Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Treaty body chairs meeting, item 4(b)

As mentioned earlier, the human rights treaty body chairpersons are meeting this week in Costa Rica. Here are some thoughts I had on item 4(b) of their agenda. 

Item 4(b) Update on the guidelines on the independence and impartiality of members of the human rights treaty bodies

·      Addis Ababa. Which treaty bodies have adopted the Addis Ababa guidelines? It is not clear from information available as to whether all have now adopted the guidelines.  I would recommend the OHCHR add something on the treaty bodies website clearly identifying this.

·      Implementation/monitoring procedures. I note that Resolution 68/268 has asked the treaty body system to report on how it is monitoring and implementing the Addis Ababa guidelines.  I would suggest that the procedure be clear for NGOs on how to file suggestions or concerns regarding the guidelines and that anonymous submissions be permitted. An annual report indicating whether any such comments had been submitted in the past year, what actions were taken, and what if any general discussion has occurred regarding updating or supplementing the guidelines is also recommended.

·      Nomination/election process. Part of the emphasis on independence and impartiality should be put on the state party nomination and election process for new elections.  The treaty bodies should make suggestions from year to year, on how to improve these processes, and the report on implementation could then include a summary as to what if any actions were taken by the state parties in response to these suggestions.

·      Non-reporting states that nominate their candidates for elections. In some cases there are state parties who have nominated and successfully elected experts from their country even though they have never submitted a report to that treaty body or are chronically late in submitting their reports.  In one Committee studied this year 6 of the 18 countries that have experts elected on the Committee are late in submitting their next report, with one country being over 15 years late.  Statistics like these, if not already being reported, should be systematically collected and reported to the state party elections process so that state parties (and ECOSOC in the case of CESC) can hopefully make more informed decisions when electing new members.

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