June 2017: UN Treaty Bodies, Human Rights Council in Session
In the month of June, several United Nations bodies and experts as well as a regional court will hold sessions, conduct country visits, or convene a hearing. Three United Nations treaty bodies will meet throughout June to review States’ compliance with their treaty obligations related to the rights of the child; economic, social, and cultural rights; and torture. The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold its 35th Session to consider various thematic and country-specific reports from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations independent experts, and the Secretary-General. Additionally, the Human Rights Council will host discussions on topics related to public health, unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents, the human rights of women, and the Council’s technical cooperation and capacity-building. Two United Nations working groups will conduct country visits to explore the issues of human rights and transnational corporations, and enforced or involuntary disappearances. Regionally, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will hear a case concerning allegations of torture and the right to a fair trial.
The UN treaty body sessions and the public hearings of the European Court may be watched via UN Web TV and the European Court’s website, respectively. To view human rights bodies’ past and future activities, visit IJRC’s Hearings & Sessions Calendar.
Committee on the Rights of the Child 75th Session and 77th Pre-Sessional Working Group
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 considered the State reports from Antigua and Barbuda, Bhutan, Lebanon, Mongolia, Qatar, and Romania and will consider the report from Cameroon on May 30, 2017, 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 and accompanying alternative reports from civil society, 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.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child will also hold its 77th Pre-Sessional Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland from June 6 to June 9, 2017. According to the 77th Pre-Sessional Working Group webpage, the Committee will consider State reports from Guatemala, Marshall Islands, Palau, Panama, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Spain, and Sri Lanka on compliance with the Convention. At the pre-sessional working group meeting, the working group adopts lists of issues prior to reporting for each State to respond to before the full Committee reviews their report at a later session.
To view pre-session working group documents, including each State’s report, visit the 77th Pre-Sessional Working Group webpage.
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. To follow the session online, visit the live webcast.
Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture 32nd Session
According to the Office of the High Commissioner’s events calendar, the Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading treatment of Punishment (SPT) will hold its 32nd Session in Geneva, Switzerland from June 12 to June 16, 2017. The session is closed to the public, but the SPT does publish annual reports on its activities. Its sessions generally provide its 25 members a chance to report on and discuss upcoming and recent activities related to specific countries, regions, and thematic priorities.
Human Rights Council 35th Session
The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold its 35th Session in Geneva, Switzerland from June 6 to June 23, 2017. According to the session’s list of reports, the Human Rights Council will consider more than 75 thematic and country-specific reports from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the OHCHR, United Nations independent experts, and the United Nations Secretary-General. According to the agenda, the Human Rights Council has particularly prioritized the promotion of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, including the right to development; the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories; and the theme of racism, xenophobia, and related intolerance, in light of the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The country-specific reports include reports on Eritrea and Belarus, among others, and the Council will also hear oral updates on other countries, including on the Syrian Arab Republic and Myanmar, among others.
According to the agenda and the programme of work, the Human Rights Council will convene several panel discussions during the 35th Session on the right to health, the human rights of unaccompanied migrant children, eliminating violence against women, women’s rights in relation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and capacity building in the Human Rights Council. The first two panels will take place in the morning of June 8 and the afternoon of June 9, respectively. The panels on women’s rights will be held on June 13 throughout the day, and the panel on capacity building will be held on June 20 in the afternoon.
According to the agenda, the Human Rights Council will consider the reports of the OHCHR on the Voluntary Fund for Participation in the Universal Periodic Review and the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the Implementation of the Universal Periodic Review.
Only 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. NGOs accredited as observers may attend and observe the Council’s proceedings that are open to NGOs, submit written statements, make oral interventions, participate in debates, dialogues, and discussions, and engage in side events. More information on accreditation and participation in the Human Rights Council’s sessions, visit its page on NGO participation.
According to the information note for national human rights institutions (NHRIs), NHRIs with “A” status accreditation may participate in the session and may submit documentation, including written statements, relevant to the session. The deadline for submitting written statements for this session was May 25, 2017. NHRIs that would like to make an oral intervention must send a request to Katharina Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org and must register the statement online after May 29, 2017. Those wishing to submit a video statement must comply with the detailed requirements available in the information note. NHRIs may request accreditation prior to this session by submitting a letter of request to Biljana Pesit at email@example.com.
To view session documents, including State party reports, submissions from civil society, and the Committee’s programme of work, visit the 35th Session webpage. To follow the session online, visit the live webcast.
United Nations Special Procedures Country Visits
Two working groups will conduct country visits during the month of June.
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.
The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is scheduled to visit the Gambia from June 12 to June 19. 2017.
During their country visits, these groups of 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.
European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber Hearing
The Grand Chamber will hear oral arguments as to whether Switzerland breached the applicant’s right to a fair trial, and to access a court, guaranteed by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, when a Swiss court declined jurisdiction to hear his case. See ECtHR, Naït-Liman v. Switzerland, no. 51357/07, lodged on 21 June 2016.
The applicant in this case claims that he was arbitrarily detained and tortured in Tunis, Tunisia under the authority of the then Minister of Interior of Tunisia. See id. at para. 9. The applicant subsequently acquired asylum in Switzerland and filed a criminal complaint against the then Minister of Interior. See id. at para. 13. When the criminal proceedings were dropped, the applicant lodged a civil complaint with a district court in Switzerland, which ultimately dismissed the claims on the grounds that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. See id. at paras. 16-18. The case was dismissed upon appeal as well. See id. at paras. 20-22.
Invoking the European Convention, the applicant lodged a complaint with the ECtHR, which, in a chamber judgment, held that there had been no violation of Article 6. The ECtHR ruled that the court’s refusal to hear the case was justified under Article 6 because first, “ensuring the proper administration of justice and the effectiveness of domestic judicial decisions” is a legitimate aim; applying universal jurisdiction for civil cases, the Court opined, could lead to issues such as the enforcement of decisions and interfering with another State’s affairs. See id. at para. 107. Second, the Court found the refusal to hear the case justified because it was proportional to the legitimate aim. See id. at paras. 108-14. The applicant requested that the case be referred to the ECtHR Grand Chamber, and on November 28, 2016, the Grand Chamber Panel accepted the applicant’s request. [ECtHR Press Release]
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 the European Court of Human Rights; UN treaty bodies; the Committee Against Torture; the Committee on the Rights of the Child; the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Human Rights Council; and UN special procedures or for upcoming sessions and hearings, visit IJRC’s Online Resource Hub.