Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 1: getting organized

It's the first day of the 9th session of the Inter-Committee Meeting of human rights treaty bodies. A new chairperson is elected, Ms. Naela Gabr from CEDAW (the Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women). Two vice chairs are also chosen, Ms. Yanghee Lee from the Committee on the Rights of the Child and Mr. Mohammed Al Tarawneh from the newest treaty body, the Committee on Rights of Disabled Persons.

Opening speeches are presented by Mr. Ibrahim Salama, head of the UN High Commissioners Office Treaties Branch, the outgoing chairperson Ms. Fatimata-Binta Victoire Dah, and later in the day, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay. Emphasis was put on the continuing need for the treaty bodies to harmonize their practices and improve their effectiveness.

The meeting is being held in the Palais Wilson in Geneva. The Inter-Committee is composed of 27 treaty body members, 3 representatives from each of the 9 current treaty bodies. In addition there are about 25 other persons in the room, including Secretariat staff, NGO representatives and representatives from other UN agencies (UNESCO and the office of Refugees, UNHCR).

The Committee will have a packed program of work this session. They meet for 3 days (followed by the chairpersons' meeting Thursday and Friday). All of tomorrow's program has been dedicated to a meeting with representatives from states parties. Then they will finish up on Wednesday and adopt their report. NGOs are able to speak throughout the agenda items but this time, since most of today's work was dedicated either to the administrative matters of electing officers and adopting the agenda and program of work, or listening to opening speeches, or preparing for the states party meeting all of tomorrow, there was very little time for NGOs to be able to speak. NGOs are also not able to make presentations during the all day meeting with states parties tomorrow.

Penny Parker

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