UN Human Rights Committee

Source description last updated: 23 January 2015
In brief: The Human Rights Committee is a United Nations body of 18 experts elected by member states that considers reports submitted by states on their compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Coverage on ecoi.net:
State reports, concluding observations (for countries of priorities A-D) as well as NGO reports and reports of national human rights institutions (for countries of priorities A-C).
Covered monthly on ecoi.net.
“The Human Rights Committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its State parties. [...]
All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. [...] The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of ‘concluding observations’.
In addition to the reporting procedure, article 41 of the Covenant provides for the Committee to consider inter-state complaints. Furthermore, the First Optional Protocol to the Covenant gives the Committee competence to examine individual complaints with regard to alleged violations of the Covenant by States parties to the Protocol.
The full competence of the Committee extends to the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant on the abolition of the death penalty with regard to States who have accepted the Protocol. [...]
The Committee also publishes its interpretation of the content of human rights provisions, known as general comments on thematic issues or its methods of work.” (Human Rights Committee Website, Introduction: Monitoring civil and political rights, undated, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CCPR/Pages/CCPRIntro.aspx)
UN budget.
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: States parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Thematic focus: Civil and political rights
“Once the State party has ratified the Covenant it should submit, one year after the Covenant enters into force, its initial report to the Committee. The general rule [...] is that State parties should present their periodic report to the Committee every four years. [...]
The Human Rights Committee has replaced the working group on article 40 of the Covenant with Country Report Task Forces [...]. The principal purpose of the Country Task Force is to identify in advance the questions which will constitute the principal focus of the dialogue with the representatives of the reporting State. [...] One of [the Task Force’s] members is the country rapporteur who is the person overall responsible for the drafting of the list of issues. [...]
The replacement of the pre-sessional working group, by Country Report Task Forces meeting during the plenary, has freed time for a pre-sessional working group on communications to meet, for five days, prior to each of the Committee’s sessions. [...] This working group is entrusted with the task of making recommendations to the Committee regarding communications received under the Optional Protocol. [...]
It is the practice of the Committee [...] to examine reports in the presence of representatives of the reporting States. [...] if a State party has submitted a report but does not send a delegation to the Committee, the Committee may notify the State party of the alternative date on which it intends to consider the report or may proceed to consider the report at the meeting that had been initially scheduled. [...]
The final phase of the Committee’s examination of the State report is the drafting and adoption of its concluding observations. For this, the country rapporteur prepares, with the assistance of the secretariat and based on the constructive dialogue held during the plenary session, draft concluding observations for the consideration of the Committee. [...] This draft is discussed by the Committee in private session with a view to adopting it by consensus. [...] [The concluding observations] are forwarded to the State party concerned and included in the Committee’s annual report. [...]
After the adoption of the concluding observations, a follow-up procedure shall be employed in order to establish, maintain or restore a dialogue with the state party. For this purpose and in order to enable the Committee to take further action, the Committee shall appoint a special rapporteur, who will report to the Committee. [...]
The Committee invites specialized agencies and other bodies of the United Nations to cooperate in its work. The Committee invites specialized agencies to provide written reports containing country-specific information on States parties whose reports are before them. [...] the Committee invites non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions to provide reports containing country-specific information on States parties whose reports are before them.” (Human Rights Committee Website, Working methods, undated, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CCPR/Pages/WorkingMethods.aspx)
Languages of publications:
English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese
Further reading / links:
Human Rights Committee: Membership, undated
Human Rights Committee: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 23 March 1976
Human Rights Committee: Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 23 March 1976
Human Rights Committee: Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, 15 December 1989
Rules of procedure of the Human Rights Committee [CCPR/C/3/Rev.10], 11 January 2012
Schlüter, Jan-Philippe. Der Menschenrechtsausschuss der Vereinten Nationen: Ein geeignetes Instrument zum Schutz der Menschenrechte? Saarbrücken: VDM, 2007
Von der Wense, Wolf. Der UN-Menschenrechtsausschuß und sein Beitrag zum universellen Schutz der Menschenrechte. Berlin: Springer, 1999

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All links accessed 23 January 2015.
All documents available on ecoi.net from this source