May 2017: UN Treaty Bodies, UPR, and Regional Bodies in Session
In May, various universal bodies and experts will assess States’ compliance with their human rights obligations by conducting country visits, engaging in interactive dialogues, and reviewing reports from States and civil society, and human rights bodies in the African, Inter-American, and European human rights systems will hold sessions or hearings on individual complaints. Four UN treaty bodies will meet to engage with States regarding their treaty obligations pertaining to torture; racial discrimination; the rights of the child; and economic, social, and cultural rights. Four UN special procedure mandate holders and two working groups will conduct country visits, and three working groups will hold sessions in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss issues pertaining to discrimination against women, transnational corporations, and enforced disappearances. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will also be in session and will conduct interactive dialogues with representatives from 14 States.
Regionally, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the European Committee of Social Rights will all be in session. Additionally, a chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will hear a case concerning the right to fair trial, the right to private life, the right to property, and the right to an effective remedy.
The UN treaty body sessions and the public hearings of the European Court, Inter-American Commission, Inter-American Court, and African Court may be watched via UN Web TV, the European Court’s website, the Inter-American Commission’s website, Vimeo, and YouTube, respectively. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit the IJRC Hearings & Sessions Calendar.
Committee Against Torture 60th Session
The Committee Against Torture (CAT) will continue to hold its 60th Session in Geneva, Switzerland, which began on April 18 and ends on May 12, 2017. According to the provisional agenda, in May the CAT will hold an interactive dialogue with the Republic of Korea, having held dialogues with Afghanistan, Argentina, Bahrain, Lebanon, and Pakistan earlier in the session. The dialogues focus on each State’s implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. After reviewing these States’ reports and submissions from civil society, the CAT will adopt concluding observations, noting positive developments and offering recommendations for improved implementation of the Convention. At this session, according to the programme of work, the CAT will also adopt lists of issues for Rwanda and lists of issues prior to reporting for Colombia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Romania, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia so that these States can respond to the lists prior to their review.
Additionally, according to the programme of work, the CAT will meet with the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, discuss a revised draft of the General Comment on Article 3 of the Convention, meet with the Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) for a presentation of the SPT’s annual report, and hold an informal meeting with non-governmental organizations.
To view session documents, including the provisional agenda, programme of work, State party reports, and submissions from civil society, visit the 60th Session webpage. To follow the session online, visit the live webcast. For more information about the CAT and SPT, visit IJRC’s website.
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 92nd Session
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will continue to hold its 92nd Session in Geneva, Switzerland, which began on April 24 and will end on May 12, 2017. According to the Committee’s schedule, in May the CERD will review State reports from Kenya, Cyprus, and Bulgaria, having reviewed Armenia, Finland, and Republic of Moldova, to assess their implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. After reviewing the States’ reports, the CERD will issue concluding observations, noting challenges to and positive developments in implementing the Convention. According to the provisional agenda and proposed programme of work, the CERD will also discuss follow up activities to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and will hold informal meetings with non-governmental organizations and States parties.
Committee on the Rights of the Child 75th Session
The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will hold its 75th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from May 15 to June 2, 2017. According to the Committee’s 75th Session webpage, the CRC will consider the State reports from Antigua and Barbuda, Bhutan, Cameroon, Lebanon, Mongolia, Qatar, and Romania to assess their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The CRC will also consider reports from Bhutan and the United States of America to assess their implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
After reviewing the State’s reports, the CRC will issue concluding observations, noting challenges to and positive developments in implementing the Convention.
To view session documents, including State party reports, submissions from civil society, and the Committee’s programme of work, visit the 75th Session webpage. To follow the session online, visit the live webcast.
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 61st Session
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) will hold its 61st Session in Geneva, Switzerland from May 29 to June 23, 2017. The CESCR will consider State reports from Australia, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Uruguay to assess their implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. After the Committee considers the State reports and accompanying alternative reports from civil society members and holds interactive dialogues with each State, the Committee will deliberate and adopt concluding observations on each State’s compliance with the Covenant, noting challenges and positive developments. According to the programme of work and the provisional agenda, the CESCR will also hold meetings with civil society partners.
According to the Information Note for civil society organizations, civil society reports on State compliance with the Covenant should be submitted at least three weeks prior to the start of the Session, and civil society representatives who wish to attend the Session must submit information on their proposed attendance at least 10 days prior to the Session.
