Human Rights Committee adopts measures to guarantee predictability for State reviews
Published on 25 Jul 2019, 03:45 PM
Human Rights Committee - 126th session - July 2019
Human Rights Committee and States discussed Treaty Body strengthening ahead of 2020
The Human Rights Committee held a meeting with States Parties to discuss the strengthening of the review procedures, ahead of the 2020 UN Treaty Bodies (TBs) reform. 67 States were present at the meeting. The following States spoke during the meeting: Paraguay, Spain, France, Iran, Tunisia, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Pakistan, Costa Rica, Egypt and the United States.
The discussion took into account, among other documents, the shared vision document adopted by the Chairs of the TBs in June 2019, as well as the non-paper drafted by Costa Rica and 44 other States on the matter.
Key elements proposed by the Committee
During the meeting, the following aspects were understood as fundamental for the reform process:
- Adequate resources for staffing are required to address the backlog in individual communications;
- Simplified reporting must be a permanent feature in its procedures, and encourages all States to report through this procedure. Simplified reporting will be introduced for initial reports as well;
- Increased coordination is required with other TBs. It has already started a pilot program of coordination with the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
- The Committee plans to move in 2020 to a predictable review cycle, to improve predicatbility in reporting and ensure regular reporting by all States. This would be through a 5 year review process, and a 3 year interval after one review process. Follow up to concluding observations would be a part of the reporting process.
- Other ideas were discussed, such as in situ reviews, dialogues with States, and clustered reviews.
Most States agreed on the need to strengthen the Human Rights Committee and the rest of the Treaty Body System. Moreover, there was general consensus on the application of the Simplified Reporting Procedure, Among the most important statements and concerns expressed by the States are the following:
- Paraguay and Japan focused on adopting measures to avoid overlapping between Committees. They particularly asked that the calendar bears in mind the other reports State must present to other TBs and UPR. Switzerland introduced the idea of clustering recommendations of the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic and Social Rights;
- Tunisia stressed the importance of assuring implementation of recommendations and the follow up by the TBs;
- Pakistan and Costa Rica raised their support for the simplified reporting procedure. The United States further questioned how this would impact the calendar of already existing reviews dated.
- Pakistan also stressed on the usefulness of incorporating technology into the TBs, and allowing States to, in some opportunities, present reviews via video conference.
Draft decision adopted by the Committee
In the context of the discussion, the Human Rights Committee adopted a Draft decision on additional measures to simplify the reporting procedure and increase predictability which provides:
- Moving in 2020 to a predictable review cycle in order to improve predictability in reporting and to ensure regular reporting by all States parties;
- Shift from an opt-in model of simplified reporting procedure to an opt-out model;
- Introduce the simplified reporting procedure for initial reports. This will require the modification to Rule 73 of the Committee's rules of procedures;
- Continue its efforts to align its methods of work and the lists of issues it produces with other TBs.
This decision will be reflected in the Committee's annual report to be issued in 2020.
Civil Society Engagement
Civil Society has had an important role in the development of the discussion on stregthening the TBs, ahead of 2020 review. In early July, representatives from national, regional and international NGOs from all over the world gathered in Geneva to discuss mechanisms to strengthen UN TBs, looking towards the 2020 review of UN TBs , in hopes of achieving a common position and a shared strategy for the review process.