBT events. See id.

The European Court is not the only human rights oversight body whose rules allow it to reject human rights complaints because of the complainant’s offensive or abusive language, but such provisions and their application to speech made or published outside of the complaint proceeding raise concerns regarding due process, access to justice, and freedom of expression. Three judges on the ECtHR issued a dissenting opinion challenging the Court’s reasoning in dismissing Alekseyev’s application and warning that the precedent set in the Court’s judgment may impact individuals’ ability to access the Court in the future and infringe on their right to freedom of speech. See ECtHR, Case of Zhdanov and Others v. Russia, nos. 12200/08 and 2 others, Judgment of 16 July 2019 (joint partly dissenting opinion of Judges Keller, Serghides, and Elósegui).

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July 2019: UN Treaty Bodies, Human Rights Council, & Regional Bodies in Session

Credit: European Court of Human Rights

In July, a number of universal and regional human rights bodies and experts will review States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through the consideration of State and civil society reports and country visits. Three United Nations treaty bodies will hold sessions to assess States’ progress regarding the rights of women, civil and political rights, and the prevention of torture. The Human Rights Council will continue its consideration of the overall human rights situations in 15 countries. Three UN special procedures will conduct country visits in July. Additionally, the UN Working Group on mercenaries and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will hold sessions in Geneva. Of the regional bodies, the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will be in session and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold two Grand Chamber hearings.

The UN treaty body sessions may be watched via UN Web TV. The public hearings of the ECtHR may be viewed via the ECtHR’s website. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.

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European Court of Human Rights Issues First Ever Advisory Opinion

Courtroom of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg
Credit: Adrian Grycuk via Wikimedia Commons

In its first advisory opinion, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) considered the parental rights, under French law, of intended mothers to children born abroad through a surrogacy arrangement. See ECtHR, Advisory Opinion concerning the recognition in domestic law of a legal parent-child relationship between a child born through a gestational surrogacy arrangement abroad and the intended mother, Request no. P16-2018-001, Advisory Opinion of 10 April 2019. The Court established that intended mothers, whether biological or not, should have the possibility of obtaining legal recognition in France of their relationship with the child where the intended (and biological) father has been legally recognized and where the intended mother is identified as the “legal mother” in the foreign birth certificate. The advisory opinion is the Court’s first since the entry into force, in 2018, of Protocol No. 16, which authorizes the highest courts of States parties to request opinions from the Court on the interpretation or application of the to the European Convention on Human Rights with regard to specific legal questions. [IJRC] It remains to be seen how France will continue with the domestic proceedings that were postponed pending the ECtHR’s opinion. See Advisory Opinion concerning the recognition in domestic law of a legal parent-child relationship between a child born through a gestational surrogacy arrangement abroad and the intended mother, Advisory Opinion of 10 April 2019, at para. 18.

Legal Background

This advisory opinion emanates from the facts and events of the ECtHR’s judgment in the 2014 Mennesson v. France (no. 65192/11) case. See id. at para. 10. In that case, two children born in the United States via a surrogacy arrangement were denied legal recognition, in France, of their relationship with their intended parents, even though that relationship was legally recognized in the U.S. See id. at para. 10. The European Court decided that there had been no violation of any party’s right to respect of their family life, but that the children’s right to respect for private life had been violated. See id. at para. 11. The Court reasoned that the right to respect for private life included the ability to determine details of one’s identity, which includes the identification of one’s legal parents. See id. at para. 12.

This ruling expressly noted that it can never be in the best interests of the child to deny legal recognition of the relationship between children and their “intended” and biological father. See id. at para. 13. Since that ruling, French courts have allowed the registration of the intended father as the legal father, if he was also the biological father of the children in question, but did not provide the same recognition to the intended mother. See id. at para. 14. The only option under French law is for an intended mother to adopt her spouse’s child, provided she is married to the biological and intended father. See id. In 2017, the Mennessons, acting as their children’s legal representatives, requested a new decision regarding their appeal against the Paris Court of Appeals’ 2010 decision to annul the legal recognition of both parents’ relationship with their two children. The French Court of Cassation requested an advisory opinion from the European Court for the purposes of re-examining that appeal. See id. at paras. 16-17.