To view session documents, including information for civil society organizations, civil society reports, State reports, and the Committee’s programme of work and provisional agenda, visit the 61st Session webpage.
Human Rights Council
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will hold its 27th Session from May 1 to 12, 2017, in Geneva, Switzerland. According the calendar for the 3rd cycle of the UPR, the States under review at the 27th Session are Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Finland, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, India, Brazil, Philippines, Algeria, Poland, the Netherlands, and South Africa.
During the Session, a group of three Human Rights Council Member States (or troika) will facilitate the review of each country. Representatives from the country being reviewed will give an oral presentation followed by an interactive dialogue. The troika will then provide its comments and recommendations, which the reviewed country can accept or reject. A final outcome report will then be adopted, and the country will report on its implementation of the recommendations during the following UPR cycle.
The UPR is a peer review mechanism designed to assess and advance human rights in all UN Member States. The UPR Working Group of the Human Rights Council holds three sessions per year and comprises all 47 Council Member States. The UPR cycle lasts for a four-and-a-half-year period. For more information about past, present, and future UPR sessions, including timetables and lists of troikas, visit the UPR Sessions webpage and the UPR main webpage.
Four UN special procedure mandate holders and two working groups will conduct country visits, and three working groups will hold sessions in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation is scheduled to visit Mexico from May 2 to May 11, 2017.
The Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes is scheduled to visit Peru from May 2 to May 16, 2017.
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 is scheduled to visit Panama from May 2 to May 10, 2017.
The Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material is scheduled to visit the Dominican Republic from May 8 to May 15, 2017.
The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises is scheduled to visit Canada from May 23 to June 1, 2017.
During their country visits, these independent experts will assess both the overall human rights situation in the country and 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 Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. See OHCHR, Country and visits of Special Procedures.
The Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will hold its 17th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from May 8 to 12, 2017.
The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will hold its 112th Session from May 8 to 17, 2017, in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and practice will hold its 19th Session from May 15 to 19, 2017, in Geneva, Switzerland. This session will be closed to the public.
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 60th Ordinary Session
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) will hold its 60th Ordinary Session from May 8 to May 22, 2017, in Niamey, Niger. The ACHPR will review State reports from Mauritania and Rwanda on legislative and other measures taken by the States aimed at giving effect to the rights in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The ACHPR will give each State representative an opportunity to respond to questions posed by the ACHPR and to provide additional information. Following consideration of the State reports and any additional reports from the Commission members or special mechanisms (rapporteurs, committees, and working groups), the ACHPR will issue concluding observations and make recommendations to ensure further compliance with the African Charter. The ACHPR may also consider reports from country visits.
Institutions, organizations, or any other interested party may participate in the Session and submit their own information on the human rights situation in the State concerned to the Secretary of the Commission. Reports from civil society should be submitted 60 days prior to the Commission’s review of the State report.
The ACHPR is a regional body in Africa that generally holds two ordinary sessions per year, although it may decide to hold additional extraordinary sessions as well. It reviews State compliance with the African Charter through its reporting procedure, assessment of individual complaints, fact-finding and promotional missions to States, and monitoring.
Information for participants, an invitation for non-governmental organizations, and an invitation for human rights institutions may be found on the 60th Ordinary Session webpage. For more information on the African Human Rights System or advocacy before the African Human Rights System, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.
African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights 45th Ordinary Session
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) will hold its 45th Ordinary Session from May 8 to May 24, 2017, in Arusha, Tanzania. During its sessions, the AfCHPR holds hearings on the admissibility and merits of pending complaints alleging violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and any other international human rights treaty.
