This Newsletter aims to share news about the sessions of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural rights (CESCR) and the ESCR related activities of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
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Latest developments from the UN Committee on ESCR
NEW MEMBERS ELECTED
7 of the 18 current members were re-elected for a 4-year term starting 1 January 2015.
More information on the CESCR Election results.
OVERVIEW OF THE 52D SESSION
During its 52nd session (28 April-23 May 2014) the CESCR reviewed the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights in and adopted Concluding Observations on Armenia, China, including the Special Autonomous Regions of Hong Kong and Macao, Czech Republic, El Salvador (available in Spanish), Indonesia, Lithuania, Monaco, Serbia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
If you have missed the public dialogues on China (including Hong Kong and Macau), you can watch the archived videos at http://bit.ly/1nu1yxI.
On the last day of its session, the Committee exchanged views with members States. The Committee experts expressed their shock at the fact that access to drinking water had been used on a mass scale as a weapon in the ongoing conflict against the inhabitants of Aleppo in Syria, which dramatically violated, not only their right to water but also other rights under the Covenant, including the right to health and the right to food. It also adopted Guidelines on the Independence and Impartiality of its members.
The Committee is preparing its next the General Comment on Article 7 of the Covenant concerning the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work and the General Comment on sexual and reproductive health (for which a day of General Discussion was held in 2010). The Committee hopes to be able to discuss the first draft of at least one of these General Comments during the November session.
ADOPTION OF LIST OF ISSUES
During the 53rd Pre-Sessional Working Group (26 May 2014 - 30 May 2014), the CESCR adopted List of Issues that will constitute the principal focus of the CESCR’s dialogue with the representatives of the following States:
So far, the CESCR has found two communications not eligible for registration since they concerned countries not States parties to the Protocol. Two others have been sent to Spain, the State Party concerned, for its views on admissibility. One is related to social security and pension rights and the other to the right to housing. Depending on the responses, the Committee would consider these communications during the upcoming sessions.
On 1 April 2014, Gabon became the first African country to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights (OP-IESCR), followed by Belgium on 20 May.
As of June 1st, 2014, only 14 countries have ratify to OP-IESCR.
Overview of the 55th session of the ACHPR
From 28 April to 12 May, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held its 55th ordinary session in Luanda, Angola. Read its final communiqué.
The Commission examined the human rights records of Liberia, Mozambique and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
The second periodic report of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic was reviewed and a resolution on the situation was adopted. The resolution condemns the widespread human rights abuses perpetrated against the Sahrawi people in the occupied territories and urges the parties to the conflict to continue to negotiate to achieve a just and lasting mutually-acceptable solution, leading to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. The Commission also invites the International Community to establish an international human rights monitoring mechanism in the occupied territories.
Concluding observations and recommendations made by the Commission will be published on our website once they have been published.
MEETING OF THE WORKING GROUP ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS IN AFRICA
The Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa, met on 27 April.
Its Chairperson, Mr. Mohamed Bechir Khalfallah, presented its intersession activity report during the session, which contained several recommandations notably to Member States. The Working Group recommended States parties to the African Charter to:
- Take into account the State Party Reporting Guidelines for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the African Charter (Tunis Guidelines) when preparing periodic reports;
- Build on these Principles and Guidelines for the adoption of their respective development plans;
- Ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 2008 and became effective since May 2013.
The Commission also launched a call for Applications for the Nomination of Expert Members of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa. For more information, please visit its website.
NEW GENERAL COMMENTS ADOPTED ON HEALTH AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
During the session, the Commission adopted General Comments on Article 14.1 (a), (b), (c) and (g) and Articles 14.2 (a) and (c) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (also called the Maputo Protocol).
The final text of this General Comment is not yet available and will be posted on our website shortly.
The Maputo Protocol was adopted by the African Union in 2003, and entered into force in 2005. It complements the African Charter by expanding the substantive protection of women’s rights in Africa, including by explicitly providing for their health and reproductive rights.
The first General comments on provisions of the Maputo Protocol were adopted in October 2012 on Article 14 (1) (d) and (e) : the right to self-protection and the right to be protected from HIV and sexually transmitted infections as well as their right to be informed of their HIV status and the HIV status of their partners.
56th SESSION OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION IN OCTOBER 2014
The next session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights will take place in Niamey, Niger, from 14 to 30 October 2014. The periodic reports to be reviewed will be announced on our website later this year.
53d SESSION OF THE CESR IN NOVEMBER 2014
The next session of the CESR will take place from 10 to 28 November 2014, The CESCR will meet in Geneva to consider the reports of Finland, Guatemala, Montenegro, Nepal, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Viet Nam.
Deadline for submission of parallel reports by NGOs and NHRIs is a month and a half before the session.
NEXT PRE-SESSIONAL WORKING GROUP OF THE CESCR IN DECEMBER 2014
Deadline for submission of information is two months before the session.