COMMITTEE ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES

Guidelines for civil society and National Human Rights Institutions

Victims, civil society actors, and National Human Rights Institutions have a key role to play in assisting the Committee to fulfil its mandate effectively. Their participation in the Committee’s activities is essential to provide a comprehensive picture of the situation of enforced disappearances in States parties, and of the way they are implementing each of the rights and obligations enshrined in the Convention.

The Committee has adopted a document on its relationship with civil society actors (CED/C/3) and with National Human Rights Institutions (CED/C/6).

Civil society actors and National Human Rights Institutions can contribute to the work of the Committee in different ways:

  1. Written submissions in the context of the examination of State party reports under article 29 of the Convention
  2. Participating in the sessions of the Committee
  3. Interaction related to specific cases of alleged violations of the Convention

Victims, civil society organizations and other civil society actors do not need an ECOSOC consultative status to take part to the work of the Committee.

Specific information regarding the programme of work of the Committee can be consulted on the respective webpage of each session. Here you can access the “Information note for victims, civil society organizations and National Human Rights Institutions” that the Committee publishes before each session, with information about the deadlines and other practical aspects.

I. Written submissions in the context of the examination of State party reports under article 29 of the Convention

Civil society actors and National Human Rights Institutions can submit information to the Committee to contribute to the examination of the reports of States parties under article 29 of the Convention. Such information can be provided at the different phases of the procedure:

  1. Prior to the adoption of the list of issues (LOI) on the initial report of the State party (article 29-1 of the Convention)
  2. Prior to the interactive dialogue that takes place for the examination of the initial report (article 29-1 of the Convention)
  3. Prior to the examination of the State’s report on follow-up to concluding observations (Rule 54 of the Committee’s Rules of Procedure)
  4. Prior to the examination of the State’s report on additional information (article 29-4 of the Convention)

At all phases of the procedure, civil society actors and National Human Rights Institutions are encouraged to take into consideration the reports submitted by the State party to prepare their inputs. These submissions should aim to provide information considered relevant in view of the report of the State party, or to highlight other issues related to enforced disappearances and the respect of all the rights and obligations contained in the Convention in the State party concerned.

Formal requirements for written submissions

  1. Deadline: Written submissions have to be sent to the Committee within the deadlines indicated in the “Information note for victims, civil society organizations and National Human Rights Institutions” published before each session. Strict respect for those deadlines will enable the Committee to take into account adequately the submitted documents.
  2. Language: Written submissions must be in English, French or Spanish. As most Committee members use English as their working language, documents submitted in French and Spanish should, to the extent possible, be translated into English. Please note that the Secretariat does not translate documents submitted by civil society actors and National Human Rights Institutions.
  3. Form: Written submissions should be as concise and precise as possible. They should be limited to a maximum of 10,700 words (approx. 15 pages). All submissions should be sent in Word or PDF format by email to the following address: ohchr-ced@un.org

Content of written submissions

  1. Author: Identify the full name of the person or organization submitting the information (anonymous submissions are not accepted).
  2. Concerned State party: Indicate the State party to which the information relates.
  3. Confidentiality: Specify if you wish your submission to be made public or to be kept confidential. If you accept that it is made public, your submission will be published on the webpage of the Committee.
  4. Protection of victims: If your submission includes the names of victims and you wish it to be made public, you should ensure that you have the authorization of these persons or their representatives to do so, except if these names relate to cases of public knowledge. The Committee can at any time request evidence of such authorization.
  5. Substantive content: The submission must be relevant to the Committee’s mandate and to the examination of the State party’s report.
  6. Form of presentation: Submissions that follow the same structure as the report submitted by the State party concerned are highly encouraged.

Further suggestions regarding written submissions

Written submissions should:

  • Be as concise, specific, reliable, and objective as possible.
  • Be drafted in non-abusive language.
  • Highlight priority concerns and suggest possible country-specific recommendations.
  • Reports prepared by coalitions of organizations are encouraged.

II. Participating in the sessions of the Committee

Victims, civil society actors, and National Human Rights Institutions are also encouraged to participate in the sessions of the Committee.

Such participation is possible in person or through online video conference, and may take the following forms:

  1. Attendance of the public meetings as observers:
    Victims, civil society organizations, other civil society actors, and National Human Rights Institutions can attend all public meetings of the Committee, including for the interactive dialogue with the State party. However, such attendance is only possible as observers, which means that participants will not be able to address the Committee on that occasion (direct interaction with the Committee is possible in the formal and informal meetings - see below). All public meetings can also be followed on UN Web TV.
  2. Formal meetings with Committee members:
    Victims, civil society organizations, other civil society actors, and National Human Rights Institutions may address the Committee during a formal meeting at the beginning of the session to present their written contributions and reply to questions of the Committee. Oral interventions must be short (3 minutes each), and aim to underline the main points of the written contributions and reply to the questions of Committee experts. For the benefit of time, we recommend participants to coordinate their interventions and encourage presentations made on behalf of various organizations. These formal meetings have interpretation in Arabic, English, French, Spanish and Russian depending on the needs of the specific meeting, and are scheduled in the programme of work of each session.
  3. Informal meetings with Committee members:
    Informal briefings with Committee members (without interpretation) can also be organized. These meetings usually take place at lunch time, on the day prior to the examination of the State party concerned.

If you wish to participate in an in-person or online briefing to the Committee, please contact the Secretariat of the Committee through email at ohchr-ced@un.org, at least one month prior to the beginning of the session.

Accreditation and registration for the sessions

Victims, civil society organizations, other civil society actors, and National Human Rights Institutions wishing to attend a session in person or participate to an online briefing to the Committee are requested to register on Indico (www.indico.un.org). Details for accreditation are available in the “Information note for victims, civil society organizations and National Human Rights Institutions” that is published prior to each session. Please follow the instructions for registration and kindly ensure that you register well in advance.

Please note that the United Nations or the Committee do not send letters of invitation and cannot assist with visa requests, travel or accommodation related to the participation of victims and other civil society actors or National Human Rights Institutions in the sessions of Treaty Bodies.

Documentation for the sessions

All documentation relevant to a session can be consulted at the corresponding webpage. Here you will find:

  • Agenda and programme of work;
  • State party reports and related documentation;
  • Public submissions of civil society actors and NHRIs;
  • Other documents related to the session;
  • After the closure of the session, the statements and decisions adopted by the Committee can also be consulted on the page of the respective session.

III. Interaction related to specific cases of alleged violations of the Convention

Civil society actors and National Human Rights Institutions can also engage with the Committee with regard to cases in which it is alleged that a State party has violated the Convention. In such cases, victims, civil society organizations, lawyers, other civil society actors, and National Human Rights Institutions can request the support of the Committee through the following procedures:

  1. Requests for urgent actions under article 30 of the Convention
  2. Individual complaints/communications under article 31 of the Convention
  3. Country-specific information regarding violations:
    To bring information to the attention of the Committee related to an alleged violation of the Convention by a State party, victims, civil society organizations, other civil society actors, and National Human Rights Institutions can do so under articles 33 and 34 of the Convention:
    Article 33: if the CED receives information that a State party is seriously violating the provisions of the ICPPED, it may request to undertake a visit to that country.
    Article 34: if the CED receives information that enforced disappearance is being practiced on a widespread or systematic basis in a State party, it may urgently bring the matter to the attention of the General Assembly.

Such information should be sent to ohchr-ced@un.org and registry@ohchr.org.

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