Where global solutions are shaped for you | News & Media | COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS HOLDS MEETING WITH STATES

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

COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS HOLDS MEETING WITH STATES

Il est notamment rappelé que, contrairement à ce qui se fait pour les autres organes conventionnels, les membres de ce Comité sont élus par l’ECOSOC
5 October 2018

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights this afternoon held a meeting with States, exchanging views on the simplified reporting procedure, the 2020 review of treaty body mechanisms, and the election of Committee members.

Maria Virginia Bras Gomes, Committee Chairperson, updated States on the Committee’s work during the current session, mainly about the simplified reporting procedure, which she said would be mostly offered to States with a longer reporting history. In relation to the 2020 review of treaty body mechanisms, the Committee remained involved in that discussion. Harmonizing working methods, reducing the burden, overlapping and duplications were the main themes of the discussion, with the overall aim to strengthen the protection of rights holders.

Mikel Mancisidor, Committee Member, updated States parties on the Committee’s day of general discussion, to be held on Tuesday, 9 October, which would be devoted to article 15 of the Covenant on science and the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. He explained that the Committee would discuss article 15 in four panels or roundtables. The day of general discussion would be very useful in making headway in defining the normative content on science, which States parties had previously flagged as missing in guidelines.

Rodrigo Uprimny, Committee Member and Chair of the Working Group on Communications, informed that the Committee had formally recorded 57 communications, out of which it had declared 14 inadmissible; 37 were still pending, and four had been decided on merits. The Committee had clarified some uncertainties about the scope of the Covenant, such as the exhaustion of domestic remedies, sufficient substantiation, and the participation of third parties.

In the ensuing discussion, delegations stated that the simplified reporting procedure was a positive change, in particular for small States, in better directing the dialogue. As for the 2020 review, they were of the view that it was important to harmonize work with other human rights bodies. Delegations also thanked Ms. Bras Gomes for her work in the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights.

Speaking were Iceland and Portugal.

The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 9 October, at 10 a.m., to hold a full day of general discussion devoted to article 15 of the Covenant on the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.

Statements and Discussion

MARIA VIRGINIA BRAS GOMES, Committee Chairperson, welcomed the representatives of States parties and briefed them on the Committee’s work during the current session. Under the simplified reporting procedure, which had started in 2017, she said that the Committee had reviewed two States – New Zealand and Spain. The Committee was currently in a position to offer that procedure to more States, especially to those with a longer reporting history. In October 2018, the Committee would next adopt the list of issues prior to reporting on Belarus, Norway, Belgium and Ukraine. In 2019, the Committee hoped to adopt the list of issues prior to reporting for Austria, Chile, Italy, Finland, and Mongolia. Article 15 of the Covenant on science and the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress would be the main subject of the full day of general discussion on Tuesday, 9 October, Ms. Bras Gomes informed. In relation to the 2020 review, the Committee remained involved in that discussion and it had shared information at the previous meeting of chairs of treaty bodies. Harmonizing working methods, reducing the burden, overlapping and duplications were the main themes of discussion, with the overall aim to strengthen the protection of rights holders. The Committee would hold its first meeting with the Council of Europe’s Committee of Social Rights on Monday, 8 October. Finally, Ms. Bras Gomes informed that Mali and Cabo Verde had held their first dialogues with the Committee, noting that the dialogue with Cabo Verde had taken place in Portuguese.

MIKEL MANCISIDOR, Committee Member, explained that the Committee would discuss article 15 of the Covenant in four panels or roundtables. The first would pertain to normative general contents of law, the second to the relationship between the right to science and other rights (culture, education, health, women’s rights), the third one to the necessary limitations that were required in exercising the right to scientific research, and the fourth to obligations of States with respect to article 15. Interlocutors would include 17 experts, representatives of international organizations, members of academia and non-governmental organizations. The day of general discussion would be very useful in making headway in defining the normative content on science, which States parties had previously flagged as missing in guidelines. The Committee would be pleased to hear the positions of States parties. Mr. Mancisidor encouraged delegates to read the relevant information and questions published on the Committee’s website before the day of general discussion.

