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11 October 2018

The Human Rights Committee this afternoon discussed its methods of work, focusing on possible elements for a common aligned procedure for follow-up on concluding observations, decisions and views for all human rights treaty bodies, as proposed by the treaty body chairs during their last annual meeting held in New York from 29 May to 1 June.

At the beginning of the meeting, Yuval Shany, Committee Chairperson, said that this afternoon the Committee was scheduled to consider Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the absence of the report. Exceptionally, it had accepted the State party’s commitment to submitting a report within the next three to four months and its request to postpone the review until the next session.

The Committee then discussed the document titled “Possible elements of a common aligned procedure for follow-up to concluding observations, decisions and views for all treaty bodies”, which the Chairs of human rights treaty bodies had endorsed during their annual meeting from 29 May to 1 June in New York, and which was contained as annex II to their report.

The Chair explained that States were unhappy about the follow-up procedure in general and the differences that existed between the committees. The proposal aimed to safeguard the follow-up procedure while making it more predictable for States, he said, adding that the Committee could accept or reject the proposal, and express its reservations on some of its parts.

During the discussion, some Experts noted that the document was still far from the mark, mentioning in particular their concerns related to the rather marginal role of non-governmental organizations and civil society in the document, as well as too precise specifications and the 3,500-word limit for the recommendations. The Committee, they stressed, should not associate itself with the criteria for suspension and closure of dialogue with States parties because it should be up to each committee to define their own criteria. The real question today was the survival of the follow-up procedure, it was noted, while several Experts expressed their concerns that required too much effort on part of the secretariat, which instead could be put into tackling late communications, for example. Finally, other Experts pleaded that the Committee accept the general spirit of the document, rather than seek perfection in the wording itself.

The Committee generally accepted the proposal, and agreed to issue a statement on its understanding of the proposal and the specific reservations it had.

The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 12 October, to continue the reading of its draft General Comment No. 36 on article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the right to life.

For use of the information media; not an official record