Monitoring human rights instruments

Document Sample
Monitoring human rights instruments Powered By Docstoc
					      International Treaty
      Body Monitoring

                            Judith Cohen
    Head of Programme: Parliamentary and International Affairs
             South African Human Rights Commission
Presentation to Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, Children and
              People with Disabilities, 12 August 2009
 The United Nations oversees a number of
  international treaties that bind state parties to protect
  and to take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment
  of basic human rights. By adopting these treaties,
  member states send a strong message to the world
  community about their commitment to defending
  human rights. This commitment is not only symbolic,
  however; states that ratify international human rights
  treaties must implement domestic measures and
  legislation compatible with their treaty obligations and
To demonstrate their compliance, states must abide by
the treaty guidelines and periodically report to United
Nations committees. Independent bodies of experts form
the committees that monitor implementation by reviewing
state reports and issuing concluding observations and
recommendations. Although the exact reporting
requirements vary, typically state parties must submit an
initial report within one year of ratifying a convention.
Periodic reports are subsequently due at regular intervals
set by each committee. Additional reports may be
required if state parties have acceded to any optional
        UN Treaty Body System

   International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
    (ICCPR) (1966) and its Optional Protocol.
   International Covenant on Economic, Social and
    Cultural Rights (ICESR) (1966).
   International Convention on the Elimination of All
    Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) (1965).
   Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
    Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (1979).
   The Convention Against Torture and other Cruel,
    Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CAT) and its
    Optional Protocol.
   Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (1989).
   International Convention on the Protection of All
    Migrant Workers and Members of their Families
    (ICRMW) (1990) only entered into force 2003.
2 New Treaty Bodies

 International Convention on Protection and
  Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with
  Disabilities (ICRDPD) (the Disability Convention)
 International Convention for the Protection of All
  Persons from Enforced Disappearance
South Africa
 Ratified
    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
    International Convention on the Elimination of All
     Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)
    Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
     Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
    Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman
     or Degrading Treatment (CAT)
    Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
    International Convention on Rights of Person’s with
     Disabilities (ICRPD)
South Africa still needs to ratify
 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  (ICESR) signed 1994
    A 2007 report by the National Assembly and the National
      Council of Provinces Parliament of South Africa, Joint
      Coordinating Committee on the African Peer Review
      Mechanism, however, countered that there “is no apparent
      reason for the country’s failure to ratify the Covenant
      because it imposes no greater duties than the Constitution.”
    Current campaign to ratify
 Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT)
 International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant
  Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW)
 International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from
  Enforced Disappearance (ICPED)
SA’s reporting status
    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) SA – r as
        Initial report due March 2000 – South Africa submitted mid 2009, yet to
          appear before Committee
    International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
     Discrimination (ICERD) SA – 1998 r 1/2
        South Africa appeared before the committee in November 2006 and
          presented initial, 2nd and 3rd report.
        15 August 2007 progress report outstanding, hate crimes, xenophobia

    Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
     (CEDAW) SA – 1995 r 1/4
        2
           nd (2001) & 3rd (2005) reports submitted in 2008.

    Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
     Treatment (CAT) SA – 1998 r 1/4
        Initial report submitted 2005 (due 2000) considered Nov 2006, next
          report due Dec 2009. Nov 2007, progress report outstanding (non
          refoulement; NPM, rights victims of torture to claim compensation;
          violence against women and children; legislation to criminalise torture
    Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) SA – 1995 r 2/5
        Initial report 1997, considered 2000; supplementary report 2002 – 2
          and 3rd reports now outstanding
Treaty Bodies

  Breakdown of Treaties
ICCPR civil & political rights
 A treaty that safeguards the right to life,
  liberty, and security; to freedom from torture
  and slavery; to equality before the law; to
  freedom of movement, association, thought,
  religion and expression; to privacy; and to the
  enjoyment of culture
ICESCR – economic social &
cultural rights
 Protects a range of economic, social, and
  cultural rights without prejudice to creed,
  political affiliation, gender, or race.
 Ratification campaign by civil society.
  Commission also liaised with civil society and
  government departments to ratify.
ICERD - Discrimination
 a comprehensive instrument prohibiting
  discrimination based on race or national
  origin, sex, language, or religion.
 Committee also focuses on trafficking and
  violence against women; the lack of
  prosecution of hate crimes; LGBT rights etc.
CEDAW - Women
 the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
  against Women (CEDAW) establishes an
  international bill of rights for women by
  defining gender equality and setting an
  agenda for state action to guarantee the
  enjoyment of equal rights
 Committee often comments on violence
  against women, prostitution and trafficking,
  and women’s health.
CAT - Torture
 requires states to implement measures to
  prevent torture within their jurisdiction and
  forbids them to return persons to a country
  where there is reason to believe they will be
 Recommendations from the Committee
  inlcude, the criminalization of torture; the
  need for training regarding the provisions of
  the Convention for law enforcement
  personnel and; difficulties of asylum seekers
OPCAT - Subcommittee
 National Preventative Mechanism of all
  places where persons are detained against
  their will.
 Commission advocating for the ratification of
  OPCAT and the establishment of a NPM.
CRC - children
 A comprehensive instrument that sets out
  rights and defines universal principles and
  norms regarding the status of children
 Areas of concern raised; about high rates of
  HIV infection in children, female genital
  mutilation, child physical and sexual abuse,
  and child prostitution
 Requires review of legislation to ensure no
  violence of children in any setting
ICPMW – Migrant workers
 Firmly establishes the economic, social, cultural, civil
  and political rights of all persons who are currently
  engaged or will engage in employment in a country of
  which they are not a national
 The need to protect particularly vulnerable groups of
  migrants, especially children, and recommended that
  steps be taken to eliminate hazardous forms of labor
  for migrant children, to prevent commercial sexual
  exploitation of migrant children, and to ensure that
  migrant children involved in trafficking and/or
  prostitution are properly treated as victims.
ICRPD - Disability
 Comprehensive instrument that articulates
  the rights of person’s with disabilities.
 The SAHRC also designed a Toolkit for
  training and awareness raising on the
  Convention, which was launched at a
  conference in December 2007.
 Children with disabilities often face major
  barriers to education, including refusals to
  accommodate learners in mainstream
  schools to these schools not being
ICPED – Enforced disappearances