Presenting his update on individual communications, RODRIGO UPRIMNY, Committee Member and Chair of the Working Group on Communications, informed that the Committee had formally recorded 57 communications, out of which it had declared 14 inadmissible; 37 were still pending, and four had been decided on merits. The Committee had clarified some uncertainties about the scope of the Covenant, such as the exhaustion of domestic remedies, sufficient substantiation, and the participation of third parties. The current 57 communications represented a significant increase in the Committee’s workload, whereas the material resources had not been increased, especially when it came to the petitions unit staff. Mr. Uprimny underlined the importance of having adequate resources to deal with individual communications.

MARIA VIRGINIA BRAS GOMES, Committee Chairperson, echoed Mr. Uprimny’s remarks on the availability of adequate resources, noting that having a backlog in individual communications was self-defeating.

Iceland stated that the simplified reporting procedure was a positive change, in particular for small States, in better directing the dialogue. As for the 2020 review, Iceland was of the view that it was important to harmonize work with other human rights bodies. Iceland encouraged the Committee to continue working on the 2020 review, but it cautioned that Member States had not yet decided in what form the review would take place. What was the Committee’s view about itself vis-à-vis other committees?

Portugal welcomed the Committee’s practice of holding meetings with States parties, and it echoed the Chairperson’s aspiration that Portuguese would soon become an official language of the United Nations. Portugal also thanked Ms. Bras Gomes for her work on the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights.

Referring to her ending term, MARIA VIRGINIA BRAS GOMES, Committee Chairperson, thanked the States parties for their collaboration. She reminded that the Committee and States were working to achieve the same goal, but in different capacities. They had different roles to play.

SANDRA LIEBENBERG, Committee Member, reminded that as part of its concluding observations, the Committee had decided to follow up on three urgent issues in 24 months and no longer in 18 months, in order to be in line with other committees. As for the status of the Committee, Ms. Liebenberg recalled that Committee Experts were elected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, whose members were not necessarily States parties to the Covenant. That was an anomaly.

MOHAMED EZZELDIN ABDEL-MONHEIM, Committee Member, said with respect to the 2020 review that the essential thing was the commitment to the cause of human rights everywhere, rather than just administrative procedures. The Committee should look at substance. On the election of Experts, Mr. Abdel-Monheim stressed that what mattered was that the Committee was there and that it fulfilled its mandate in the best possible way. There was no sign of reporting fatigue among the least developed countries during the current session. More extensive reports led to more constructive dialogues.

HEISOO SHIN, Committee Member, drew attention to the proposal that the elections of the Committee members be revised by the States parties to the Covenant. What were the efforts of States parties in that respect? In the treaty body strengthening resolution, there was a lot of streamlining, harmonization and reduction of reporting for States parties. But there was no strong point on domestic implementation. What were States parties’ initiatives in that respect?

ZDZISLAW KEDZIA, Committee Member, reminded that it was up to the United Nations Economic and Social Council to change the mode of elections of Committee Experts, and not up to States parties. Any change required amendments to the Covenant itself. The element of competitiveness would increase if States parties decided on how elections would be run. The list of issues prior to reporting was shifting the responsibilities from States parties to the Committee for the preparation of questions, which was more pragmatic and workable. The urgent need for research capacities required resources, and without appropriate resources, States parties and committees would lose their opportunity.

Concluding Remarks

MARIA VIRGINIA BRAS GOMES, Committee Chairperson, said that the Committee did not have an official position on the election of Experts by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Since the form of the 2020 review had not been decided yet, the Committee could keep its options open and make useful contributions. As for the working methods, some procedural harmonization was easy to achieve and others more difficult. It was a means to achieve an end, and not an end in itself.

For use of the information media; not an official record


ESC18/020E