The AfCHPR is a regional human rights tribunal with advisory and contentious jurisdiction. Generally, the AfCHPR holds four ordinary sessions a year, but it may hold additional extraordinary sessions if the President of the Court calls for one. Individuals and non-governmental organizations with observer status before the ACHPR may bring cases directly to the AfCHPR if the relevant State has accepted the AfCHPR’s jurisdiction over individual complaints. As of April 2017, only eight States allow for the AfCHPR’s jurisdiction over individual complaints: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania, and Tunisia. Rwanda also previous allowed for jurisdiction over individual complaints but subsequently withdrew its declaration accepting the jurisdiction. [AfCHPR Press Release] The AfCHPR may also hear cases on the merits referred by the ACHPR or brought by a State party to the Protocol to the African Charter on the Establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights against any of the 30 States that have accepted the jurisdiction of the Court.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 162nd Extraordinary Period of Sessions
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold its 162nd Extraordinary Period of Sessions from May 22 to May 26, 2017, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The IACHR will hold public hearings on matters involving human rights violations in Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. [IACHR Press Release: 2017 Sessions]
The IACHR is a regional body in the Americas that promotes and protects human rights violations in the Member States of the Organization of American States. This is the second of five sessions that the IACHR has announced it will hold this year. The first took place in the United States in March, and the others will take place in Peru, Uruguay, and one additional location that is yet to be determined. [IACHR Press Release: 2017 Sessions]
Individuals and NGOs may submit requests for thematic hearings prior to sessions and the deadlines for doing so may be found on the IACHR calendar. The IACHR also accepts individual complaints on specific alleged human rights violations to the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights, and other regional human rights treaties.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights 118th Regular Session
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) will hold its 118th Regular Session in San Jose, Costa Rica on May 15 to May 26, 2017. See Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Session Dates. During its sessions, the IACtHR typically holds public hearings on the merits of individual complaints and deliberates on contentious cases alleging human rights violations.
The IACtHR is the judicial organ of the Inter-American human rights system that deliberates on cases referred to it by Sates parties or the IACHR. The cases reviewed by the Court are always first processed by the Commission. Cases before the Court may only be against Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) that have specifically accepted the Court’s contentious jurisdiction. There are 20 OAS members that have opted into the IACtHR’s contentious jurisdiction, which are Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Uruguay. See IJRC, Inter-American System.
European Committee of Social Rights 292nd Session
The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will hold its 292nd Session on May 9 to March 12, 2017. See Council of Europe, Sessions: calendar, agendas and synopsis. The ECSR assesses States’ compliance with the European Social Charter, which protects economic and social rights. During its sessions, the ECSR reviews collective complaints, examines national reports, and follows up on the Turin process, which aims to improve implementation of the Charter at the continental level.
According to the ECSR’s calendar for national reporting, it will consider State reports concerning the Charter rights on health, social security, and social protection from France, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, Ireland, and Finland throughout the 2017 calendar year. The ECSR will consider simplified reports on the same topic from the Netherlands, Sweden, Croatia, Norway, Slovenia, Cyprus, and the Czech Republic. Simplified reports focus on areas of non-conformity identified in the Committee’s previous conclusions. The Committee adopts and publishes conclusions at the end of the calendar year on each State’s compliance with the relevant provisions of the European Social Charter. The Committee’s conclusions may also include recommendations. See IJRC, European Committee of Social Rights.
The European Committee of Social Rights is a regional human rights body that oversees the protection of certain economic and social rights in most of Europe. In addition to the reporting system, the Committee also receives collective complaints against States on violations of the European Social Charter. Fifteen States have accepted the jurisdiction of the collective complaints procedure. See IJRC, European Committee of Social Rights.
Information, including a session agenda and synopsis, will be available on the ECSR’s sessions webpage.
European Court of Human Rights Hearings
A chamber of the ECtHR will hear Sharxhi and Others v. Albania on May 23, 2017, to determine whether Albania breached the applicants’ right to fair trial, guaranteed by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights; right to private life, guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention; right to the peaceful enjoyment of possessions, guaranteed by Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention; and right to an effective remedy, guaranteed by Article 13 of the Convention. See ECtHR, Sharxhi and Others v. Albania, no. 10613/16, lodged on 19 February 2016.
The case concerns the demolition of the applicants’ homes. The applicants allege that Albania demolished their flats and personal belongings despite an injunction ordering the authorities to allow applicants the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions. See id. A domestic administrative court found that the authorities’ actions were unlawful, and the applicants were awarded 1,580,712,322 Albanian leks (approximately 11,639,800 euros). See id. The State challenged the enforcement of the award, and the proceedings are currently pending before the Supreme Court, with a stay on enforcing the award. See id.
The ECtHR is a regional human rights judicial body based in Strasbourg, France. The ECtHR serves a complementary role to the European Committee of Social Rights, which oversees European States’ respect for social and economic rights. The Court has jurisdiction to decide complaints submitted by individuals and States concerning violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, which principally concerns civil and political rights.
For more information on UN treaty bodies; the Committee Against Torture; the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; the Committee on the Rights of the Child; the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Human Rights Committee; the Human Rights Council; UN special procedures; the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the European Court of Human Rights; the European Committee of Social Rights; the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights or for upcoming sessions and hearings, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.