Thursday, June 25, 2015

Treaty body chairs meeting, item 6

Here are my comments to item 6 on the agenda. 

Item 6 Consultations in Costa Rica (6(a) NHRIs and 6(d) civil society)

·      Include summary of comments in final report. I hope the Committee’s final report includes a summary of the comments offered in the consultations with local civil society representatives

·      Option to submit comments privately? Were local civil society organisations given an opportunity to provide their comments in a private meeting on request? I note that this item 6 of the agenda and the accompanying program of work schedule indicates that consultations with local human rights institutions, the Inter American bodies, diplomats and NHRIs were all to be conducted in closed meetings. Only the consultation with civil society was in an open, public session. If any civil society organisations preferred a private briefing I hope they were given that opportunity in the session.

·      Priorities for NGOs. What issues do NGOs in the region feel the treaty body system should be prioritizing? [the following items come from an informal NGO survey that I conducted in 2014; a similar survey will be done in 2015]
  • Better scheduling announcements so it is more clear when events concerning your country are coming up
  • More focus on implementation
  • More time, space and consideration given to NGO input
  • More practical information on "know your rights" and "how to implement treaty body recommendations"
  • More information on the current status of follow up of particular concluding observations and Views (case decisions) with your country
  • Improved webcasting
  • Improve individual complaint mechanisms and the information on how to use them
  • more effectively drafted concluding observations
  • Improve the questioning practice and the time allocation between states and committee members during the review of reports
  • more focus on late and missing reports, and more criticism of reports which fail to respond to the issues raised but are over the page limits
  • better UN press release coverage
  • Other (please specify)

·        Treaty body best practices – NGO perspective. See NGO wish list that I posted under item 4(d)

·        Implementation. I note that the subject of implementation does not appear anywhere in this year’s meeting agenda (other than in the context of implementing Resolution 68/268). However, implementation of treaty body recommendations by states parties should be of primary importance. I hope the Committee devotes some space in its final report to the topic of implementation and makes it a more prominent part of its agenda next year.

Implementation guidance. For lack of any better part of the agenda to place this discussion under, I offer here an idea for providing a better reference for states parties, NGOs and other stakeholders, to better follow the topic of implementation.  The proposal is to create a space on each Committee’s website that would list all relevant “implementation guidance” documents that the Committee refers to in its various concluding observations, general comments and other statements and reports. I note for example that CESCR often refers to a number of specialized documents with reference to particular recommendations. 

For example [Implementation guidance documents, CESCR]:
·       General comment 3 on the nature of States parties’ obligations under the Covenant, especially with respect to the periodic evaluation of budget allocations for human rights based programmes (“maximum available resources’)
·       General comment 4 on the right to adequate housing
·       General comment 5 on persons with disabilities
·       General comment 7 on the right to adequate housing: forced evictions
·       General comment 9 on domestic application of the Covenant
·       General comment 10 on the role of national human rights institutions
·       The Paris Principles on establishment of an independent, adequately resources national human rights institution
·       General comment 12 on the right to adequate food
·       Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security, adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2004
·       General comment 13 on the right to education
·       General comment 14 on the right to the highest attainable standard of health
·       General comment 15 on the right to water
·       The Committee’s statement on the right to sanitation (2010 or 2011)
·       General comment 16 on the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights
·       General comment 18 on the right to work
·       ILO conventions 87 and 98 on labour unions and trade associations
·       General comment 19 on the right to social security
·       The ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) – relating to evaluating the adequacy of social security programs
·       The Committee’s Statement on Social Protection Floors, entitled “An essential element of the right to social security and of the sustainable development goals.” Adopted at the 54th session, March 6, 2015.  Issued as doc no. E/C.12/2015/1, dated 15 April 2015
·       General comment 20 on non-discrimination
·       Technical guidance on the application of a human rights-based approach to the implementation of policies and programmes to reduce preventable maternal morbidity and mortality (A/HRC/21/22).
·       The Committee’s statement on poverty and the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (2001)
·       Conceptual and methodological framework for human rights indicators developed by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (see HRI/MC/2008/3).
·       Statement on Ebola at the 53rd session (November 2014) (
·       Letter of 16 May 2012 to states parties on the protection of economic, social & cultural rights when austerity measures are taken in a financial crisis (available at the Committee website, under the heading “Statements and open letters”).

A similar list could be compiled for each of the other treaty bodies.  It would be very useful to list each of these documents, with a link to each, organized alphabetically by topic, in an easy-to-find location on the Committee website (perhaps you could poll the NGOs present at your consultation on whether this would be of assistance to them in their advocacy work).

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