The Advisory Opinion

The French Court of Cassation requested this advisory opinion on October 12, 2018. See id. at para. 1. On December 3, 2018 the five-judge panel of the Grand Chamber accepted the request, which raised two questions for the ECtHR:

1. By refusing to enter in the register of births, marriages and deaths the details of the birth certificate of a child born abroad as the result of a gestational surrogacy arrangement, in so far as the certificate designates the ‘intended mother’ as the ‘legal mother’, while accepting registration in so far as the certificate designates the ‘intended father’, who is the child’s biological father, is a State Party overstepping its margin of appreciation under Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms? In this connection should a distinction be drawn according to whether or not the child was conceived using the eggs of the ‘intended mother’?

2. In the event of an answer in the affirmative to either of the two questions above, would the possibility for the intended mother to adopt the child of her spouse, the biological father, this being a means of establishing the legal mother-child relationship, ensure compliance with the requirements of Article 8 of the Convention?

See id. at paras. 2, 9. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to respect for private and family life.

State’s Refusal to Legally Recognize “Intended Mother”

In consideration of the first question, the ECtHR prioritized two factors: 1) the best interest of the child; and, 2) the scope of the margin of appreciation afforded to France in fulfilling its human rights obligations. See id. at para. 37. With respect to the best interests of the child, the European Court noted that while the State may have an interest in preventing individuals from undergoing procedures to assist their reproduction efforts that are legally precluded domestically, children who are conceived via such arrangements stand to face substantial hardships in the absence of the legal recognition of the relationship to their parents. See id. at paras. 39, 40. Specifically, the ECtHR stated that the children’s right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the European Convention is negatively impacted when domestic law does not recognize the legal relationship between children conceived via assisted reproduction methods, such as surrogacy, and their intended mother. See id. at para. 40. The Court further stated that an “absolute impossibility of obtaining recognition of the relationship between a child born through a surrogacy arrangement entered into abroad and the intended mother is incompatible with the child’s best interests.” See id. at para. 42.

With respect to the State’s margin of appreciation, an important factor – determined on a case-by-case basis – is the existence of legal “common ground” between States in Europe. See id. at para. 43. The ECtHR considered relevant laws among other Council of Europe States and acknowledged the low level of consensus on this issue, which would suggest a greater margin of appreciation. See id. However, the ECtHR also noted that the margin of appreciation may be restricted in cases in which particularly important issues of identity, such as the legal recognition of a parent-child relationship, are at stake. See id. at paras. 43-44. Thus, the ECtHR concluded that the State’s margin of appreciation is reduced given the circumstances outlined in this case. See id. Considering the best interests of the child and the reduced margin of appreciation, the Court stated that Article 8 “requires that domestic law provide a possibility of recognition of a legal parent-child relationship with the intended mother, designated in the birth certificate legally established abroad as the “legal mother.” See id. at para. 46.

Methods of Legal Recognition

With regard to the second question posed, the ECtHR considered Convention required a specific type of legal recognition of the parent-child relationship when there was no biological relationship between the child and intended mother. See id. at para. 48. The opinion states that the best interests of the child dictate that the period of legal uncertainty surrounding children’s relationship with their parents should be as brief as possible, but that this did not require that State adopt the exact details of birth certificates created abroad. See id. at paras. 49-50. Based on the lack of legal consensus within Europe and the Court’s view that an “individual’s identity is less directly at stake” when there is no biological relationship at issue, the Court concluded that it falls within States’ margin of appreciation to decide how exactly to recognize the parent-child relationship. See id. at para. 51. Therefore, alternatives including adoption by the intended mother may satisfy Article 8 so long as the process can be completed “promptly and effectively” and “in accordance with the best interests of the child.” See id. at para. 55. The ECtHR noted that it was not within the scope of its opinion to make a determination on the adequacy of French adoption law. See id. at para. 58.

Advisory Opinion Jurisdiction

On April 14, 2018, France became the tenth State to ratify Protocol 16 to the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom, triggering its entry into force in August of that year. [ECtHR Press Release] This Protocol extended the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights to include advisory jurisdiction for States that have ratified Protocol 16. [ECtHR Press Release]

To request an advisory opinion, a State court must provide reasons for its request, provide the relevant legal and factual background of the case, and must have the issue currently pending before it. See Protocol 16, art. 1(3). The State may submit written comments and may take part in the hearing. See id. at art. 3. The President of the ECtHR may also invite other States or individuals to submit comments or take part in the hearing. See id. While the advisory opinion of the ECtHR is non-binding on the State, the aim is to give the domestic courts guidance on interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Convention that relate to the case before it. See id. at art. 5; Advisory Opinion concerning the recognition in domestic law of a legal parent-child relationship between a child born through a gestational surrogacy arrangement abroad and the intended mother, Advisory Opinion of 10 April 2019, at para. 25. The ECtHR does not have jurisdiction to assess the facts of a domestic case or to interpret domestic law. See Advisory Opinion concerning the recognition in domestic law of a legal parent-child relationship between a child born through a gestational surrogacy arrangement abroad and the intended mother, Advisory Opinion of 10 April 2019, at para. 25. Ultimately, the requesting court or tribunal must still decide the case itself. See id.

