HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE CONSIDERS ESTABLISHING
NEW YORK, 4 April (UN Headquarters) -- The Committee on Human Rights -- the body charged with monitoring implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -- met briefly this afternoon to consider the feasibility of creating task forces to help focus its discussions and streamline its working methods.
The Committee’s 18 independent expert-members are empowered to consider reports on measures adopted and progress made in achieving the observance of the rights enshrined in the Covenant. In addition, under the Covenant’s First Optional Protocol, a number of States have recognized the competence of the Committee to consider communications from individuals regarding alleged violations of human rights.
According to Eckart Klein, Chairman of the Committee’s Working Group on Working Methods, the experts had last year considered the option of creating three specific task forces -- covering reporting procedures, communications under the Covenant’s Optional Protocol, and drafting of general comments. Reporting to the Committee today on the subsequent negotiations, Mr. Klein presented a 14-paragraph paper containing the Working Group’s proposals. He said the Group felt it was premature to create task forces in all those areas. It would be more practicable to establish a Country Report Task Force (CRTF), which would focus on the most relevant problems facing the State party whose report was under examination.
He then highlighted the Working Group’s recommended modalities for such a task force, saying that all members of the Committee would be asked to serve on one, or, if necessary, two task forces per session. Each CRTF would consist of five or six members, including at least one member from the region and the country rapporteur of the State party being examined. The chair would select who would sit on each CRTF and designate the relevant country rapporteur as soon as possible.
The Working Group recommended that the Secretariat be entrusted with the task of convening CRTFs during sessions, and would cooperate with the country rapporteurs on preparation of a list of issues to be circulated to the members of the force, he said. They might wish to transmit comments, in writing, for proposed amendments and additions to that list. Questions should be as precise as possible. CRTF members would have the overall responsibility of conducting the debates on a State report. The Group also recommended that, whenever possible, State party delegations should have some time to reflect on and prepare responses to the questions raised by CRTF members.
When the floor opened for debate, members discussed the number of people each CRTF should consist of, concluding that that figure should correspond to the number of reports being considered. They also debated how precise questions addressed to States parties should be, as well as whether the CRTF should assume total responsibility for debates on States reports. In addition, members discussed whether the work of the CRTFs would obviate the need for a pre-sessional working group on the reporting procedures of States parties.
The Committee will meet tomorrow at 10 a.m., to continue the discussion on its methods of work.
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