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COMMITTEE ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES OPENS ITS THIRD SESSION
29 October 2012

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances this morning opened its third session, hearing an address by Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Director of the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and adopting its agenda and programme of work.

Mr. Ndiaye reiterated the support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the work of the Committee and welcomed the intended discussion on the responsibility of States and the role of non-State actors in enforced disappearances, which with other thematic priorities demonstrated the willingness and determination of the Committee to apply the Convention in light of broader viewpoints and with a strong victim perspective.  Mr. Ndiaye encouraged the Committee to consider the possibility of engaging with relevant national and international actors dealing with transitional justice processes in States parties to the Convention and commended its involvement in the treaty bodies strengthening process by endorsing without hesitation the Dublin II outcome. 

Emmanuel Decaux, Chairperson of the Committee, said that the third session marked a transition from the previous two sessions which were technical in nature and that a number of concrete situations were already on the Committee’s radar.  The Committee needed to deepen its reflection on a number of issues, starting with the consideration of vulnerable groups, continue its discussions on non-State actors and consider the decisions of regional courts such as the European Court for Human Rights, which offered interesting avenues for reflection.  A solid basis for cooperation must be established, particularly with the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, with which relations and linkages must be clarified with full respect for the competence of each body; one suggestion was to define “blocks of competence”, whereas the Working Group would concentrate on third States and the Committee would have the competence for States parties to the Convention.

The Committee held a minute of silence in remembrance of victims of enforced disappearances.

The next public meeting of the Committee will be at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 30 October when it will participate in an event marking the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Disappearances organized by the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances.

Opening Statements

BACRE WALY NDIAYE, Director of the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in his opening statement drew the attention of the Committee to some of the efforts of the Office to support its priorities.  In the area of the fight against enforced disappearances and in realizing universal ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, work focused on supporting States efforts to ratify the Convention, training and capacity building for States, and capacity building and awareness raising about the Convention.  The High Commissioner had personally encouraged the ratification of the Convention during her missions to Guatemala, Pakistan and Algeria.  Concerning the adoption of technical instruments that would allow the Committee to work expeditiously, the Office had been impressed by the swift adoption of the Rules of Procedure, the Guidelines for States reporting and the decision on the procedure relating to article 30 on the urgent action requests.  During this session, the Committee would continue concentrating on the methodology of its work in relation to the consideration of the reports submitted by States parties which would be a key factor in avoiding the accumulation of backlog witnessed in other Committees. 

Mr. Ndiaye encouraged the Committee to take full advantage of the suggestions included in the High Commissioner’s report on strengthening the treaty bodies, which included a range of measures, and welcomed the intended discussion on the responsibility of States and the role of non-State actors in enforced disappearances.  The choice of thematic discussions on trafficking and enforced disappearances, and on the principle of non-refoulement, expulsion and extradition under article 16 of the Convention, demonstrated the willingness and determination of the Committee to apply the Convention in light of broader viewpoints and with a strong victim perspective.  Mr. Ndiaye encouraged the Committee to consider the possibility of engaging with relevant national and international actors dealing with transitional justice processes in States parties to the Convention and commended its involvement in the treaty bodies strengthening process by endorsing without hesitation the Dublin II outcome.

EMMANUEL DECAUX, Committee Chairperson, said that the first two sessions of the Committee had been short and technical in nature and had produced the tools to ensure the efficient implementation of the Convention, which included Rules of Procedure, Guidelines for State reporting and the decision on the procedure relating to article 30 on the urgent action requests.  In less than a year, commendable progress had been achieved in putting in place mechanisms for the implementation of the Convention; practical implementation of those procedures must be marked in 2013.  This included respect for the calendar established by the Convention and submission of 21 State reports before the end of December 2012.  The working of the Committee would be the best advertisement for the Convention and its ratification among States.  So far, 36 States had ratified the Convention, with Peru and Mauritania being the latest two, while States had systematically received recommendations to ratify the Convention during the new Universal Periodic Review cycle in the Human Rights Council.  Four additional ratifications of the Convention were expected soon and all this gave a solid basis for progress in the work of the Committee, said Mr. Decaux. 

The third session of the Committee marked a transition and a number of concrete situations were already on the Committee’s radar.  The Committee needed to deepen its reflection on a number of issues, starting with the consideration of vulnerable groups; this was important in the context of the upcoming general comment of the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances on women and children in relation to the 1992 Declaration.  The Committee also needed to continue its discussions on non-State actors and consider the decisions of regional courts such as the European Court for Human Rights, which offered interesting avenues for reflection.  The third session was also important to establish a solid base for cooperation, particularly with the Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, with which relations and linkages must be clarified with full respect for the competence of each body.  During the interactive dialogue with States in New York, it was suggested to define “blocks of competence”, whereas the Working Group would concentrate on third States and the Committee would have the competence for States parties to the Convention. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

CED12/006E