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HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE DISCUSSES ITS WORKING METHODS
19 July 2012

The Human Rights Committee this afternoon discussed the report of the chairpersons of the human rights treaty bodies on their twenty third meeting and the guidelines on independence and impartiality of treaty bodies’ members.  The Committee was also briefed on the outcomes of the meeting of its Members with judges of the European Court of Human Rights.

Zonke Zanele Majodina, Committee Chairperson, said that the Chairpersons of the human rights treaty bodies met in Addis Ababa from 25 to 29 June 2012.  This was the second meeting outside of Geneva, with a view to bring treaty bodies closer to the implementation level, raise awareness about their work at regional levels, and strengthen linkages and enhance synergies between international and regional human rights mechanisms and institutions.  The Chairs held a videoconference with two co-facilitators of the intergovernmental process on strengthening of the human rights treaty bodies and discussed the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on that issue and the draft guidelines on independence and impartiality of treaty bodies’ members.  They also met with African human rights mechanisms and with Cabinet members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.  The Chairperson expressed regret over lack of interest from the media during the press conference that was held at the end of this meeting.

Discussions on the report of the High Commissioner on strengthening the treaty body system focused mainly on the comprehensive reporting calendar, the method of compilation of the list of issues before presentation of States’ reports and the use of technology in presentation of those reports.  Chairpersons also discussed the method of State review in the absence of a report and issues relating to translation and page limits for documents.  They decided that each treaty body should examine thoroughly the High Commissioner’s recommendations and noted that some treaty bodies were already implementing certain recommendations, such as simplified reporting.  The implementation of these recommendations would be reviewed annually and would be on the agenda of the next year’s meeting, the Chairs agreed.

The videoconference with the two co-facilitators of the intergovernmental process did not bring positive results that were hoped for, noted Ms. Zanele Majodina, as it appeared that no additional resources could be allocated to treaty bodies.  The co-facilitators felt that the Committees were not sufficiently impartial with some States and that the submission of periodic reports was a burden on States parties. 

Substantive discussions between Chairpersons took place on the draft guidelines on the independence and impartiality of members of treaty bodies.  Meetings with representatives of the African Union and regional organizations were also organized, which enabled fruitful discussions on the optimal use of mechanisms for reporting and individual complaints.

Following the Chairperson’s presentation, Committee Members discussed the draft guidelines on the independence and impartiality of members of treaty bodies and questioned the value of working unilaterally on this document that was destined to all treaty bodies.  The treaty body system would be strengthened if the effort to systematize practices produced a set of common values they notes and agreed to continue with the consideration of this issue at the next session.

The Committee was then informed about outcomes of the meeting of its Members with judges of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which helped to address issues of substance and procedure.  The discussions were fruitful, particularly with regard to the application of article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on equality before the law and prohibition of discrimination and General Comment No. 34 of the Committee on Article 19 on freedom of opinion and expression.  Participants felt that the meeting was a success and other similar meetings would be held in the future.

The next public meeting of the Committee will be tomorrow on 20th July 2012 at 4 p.m. when it will continue discussing its working methods.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CT12/010E