Saturday, July 19, 2014

Latest ratifications of UN human rights treaties, including the State of Palestine

There have been 38 new ratifications* of human rights treaties and various treaty protocols so far in 2014.  This is slightly above the pace of 2013 when there were a total of 46 ratifications for the entire year, but it is consistent with prior years before that (e.g., 59 total ratifications in 2012).


Probably the most significant news so far is the first ratifications from the State of Palestine. They have now ratified seven of the core human rights treaties plus two important protocols, as of April 2014, namely

  • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racism (CERD)
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
  • Optional Protocol to the CRC on child soldiers (OPAC)
  • Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
  • Optional Protocol to the CRPD (accepts individual complaints)
However, except for the complaint mechanism for disabled persons (CRPD), the State of Palestine has not yet elected to join any of the other individual complaint mechanisms available under these treaties.

The first reports to be submitted by the Palestinian Authority will be due 
  • May 2015 for CERD, CEDAW, CRC and CAT
  • July 2015 for CCPR
  • April 2016 for CESCR  
  • May 2016 for CRPD and OPAC

Other ratifications and withdrawn reservations

Here is a list of the other ratifications so far in 2014, grouped by treaty:

Optional Protocol to CESCR (accepts the individual complaint mechanism):
  • Belgium (ratified May 20)
  • Cape Verde (ratified June 23)
  • Finland (ratified Jan 31)
  • Gabon (ratified April 1)

Optional Protocol to CAT (accepts national preventive system against torture, including international visits of places of detention): 
  • Greece (ratified February 11)
  • Lithuania (ratified January 20)
  • Mozambique (ratified July 1)

Optional Protocol to the CRC (accepts the individual complaint mechanism) (OPIC):
  • Belgium (May 30)
  • Costa Rica (January 14)

Optional Protocol to the CRC on the sale/pornography of children (OPSC):
  • Ethiopia (March 25)

Optional Protocol to the CRC on child soldiers (OPAC): 
  • Burundi (May 22)
  • Estonia (February 12)
  • Ethiopia (May 14)
  • St. Lucia (January 15)

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD):
  • Andorra (March 11)
  • Angola (May 19)
  • Cote d'Ivoire (January 10)
  • Georgia (March 13)
  • Japan (January 20)
  • Switzerland (April 15

Optional Protocol to the CRPD (accepts individual complaints to the CRPD treaty): 
  • Andorra (March 11)
  • Angola (May 19)
  • Burundi (May 22)
  • Gabon (June 26)

Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED): 
  • Portugal has ratified both the treaty and the complaint mechanism under article 31 (Jan 27)

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): 

While there are no new ratifications to CEDAW (other than the State of Palestine mentioned above), it is noteworthy that both the governments of Iraq (on February 18) and Tunisia (on April 17) have notified the UN treaty authorities that they have withdrawn certain of their prior reservations to CEDAW. 

Next steps

Each new ratification means the country concerned must file its first report on its human rights track record within one or two years, depending on the treaty. 

In addition, in those cases where acceptance of an individual complaint mechanism has been ratified, complaints may be submitted by human rights victims to the relevant treaty body for events occurring after the complaint mechanism went into effect for such country. In addition, each complaint procedure requires that the individual exhaust available remedies in the country before submitting a complaint to the international treaty body.  For more information, please consult the UN human rights treaty site on complaint procedures

The next major event in the annual calendar is the UN treaty event held in late September each year during the General Assembly session.  Countries are encouraged to ratify instruments that they have not yet joined.  Usually this event results in a spike of ratifications, often equal to 50% of the entire year's activity. 

*please note that I have used the term "ratify" in this article when sometimes the technical term would be more properly "accede".  In both cases the treaty is ratified but in the case of an "accession" the country involved has simply ratified the instrument without going through the interim, optional step of signing it (which implies an intention to seek formal ratification).  Thus whether ratified or acceded to, the legal effect is the same -- the country concerned becomes legally bound by the terms of the treaty. 

No comments:

Post a Comment