ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

News & Media

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE OPENS ONE HUNDREDTH AND SEVENTH SESSION
Observes Minute of Silence in Memory of Stephane Hessel, Elects Nigel Rodley as Chairperson
11 March 2013

The Human Rights Committee this morning opened its one hundredth and seventh session, electing Nigel Rodley as Chairperson and a new Bureau, adopting its agenda and hearing an address by Jane Connors, Chief of the Special Procedures Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Ms. Connors welcomed the new Committee members: Kheshoe Parsad Matadeen, Victor Manuel Rodriguez-Rescia, Anja Seibert-Fohr, Yuval Shany and Konstantine Vardzelashvili. The United Nations and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) faced system-wide budgetary cuts. Of the $ 100 million to be cut from the United Nations Secretariat, $ 4.5 million would likely be drawn from OHCHR’s regular budget. Although 70 percent would be in staff costs, she said the Human Rights Committee secretariat would not be affected at this time. Ms. Connors updated the meeting on the General Assembly’s intergovernmental process on strengthening the treaty body system. Issues discussed included documentation and conference services, the simplified reporting procedure, webcasting and videoconferencing, and the nomination and election process. The next meeting would take place in mid-April.

After the new members of the Committee took the solemn oath, the Committee elected a new Bureau including Nigel Rodley as Chairperson, Yadh Ben Achour, Iulia Antoanella Motoc and Margo Waterval as Vice-Chairpersons and Cornelis Flinterman as Rapporteur.

The Committee its agenda and after a brief discussion it adopted the report of the Working Group on communications.

The Committee observed a minute of silence in memory of Stephane Hessel, one of the greatest champions of human rights, who passed away on 27 February.

During this session, the Committee will review the reports of Paraguay, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of china, Angola, Macao Special Administrative Region of China and Peru.

The next public meeting of the Committee will be at 3 p.m. this afternoon when it will start its consideration of the third periodic report of Paraguay.

Statements

JANE CONNORS, Chief of the Special Procedures Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, began by welcoming the new Committee members: Kheshoe Parsad Matadeen, Victor Manuel Rodriguez-Rescia, Anja Seibert-Fohr, Yuval Shany and Konstantine Vardzelashvili. She said all five members came with a wealth of experience and wished them the best in their new challenge.

Ms. Connors said the Special Procedures Branch provided support to the majority of the thematic Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Branch now had 48 Special Procedures of which 36 were thematic mandates and 12 mandates relating to countries or territories. Special Procedures reported annually to the Human Rights Council and most also reported to the General Assembly on an annual basis. Mandate holders communicated confidentially with Member States through letters and urgent appeals. In 2012, 603 communications were sent to 127 States regarding at least 1,512 individuals. State responses were improving but were still disappointing with governments replying to 40 percent of communications sent between January 1 and December 31, 2012. Communications and replies were compiled in a report submitted to each session of the Human Rights Council.

Ms. Connors said much of the work of the Special Procedures was relevant to the work of the Committee. Last year, the Working Group on arbitrary detention, in response to Human Rights Council resolution 20/16, started to prepare basic principles and guidelines on remedies and procedures on the right of anyone deprived of his or her liberty by arrest or detention to bring proceedings before court so that the court could decide on the legality of the detention and order a release if not lawful. The “Rabat Plan of Action” was the result of discussions and workshops related to the prohibition of incitement to national, racial or religious hatred. The action plan made recommendations on how to improve the response to these behaviours in legislation, jurisprudence and policies.

Ms. Connors said that in 2012, the death penalty was taken up for analysis in two reports presented to the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly by the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and on torture in light of trends toward the abolition of the death penalty. The report stressed that countries which had not abolished the death penalty may only impose it for intentional killing offences. The report also called for governmental transparency regarding all information related to the imposition and implementation of the death penalty.

The United Nations and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) faced system-wide budgetary cuts. Of the $ 100 million to be cut from the United Nations Secretariat, $ 4.5 million would likely be drawn from OHCHR’s regular budget. Although 70 percent would be in staff costs, she said the Human Rights Committee Secretariat would not be affected at this time.

Ms. Connors updated the meeting on the General Assembly’s intergovernmental process on strengthening the treaty body system. During the session last year, the co-facilitators, the ambassadors of Indonesia and Iceland, were re-appointed. Issues discussed included documentation and conference services, the simplified reporting procedure, webcasting and videoconferencing, and the nomination and election process. The next meeting would take place in mid-April.

Ms. Connors also mentioned that Stephane Hessel, one of the greatest champions of human rights, was honoured with a minute of silence at the Human Rights Council for his life’s work.

NIGEL RODLEY, Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee, said he was aware of how the language of diplomacy had a tendency to inflate the description of things but thanked those who nominated him for their nominations and for their support. He said it was encouraging and invigorating. He welcomed the new members to the Committee and hoped they would find the proceedings worth being part of.

MARGO WATERVAL, Committee Expert and Rapporteur of the Working Group on Communications, said the Working Group met from 5 to 8 March and was composed of eight Committee members. They examined 21 cases, of which nine were recommended as inadmissible. The others would go before the Committee for its examination.

NIGEL RODLEY, Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee, said he continued to be troubled by reduced draft communications and not enough cases had been provided; as a result, the Working Group met for only four days instead of five. More drafts need to be provided by the secretariat as an urgent matter.

The report on communications was adopted.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CT13/002E