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Human Rights Committee Concludes One Hundred and Fortieth Session, Adopts Concluding Observations on Reports of Chile, Guyana, Indonesia, Namibia, Serbia, Somalia and the United Kingdom

Meeting Summaries

The Human Rights Committee this afternoon concluded its one hundred and fortieth session after adopting concluding observations on the reports of Chile, Guyana, Indonesia, Namibia, Serbia, Somalia and the United Kingdom.

José Manuel Santos Pais, Committee Vice-Chairperson, said that during the intense and productive session, the Committee had held rich and constructive dialogues with the delegations of Chile, Guyana, Indonesia, Namibia, Serbia, Somalia and the United Kingdom.  Most of the reviews were conducted under the simplified reporting procedure, allowing non-reporting and late-reporting States to begin engaging with the Committee.  The Committee was pleased to initiate a constructive dialogue with the delegation of Somalia, which presented its initial report.

In all reviews, the Committee noted positive developments, identified concerns, and made recommendations.  The concluding observations on all these States would be issued on the webpage of the Committee at the end of the session later today.

The Committee had also adopted two lists of issues on Mongolia and Viet Nam, as well as lists of issues prior to reporting on Andorra, Azerbaijan, Djibouti and Mali.  In addition, it adopted decisions on 43 individual communications.  Of those, 19 were decided on the merits, nine were declared inadmissible, and 15 communications were discontinued.  Regarding the cases decided on the merits, the Committee found violations in 19 of them.  

The Committee had growing concerns about the treaty bodies’ backlog of individual communications, more than 70 per cent of which were directed to the Human Rights Committee.  To address this, a strategy was agreed upon with the Petitions Section to substantially increase the number of cases considered for the upcoming sessions.  The Petitions Section would provide the Committee by the end of April of this year with a list of joined repetitive communications ready for the July and October 2024 sessions, and by the beginning of June, a list of joined repetitive communications ready for 2025 and a list of communications from 2015 onwards that were ready for drafting.  The Committee expected the new strategy to finally reverse the increased backlog of cases and reduce the time gap between registration and the Committee’s decision on a communication.

Mr. Santos Pais said that the Committee had adopted one progress report on follow-up to concluding observations for Finland, Paraguay, Tunisia and Uzbekistan.  The scheduled adoption of a report on follow-up to Views had to be cancelled because the Petitions Section was unable to prepare it for the current session.  Follow-up to Views was a vital activity that had been ongoing for 34 years.  The Committee expected the Petitions Section to be able to prepare for the remaining two sessions of this year a report on follow-up to Views for each session.  This was an activity the Committee undertook with utmost care to ensure due monitoring of the ways in which States parties were respecting their obligations under the Optional Protocol and if, how and when they were providing victims with effective remedies. 

During the session, the Committee also adopted its annual report and held an informal meeting with States parties.  This meeting was an opportunity to inform States of progress achieved by the Committee in its core mandated activities and regarding the digital uplift, and of remaining challenges, particularly in the field of individual communications. The meeting, which was attended by representatives of more than 60 States parties to the Covenant, was insightful, allowing the Committee to receive first-hand concerns raised by States on the ongoing treaty body strengthening process.  The Committee valued this exchange and would continue in the future to inform States parties of matters relating to the fulfilling of its mandate. 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had in May 2023 released a working paper on the revitalisation of the treaty body system, and the Committee had submitted its comments on the paper to the Office of the High Commissioner in August 2023.  The Committee expressed discomfort about the proposed Committee Coordination Mechanism, which seemed to imply a significant shift of responsibilities from the Secretariat to Committee members in relation to the treaty body strengthening process. 

Mr. Santos Pais also reported that, if the United Nations’ liquidity crisis did not prevent it, the Committee would hold its one hundred and forty-first session from 1 July to 2 August 2024.  During the session, the Committee would adopt a list of issues in relation to Chad and lists of issues prior to reporting on Austria, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Latvia and Sierra Leone.  Further, the Committee would evaluate the reports of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Lao People's Democratic Republic under the follow-up procedure to concluding observations.  The Committee also expected to convene its usual working group on communications.  This was a critical part of the work of the Committee that directly impacted victims of alleged human rights violations.  There was at least one potential victim behind each communication.  The Committee was prepared to reduce the length of the session from five to three weeks to contribute to reducing the cost of the session.

The Committee was pleased to note that the High Commissioner had established a dedicated office for digital transformation to lead the organization-wide digital transformation effort.  It hoped that that would provide the required leadership and expertise to deliver tangible results.  The Committee expressed its full support to the digital transformation agenda of the Office of the High Commissioner, and called on States parties to provide sustainable funding to the initiative.

Mr. Santos Pais said that throughout the current session, Committee Experts had fulfilled their duties professionally, with resolve and wisdom, expressing their opinions freely and independently.  This had led to the adoption of solid concluding observations for each review.  He acknowledged the support of the United Nations staff and Secretariat, and thanked the hundreds of representatives of human rights institutions and civil society organizations who had engaged with the Committee during the session.  Further, he expressed gratitude to the technical staff who made the Committee’s work possible.

Several Experts also praised the work of the Committee, the Chair and all those who had supported the Committee during the session, and expressed hope for continued support of the work of the Committee in the context of the United Nations’ liquidity crisis.

All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.  Meeting summary releases can be found here.  The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed via the UN Web TV webpage.

The Committee will hold its one hundred and forty-first session from 1 July to 2 August 2024.  In the session, the Committee will review the reports of Croatia, Honduras, India, Maldives, Malta, Pakistan, Suriname and Syria.



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