So far, 13 States in the Council of Europe have ratified Protocol 16. Those are Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, San Marino, Slovenia, and Ukraine. See Council of Europe Treaty Office, Chart of signatures and ratifications of Treaty 214. An additional nine States have signed but not ratified Protocol 16. Those are Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovak Republic, and Turkey. See id.

Additional Information

For more information about the European Court of Human Rights, 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.

June 2019: UN Treaty Body, Human Rights Council, and Regional Bodies in Session

African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights session banner

African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights session banner
Credit: African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (via Flickr)

In June, several universal and regional human rights bodies and experts will review States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through the consideration of State and civil society reports and country visits. One United Nations treaty body will hold a session to assess States’ progress regarding the prevention of torture, and the Committee on the Rights of the Child Pre-Sessional Working Group will meet privately. The Human Rights Council will consider the overall human rights situations in 15 countries. Two UN special rapporteurs and one independent expert will conduct country visits in June. Additionally, the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice will hold a session in Geneva. Of the regional bodies, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will be in session and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold a Grand Chamber hearing.

The public hearings of the AfCHPR and the ECtHR may be viewed via the AfCHPR’s YouTube page, and the ECtHR’s website, respectively. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.

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May 2019: UN Treaty Bodies And Regional Bodies In Session

Palais des Nations
Credit: Jean-Marc Ferré via Flickr

In May, several universal and regional human rights bodies and experts will review States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through the consideration of State and civil society reports, country visits, and the review of individual complaints. Three United Nations treaty bodies will hold sessions to assess States’ progress regarding the elimination of racial discrimination, the prevention of torture, and the rights of children. The Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review will consider the overall human rights situations in 14 countries. Seven UN special rapporteurs, two independent experts, and one working group will conduct country visits in May. Additionally, four UN working groups will hold sessions in Geneva. Of the regional bodies, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), and the European Committee on Social Rights (ECSR) will all be in session. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold a Grand Chamber hearing.

The UN treaty body sessions may be watched via UN Web TV. The public hearings of the AfCHPR, IACtHR, IACHR, and ECtHR may be viewed via the AfCHPR’s YouTube page, the IACtHR’s Vimeo page, the IACHR’s YouTube page, and the ECtHR’s website, respectively. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.

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April 2019: UN Treaty Bodies & Regional Body in Session

European Court Of Human Rights
Credit: Anil Öztas via Wikimedia Commons

In April, several universal and regional human rights bodies and experts will review States’ compliance with their human rights obligations through the consideration of State and civil society reports, country visits, and the review of individual complaints. Five United Nations treaty bodies and one pre-sessional working group will hold sessions to assess States’ progress regarding the rights of persons with disabilities, migrant workers’ rights, enforced disappearances, the elimination of racial discrimination, and the prevention of torture. Seven UN special rapporteurs, two working groups, and one independent expert will conduct country visits in April. Additionally, three working groups will hold sessions in Geneva. Of the regional bodies, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will hold a Grand Chamber hearing.

The UN treaty body sessions may be watched via UN Web TV. The public hearings of the ECtHR can be viewed on the Court’s website. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar. Read more

Council of Europe Adopts Declaration on Artificial Intelligence and Personal Autonomy

In a new declaration on the impact of the use of algorithms on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers warns that artificial intelligence and other machine-learning technologies must not be used to unduly influence or manipulate individuals’ thoughts and behavior. See Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, Declaration by the Committee of Ministers on the manipulative capabilities of algorithmic processes, Decl(13/02/2019)1, 13 February 2019. The first of its kind, the declaration calls on States to take steps to ensure that technologies facilitating algorithmic persuasion, particularly those that “micro-target” individuals, do not interfere with people’s ability to enjoy their human rights and to make independent political, personal, and purchasing decisions. See id. at paras. 8, 9. The Declaration, which builds on ongoing study and analysis by Council of Europe organs, adds to the growing body of guidance and recommendations concerning the regulation of machine learning to safeguard human rights, including from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression. Read more

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