Issued twice a year, this Newsletter aims to share news about the sessions of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural rights (CESCR) with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and the ESCR related activities of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
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Latest news from the United Nations Committee on economic, social and cultural rights
54th & 55th SESSIONS OF THE CESCR
During its 54th session held from 23 February to 6 March 2015, the United Nations Committee on Economic, social and cultural rights (CESCR) reviewed the national implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and adopted Concluding Observations and Recommendations on the Gambia, Paraguay and Tajikistan.
From 1 to 19 June 2015, the CESCR held its 55th session and adopted recommendations on Uganda, Chile, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Thailand and Venezuela.
It was the initial report of the Gambia to the Committee, which had to review the country’s report in absence of a national delegation. The CESCR notably raised concerns that not all provisions of the Covenant were domesticated and urged the State to establish a National Human Rights Commission in compliance with the Paris principles.
The Committee also noted the absence of a comprehensive legislation on non-discrimination and invited the Gambia to adopt one and to repeal or amend any discriminatory existing law.
In relation to workers’ rights, the CESCR invited the State to set up a national minimum wage sufficient to provide a decent living to workers and their families.
Noting the high rate of maternal and infant mortality, notably in rural areas, the Committee asked the Gambia to take urgent steps to reduce it and to improve women’s access to health services including basic neonatal and obstetric care as well as sexual and reproductive health services.
The next periodic report of the Gambia is due in March 2017.
Uganda was also reviewed by the first time by the Committee. Noting the insufficient allocation of resources to social protection, health, housing agriculture and education, the CESCR notably recommended the increase of public budget in these sectors to ensure a progressive realisation of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) in the country. You can read the concluding observations here.
ADOPTION OF A LIST OF ISSUES ON BURUNDI
During the 55th pre-sessional Working Group of the CESCR held from 9 to 13 March 2015, List of Issues that will constitute the principal focus of the CESCR’s dialogue with the representatives of States were adopted on Burundi, Canada, France, Greece, Guyana, Iraq, Italy and Morocco.
In relation to Burundi, the Working Group took into account the concerns raised in our joint submission with HURALAW, our Burundian partner.
GENERAL DISCUSSION ON THE DRAFT GENERAL COMMENT ON ARTICLE 7 OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS: RIGHT TO JUST AND FAVOURABLE CONDITIONS OF WORK
This discussion was held by the Committee on 16 June 2015 and aimed at gathering input on the draft general comment by interested stakeholders. For more information including written submissions made and a summary record of the discussion, please visit the Committee webpage here.
Overview of the work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
17th EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF THE ACHPR: 19 to 28 February 2015
From 19 to 28 February 2015, the Commission held its 17th extraordinary session in Banjul, the Gambia. The periodic reports of Mozambique and Liberia were reviewed and recommendations adopted. The Concluding observations are not yet available.
Nine resolutions were adopted included on the Right to Water Obligations. This latter resolution makes several recommendations to African Union Member States including to guarantee the justiciability of the right to water. In addition, the Commission requested the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to prepare principles and guidelines on the right to water to assist States in the implementation of their obligations.
For more information, see the final communiqué of the session here.
56th SESSION OF THE ACHPR: 21 April to 7 May 2015
During this session, the Commission reviewed seven States’ reports which all included information on the implementation of ESCR enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Nigeria; Djibouti; Niger; Ethiopia; Uganda; Malawi and Senegal.
The Concluding observations are not yet available online, they will be published in due time.
The Commission launched the following documents and studies during the session and notably:
- General Comment No. 2 on Article 14 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol);
- Study on the Situation of Women Human Rights Defenders in Africa;
- Study on Nationality in Africa.
The Chairperson of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa also presented the Group intersession activity report. A compendium of the Algiers workshop on the right to education for all proceedings is to be published. A continental meeting on the right to education post-2015 will be organised and most likely hosted by Algeria.
In the absence of measures to monitor implementation of recommendations made by special mechanisms or the Commission, the Chairperson also recommended the Commission to adopt methods for monitoring implementation of recommendations of special mechanisms such as reminder letters after a specified waiting period.
Upcoming events and opportunities
56th SESSION OF THE CESCR: 21 September to 9 October 2015
The CESCR will meet in Geneva to consider the State reports of Burundi, Greece, Guyana, Iraq, Italy, Morocco and Sudan.
The Committee will consider the initial report of Burundi. Parallel reports by NGOs and National Human Rights Institutions should be transmitted to the CESCR Secretariat at least 3 weeks before the session. For more information, please refer to this information note or do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second period report of Sudan will also be reviewed by the CESCR. Parallel reports should be submitted to the CESCR Secretariat at least 3 weeks before the session.
57th PRE-SESSIONAL WORKING GROUP OF THE CESCR: 12 to 16 October 2015
Lists of issues will be adopted on Angola, Burkina Faso, Honduras, Kenya, Namibia, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Human Dignity and its partners will submit information for the adoption of the list of issues on Kenya and Namibia.
Deadline for submission of information is 3 weeks before the session.
57th SESSION OF THE ACHPR: 4 to 18 November 2015, Banjul, the Gambia
The periodic reports to be reviewed will be announced in due time.
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