8 October 2018
The Human Rights Committee this morning opened its one hundred and twenty-fourth session, hearing a statement by Ibrahim Salama, Chief of the Human Rights Treaties Branch, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In his opening statement, Mr. Salama noted that the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in her first address to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-ninth session, had recognized the centrality of the Committee’s work and stressed that the Covenants, together with other core human rights treaties and the recommendations of all United Nations human rights bodies, were fundamental in preventing, mitigating and ending human rights violations, including the inequalities and discrimination that tormented so many fellow human beings. The implementation of the Office Management Plan 2018-2021 had started, Mr. Salama said, noting that it focused on prevention, civic space, and expanding the global constituency for human rights. It would also explore emerging human rights concerns, including digital space, corruption, inequality and people’s displacement and movement. Stressing the commitment to enhancing participation in public life of rights holders and to protecting civic space and those standing for human rights, Mr. Salama said that the Covenant set out the rights necessary for upholding those commitments, and highly valued the Committee’s engagement with civil society in its work.
Turning to the issue of reprisals, Mr. Salama recalled that the Committee, like many others, had adopted the San Josè Guidelines against Intimidation or Reprisals, and a common approach across United Nations human rights bodies and experts should certainly prove more effective for counteracting the damaging effect of reprisals on the work of human rights treaty bodies and on the promotion and protection of human rights. Addressing the thirteenth annual meeting of the Chairs of the treaty bodies held in New York from 28 May to 1 June, Mr. Salama noted that the Human Rights Committee had already adopted its position on the 2020 review, and also said that the Office, along with the Geneva Academy, and with the support of Germany, would hold a workshop in November to see how the relatively new simplified reporting procedure could be aligned across all treaty bodies that used it, and how the Office could support this endeavour. The Chairs had also endorsed possible elements for a common aligned procedure for follow-up to concluding observations, decisions, and views.
The United Nations Secretary-General’s report on the status of the treaty bodies system, now available on the website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, highlighted that the adjustment to the meeting time allocated to Committees had not been matched by the allocation of sufficient staff. The Office looked forward to working with the Committee in addressing this challenge soon, and in connection with the 2020 review and beyond. Finally, Mr. Salama noted that the current session would be a busy one, and stressed that numerous stakeholders who had engaged with the Committee on the draft general comment on the right to life, looked forward to its final adoption, in recognition of the Committee’s extremely valuable role.
Andreas Zimmerman, new member of the Human Rights Committee, made a solemn declaration and the Committee then adopted its agenda and programme of work for the session.
Margo Waterval, Committee Rapporteur, said that the working group on individual communications had met the previous week and considered 22 communications, finding 14 violations, one non-violation, six inadmissible, and one with two options.
During the session, which is being held from 8 October to 2 November, the Committee will review the following States parties: Belarus, Sudan, Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, and Bulgaria. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.
The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings will be available via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.
The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. today, 8 October, to start its consideration of the fifth periodic report of Belarus (CCPR/C/BLR/5).
For use of the information media; not an official record