II. Increase ratification and enhance implementation of ICCPR

Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party had won the 2020 elections, was arrested on 1 February 2021 following a coup d'état that returned the Tatmadaw to power

Advocate and engage key stakeholders for the ratification of the ICCPR and its two Optional Protocols

In Myanmar, the Centre was planning to continue its multi-year engagement with national stakeholders, assisting their efforts and enhancing the process for ICCPR ratification. Building upon progress thus far and the results of the national election in November 2020, various activities were planned to support the signing of the ICCPR by Myanmar, and to build capacity of national stakeholders to constructively engage with Treaty Bodies and other UN Human Rights Mechanisms, in particular the 3rd UPR and initial review by CESCR.

]However, the coup d’état in Myanmar on 1 February 2021 drastically changed the situation of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Myanmar. In support of the people of Myanmar and the resistance movement, we reoriented the focus of our engagement toward engagement toward the restoration of the rule of law, human rights, and democratic governance of the country through documentation and advocacy calling for urgent actions from States, international and regional bodies. Partnerships were also established with human rights defenders at the regional and international levels for co-ordinated action, in which the Centre played a lead role in targeted advocacy at the UN level, in particular at the Human Rights Council and its subsidiary bodies.

Engaging visual artists to improve visibility of the Human Rights Committee's recommendations at the national level

One of the most consistent observations made by the Centre is that the recommendations made by UN Treaty Bodies are not widely known to the general public, especially in large and decentralised countries. To address this, the Centre has produced and distributed Guides and other content designed to enable easy dissemination of the Human Rights Committee’s priority recommendations to civil society and authorities.

The Centre produced content for Togo, Kenya, Mauritania, and Senegal in 2021, in the form of posters outlining the Committee’s priority recommendations immediately after the examination by the Human Rights Committee. As with prior resources, these posters were illustrated by local artists and explained issues and recommendations that are often technical and complex in a simple and culturally appropriate way. The dissemination of posters at the national level and in online media helped to raise awareness of the human rights issues of concern in the relevant countries and to legitimise the work undertaken by national CSOs. We also see the posters as useful tools in guiding the State in deciding which issues to prioritise.

To further assist with the dissemination of recommendations, the Centre has also developed country specific databases that compile recommendations across all UN human rights bodies. The databases allow users to search and filter for specific topics and themes, and display recommendations using interactive graphics to increase accessibility. The Centre has developed databases for DR Congo, Belarus, Vietnam and Tajikistan, and will soon release websites for Bolivia, Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru.

Supporting the role of the parliamentarians in the follow-up to the Committee’s recommendations

CCPR meating in Congo
CCPR Centre staffs and members of the Parliament meet for consulations on Treaty Bodies' priority recommendations in Kinshasa, DR Congo, in September 2021.

Since its inception, the Centre has worked extensively with representatives of State parties in order to improve the promotion of and respect for civil and political rights. hrough this exercise, we have observed that parliamentarians (MPs) also play a key role in the promotion of and respect for human rights at three key levels. Firstly, it is the responsibility of those involved in legislative procedures to adopt specific recommendations by the Human Rights Committee in line with international standards. Secondly, the legislature exerts a significant degree of influence on the adoption of budgets, which serve to ensure that there are sufficient resources allocated towards human rights issues. Finally, the legislature also has a key role in monitoring and evaluating governmental progress, and ensuring the State is accountable to its citizens. In 2021, the Centre therefore decided to strengthen its work with parliamentarians in many countries, including the DR Congo, Niger, and Togo.

In Niger and in Togo, the Centre worked to amplify the Human Rights Committee’s priority recommendations by organising consultations with parliamentarians on draft legislation on the protection of human rights defenders, and urged them to enact laws which increase access to protection. A similar exercise was also carried out in DR Congo, where the Centre organised consultations with the Congolese parliamentarians in collaboration with the Human Rights Commission (CNDH-DRC), with the intention of increasing their awareness of the UN Human Rights system. Around 60 Members of Parliament participated in these exchanges which took place at the National Assembly in Kinshasa. Bamariam Koita, keynote speaker and former member of the Human Rights Committee, reinforced the role that parliamentarians can play in implementing recommendations made by the Treaty Bodies. The second and third consultations addressed priority themes such as the prevention of torture and the participation of women in public affairs.

The consultations were well received by the parliamentarians, as evidenced by the reflection of Ms. Christelle Vuenga, Chair of the Gender, Family and Children Committee of the Parliament, who noted: “We greatly appreciated these lively exchanges on key issues for our country. With the support of the Centre, we are committed to following up on what was discussed during these three days to make progress on these themes.” To allow MPs from different countries to benefit from each other’s experience, the Centre also plans to extend these consultations to representatives from across the country over the coming months, by organising a sharing of experience between parliamentarians from different states in the region. As underlined by Mr. Moligi, President of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, “Even if each country is different and we have to take into account the specificities of the DR Congo knowing what has been done in neighbouring countries, the challenges they have faced, and the solutions found will certainly help us in our approach".

Impact story

Supporting Parlamentarians in their work to uphold civil and political rights

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Interview with Hon. Prof. IYANANIO Simon-Pierre MOLIGI, President of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights

Why is it important to work with parliamentarians on civil and political rights issues? What role can they play in implementing the priority recommendations of UN bodies?

In their constituencies, MPs are considered the primary defenders of citizens' rights. Whenever citizens are victims of human rights violations, national MPs are among the first people they call to ask them to intervene. It is more important than ever that MPs are sufficiently informed and trained on human rights, so that their interventions are based on a good knowledge of the human rights they are called to defend every day.

As a national representative, the National Assembly includes members who have worked in sectors where the subtleties of human rights were not addressed. It is important to train them, to bring them up to speed, which some MPs desperately need.

Finally, the implementation of several priority recommendations of the United Nations requires the adoption of certain laws on the one hand; with follow-up and monitoring on the other. National MPs vote both on laws and on the monitoring of government action. They need to be well equipped to perform both tasks.

What were the main conclusions of the 3 days of consultations? How were they received by parliamentarians?

If I must mention two main takeaways, I would firstly note that these consultations highlighted the need for national MPs to be involved in the full UPR and UN Treaty Bodies’ processes (preparation, reporting and monitoring of the implementation), and to undergo more comprehensive training on human rights issues (history, categories, reference texts etc.).

Overall, the three days of consultations organised in September were very well received by the members of the Standing Committee on Human Rights of the National Assembly of the DR Congo. The Centre has an demonstrated extensive experience in supporting MPs, and the workshop organised in Kinshasa in 2021 showed that the Centre can provide MPs with consultants who have knowledge of human rights issues and a methodology adapted to their circumstances. The Commission hopes and expects that the CCPR will support it in carrying out the activities foreseen in its 2022 planning.