Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Suggestions to the Treaty Body Chairs, agenda item 4(a)

The human rights treaty body chairs are meeting this week in Costa Rica. Here are some ideas, starting with their agenda item 4(a). 

 Item 4(a) General discussion and progress report under resolution 68/268

·      Effective metrics. The treaty body system can be more effectively managed as a system, and the General Assembly and other stakeholders can better appreciate and understand the nature of the system, if more detailed year-to-year statistics & indicators are maintained.  Sometimes metrics like these can also actually incentivize better compliance of those who are being measured.  Some careful thought should be given as to which metrics should be measured, and this list of metrics should probably be reevaluated and added to from year to year.

·      Examples. We urge you to collect statistics that will permit a year by year comparison of how the treaty body system is improving (or worsening) over time, especially with respect to state implementation and compliance. For example,
o   Ratifications. The number of ratifications as of each year end
o   Reservations.  The numbers of reservations made and withdrawn during the year
o   Non reporting. The numbers of non-reporting states expressed as a percentage of all reports and how much overdue they are (average delay period, and classifications like over 10 years late, numbers of initial reports overdue, etc.)
o   Reports and communications. Number of state reports and individual communications reviewed/completed each year, including the total number of countries represented by those totals
o   Government websites. The number of state parties which have now established an official government website to post information on their human rights treaty obligations, and have communicated that website information to the treaty body system (and that government link has now been added to a searchable database on the OHCHR treaty body website)
o   SNCRM. The numbers of state parties that have now announced & established a Standing National Reporting, Implementation & Coordination mechanism for their human rights obligations
o   Backlogs. Pending backlogs of state reports and individual communications each year for each treaty body
o   BW/FW views of the backlogs. The backlog should be measured both looking forwards and backwards (how far out in the calendar are reports being scheduled that are received today? How long have the reports been pending that were reviewed this session?). This will help identify whether the backlogs are getting better or worse.
o   NGO/NHRI. H ow many NGO and NHRI submissions were received for each state report? Which countries seem to be lightly covered or not covered at all by local NGO/NHRI submissions?
o   Follow up/COs. How timely have state responses been to the follow up items in the concluding observations? What percentage of states have not responded at all? Of those who responded, how many were late and/or provided inadequate responses?
o   Follow up/Views. How timely have state responses been to the recommendations made in individual communications? What percentage are not responsive or inadequate in response? 
o   General steps required/Views. Where an individual decision calls on a state party to take general steps to prevent further violations of the same nature from occurring to others, what steps has the government taken in this regard and what is the percentage of compliance to these types of requirements?
o   Response to prior COs. How many state party periodic reports responded to all of the prior recommendations of the Committee? What percentage was partial or no response to prior recommendations?
o   LOIPR. Of those who opted for the LOIPR procedure, how many submitted a report within the prescribed time period? How many LOIPR reports were received in the year? What percentage of the total numbers of reports does this represent?
o   Page and word limits. What was the average page length and word count of each state party report? How many were over the limit?
o   CO metrics. Measure the word length, numbers of recommendations, and other possible indicators of the concluding observations of each Committee for the year
o   Session weeks. Total number of treaty body weeks held during the year
o   Experts/counties represented. Total numbers of experts and countries represented on the treaty bodies each year
o   Harmonization efforts. A list of the harmonization efforts being addressed and an indication in a table format or other format, of which ones have now been adopted by which treaty bodies
o   Common core reports. The updating (or lack thereof) of the common core reports for all state parties
o   Collaborative activities. The number of coordinated efforts by two or more treaty bodies, or by a treaty body and another UN mechanism, to issue a joint press release, joint statement, joint general comment or other similar reference document

·      Agenda item on implementation. We would also like to see the Treaty Body Chairs establish a standing agenda item on implementation, with the idea being to discuss the status of implementation and ways to improve implementation under such agenda item. NGOs should be invited to speak and submit proposals. Each treaty body should also be encouraged to establish such a standing item on their agendas, with similar NGO impact.

·      Jurisprudence databases. The current jurisprudence databases are not being systematically updated.  Views (decisions) should be added to each of the current databases, in addition to follow up actions/reports, inquiry reports, and early warning/urgent action (EWUA) communications of CERD.  Search functions should be improved so that one can find a case by searching topic, keyword, phrase, treaty article number, country, claimant’s name, date of decision, and follow up actions taken by the state party.

·      Table of pending cases. The table of pending cases that is maintained by CESCR should be considered by each of the treaty bodies who now have an individual complaint mechanism.

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