 This Convention is significant as it defines
  enforced disappearances as a human rights
  violation and imposes a duty on state parties
  to criminalise such acts. The Convention
  recognises the right of families to know what
  happened to victims and also the right to
  reparations for victims of enforced
  disappearances. The Convention is novel in
  that family members are also recognised as
Role of parliamentary

  Monitoring as oversight

 Encourage ratification
     ICESCR – economic social and cultural rights
     OPCAT – establishment of national
      preventative mechanism (NPM)
     ICRMW – Migrant workers and their families
      ICPED - Enforced Disappearance, victims
      can be family members
1. Before the Treaty Body Session
 Increase awareness about the Treaty Body systems through
      Information and training sessions
      Ensuring that members of the committee are aware of South
       Africa international treaty body obligations
      Infuse the treaty body obligations into the daily work of the
      Actively hold sessions on the treaty bodies and call
       government officials to account on the process and specific
      Request Department of International Affairs and Co-
       operation and responsible government departments to
       keep the committee up to date on the status of SA’s
       reporting obligations
2. During the Treaty Body session

 Host meetings, create awareness in constituencies
 Issue press statements, participate in public
  meetings, radio talk shows
3. After the Treaty Body session

   Publicizing and awareness raising domestically
    about the proceedings before the Treaty Body and
    the concluding observations and recommendations.
   Monitoring the implementation by government of
    the recommendations.
African Regional System
 African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, 1981
 In terms of Article 62 - submit a report on legislative
  and other measures every 2 years
 Reporting has been criticized as arduous and too
  heavy a burden resulting in many states not reporting
  or reporting late
 Quality of reports have been a matter of concern due
  to lack of expertise, resources or political will
 Makes General Comments
African Instruments
 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
      The African Charter’s deals with gender in its preamble and
       in Articles 2, 3, and 18(3). Article 18(3) addresses
       specifically the rights of women by making it a duty on States
       to "eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and
       ensure adequate protection of women and children’s rights
       as they are stipulated in international conventions and

 The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and
  peoples’ Rights, relative to the Rights of Women in Africa
  was adopted in July 2003 and entered into force on 25
  November 2005
African Charter on the Rights and
Welfare of the Child
 Corporal punishment provisions:
       Art 11(5): parties to the Charter should take all appropriate
        measures to ensure that a child who is subjected to school
        or parental discipline shall be treated with humanity and with
        respect to the inherent dignity of the child.
       Art21(1): parties should take all appropriate measures to
        eliminate harmful social and cultural practices affecting the
        welfare, dignity, normal growth, development of the child and
        those customs and practices prejudicial to the health or life
        of the child.
 Disability provisions:
    Art 13: special mention of PWDs by calling for adoption of
     special measures of protection, together with the principle of
     self-reliance, participation and access.
Universal Periodic Review
 UPR is new mechanism established by the Human Rights
  Council (HRC).
 Its aim is to improve the human rights situation on the ground, in
  every UN member state, by assessing the fulfillment of each
  country’s human rights obligations and looking at positive
  developments and challenges in this area.
 All member states will be reviewed, in sessions, over a period of
  four years. South Africa was reviewed in the first session, which
  took place in April 2008.
 Recommended to South Africa to systematically and
  continuously integrate a gender perspective in the follow-up
  process to the UPR (Slovenia);
UPR Recommendations
 Recommended to take increased measures to protect and
  provide redress to women at risk of or subjected to gender-
  based violence (The Netherlands);
 Recommended South Africa to follow up on the
  recommendation made by the Committee against Torture to
  adopt all necessary measures to prevent, combat and punish
  violence against women and children (Switzerland);
 Recommended that concrete measures be taken to improve the
  handling by police of rape cases and to curb rates of violence,
  particularly against women and girls (Canada);
 Recommended to South Africa to persevere in its efforts to
  promote the rights of education and to pay particular attention to
  continuing and disseminating the culture of human rights among
  young people as part of its educational and pedagogical
  programme (Tunisia);
 South Africa’s standing in the international
 Role of international law in ensuring that we
  achieve the full enjoyment of the rights in the
Contact Details
 Parliamentary and International Affairs
  Programme – South African Human Rights
     Head of Programme: Judith Cohen
     Email: /
     Tel: 021 426 2277
     Fax 021 426 2875
     132 Adderley Street, 7th floor ABSA Building