|A Comparison of Self-Evaluating State Reporting Systems (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1995, 63 p.)|
|CHAPTER 2. MONITORING OF UNITED NATIONS CONVENTIONS ON HUMAN RIGHTS|
Within the United Nations framework, there are several International Human Rights Conventions. To supervise, investigate and monitor the implementation of the provisions of international legal instruments and standards, several mechanisms are used, both treaty-based and non-treaty-based. This paper deals only with treaty-based mechanisms. These are:
(a) reporting procedures;
(b) inquiry procedures;9
(c) inter-state complaints;10
(d) communications procedures.11
9 The Convention against Torture has an optional inquiry procedure under Article 20. If it appears to the Committee that torture is being systematically practised in the territory of a State, the Committee invites that State to cooperate in its examination of the information and, to this end, the Committee may designate one or more of its members to make a confidential inquiry, which may include a visit to its territory, and hearing of witnesses. The findings are submitted to the Committee, which transmits them, together with its own comments or suggestions, to the State party. The Committee may also decide to request additional information, either from the representatives of the State concerned or from governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as individuals, for the purpose of obtaining further elements on which to form an opinion. It invites that State to inform the Committee of actions it has taken with regard to the Committees findings. After all the proceedings regarding an inquiry have been completed, the Committee may decide to include a summary account of the results of the proceedings in its annual report. Only at that stage is the work of the Committee made public. An inquiry was conducted on Turkey. The procedure was started on the basis of an Amnesty International report. At present another inquiry procedure has been initiated.
10 Three instruments provide for an inter-state complaints procedure according to which States parties recognize the competence of a Committee to receive and consider communications from a State party claiming that another State party is not fulfilling its obligations under the instrument concerned: (a) the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 41 (optional); 43 States have made the declaration; (b) the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Articles 11, 12 and 13 (obligatory); (c) the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Article 21 (optional); 36 State parties have made the declaration. To date, these procedures have not yet been resorted to.
11 The communications procedure is optional under the First Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, under Article 14 of CERD and under Article 22 of CAT (35 States accepted). A fourth procedure is envisaged under Article 77 of the Migrant Workers Convention, which is not yet in force. Individuals subject to the jurisdiction of States parties can complain to the Committee on the violations of their rights. The Communications Branch of the United Nations Centre of Human Rights makes a preliminary analysis of the Communication to decide to which Committee the communication should be submitted. Communications complaining only of torture or racial discrimination are more rare. Most complaints contain an element of civil and political rights. For that reason, most complaints are directed to the Human Rights Committee.
The five United Nations Conventions on Human Rights, with State reporting procedures and a secretariat in Geneva, which will be treated in this paper are:
1. the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its Optional Protocol (HRC);
2. the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR);
3. the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC);
4. the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD);
5. the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).
Three Conventions will not be discussed extensively in this paper. The Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), whose secretariat is in New York. The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid hardly functions, and in Chapter 9 a lesson is drawn from it. The Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families has not yet entered into force.