REPORTS ON ANNUAL MEETINGS OF SPECIAL PROCEDURES MANDATE HOLDERS
Report of the Twelfth meeting of Special Rapporteurs/Representatives, Independent Experts and Chairs of Working Groups of the Special Procedures of the Commission on Human Rights and of the Advisory Services Programme (E/CN.4/2006/4)
B. Enhanced coordination
The Meeting agreed to establish a Coordination Committee, whose principal role will be to contribute to the ability of the individual experts to carry out their mandates in the most effective way and to promote the standing of the Special Procedures system within the broader framework of the United Nations and its human rights programs. It was agreed that the Coordination Committee for 2005-06 would consist of: Philip Alston (Chair of the annual meeting), Sigma Huda (Rapporteur of the annual meeting), Ghanim Alnajjar, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, and Leila Zerrougui.
The Committee's proposals will be of a recommendatory nature, designed to play a facilitative role. The Committee will have no role in relation to the substantive issues being dealt with by each special procedure. Its overall role will be limited in order to avoid an excessive workload for its members and to ensure the independence and autonomy of mandate holders.
The mandate will be reviewed by the meeting of special procedures in 2006 in light of experience in the first year.
The Committee's main function is to seek to assist coordination among mandate holders and to act as a bridge between them and the OHCHR, the broader UN human rights framework, and civil society.
Consequently, it should play a role in:
(a) Enhancing the effectiveness and independence of mandate holders and facilitating their work;
(b) Being available to mandate holders to share experience concerning methods of work;
(c) Ensuring that the concerns of the Special Procedures system are taken into account in the reform process, and reporting on the developments and progress in this regard;
(d) Proactively identifying issues of concern to groups of mandates and facilitating joint action on cross-cutting issues or issues of shared concern;
(e) Structuring the exchange of information and in particular keeping mandate holders informed of the activities carried out by colleagues; and
(f) Proposing a draft agenda for the Annual Meeting of the Special Procedures and presenting a report to the Meeting.
The Coordination Committee will not be a policy making body, nor will it set priorities or have a role in relation to substantive issues, except to express the collective concerns of the experts. It will not deal with issues of resources available to individual Special Procedures.
The Coordination Committee will consist of five members, including the Chair and the Rapporteur of the annual meeting. The Chair and the Rapporteur will select three more members from a list of nominees submitted to them by mandate holders. Those members shall be selected with a view to ensuring appropriate balance and diversity in terms of country and thematic mandates, geographical balance, gender, and experience in the special procedure system. There should be some continuity over time in the composition of the Committee.
The Coordination Committee members should be in touch via internet and conference calls. If need be, they should meet at an appropriate time during the course of the year, and should meet informally one day before the annual meeting. The Committee should oversee the development of a more effective system of communicating among mandate-holders involving an interactive webpage or ‘blog' open only to the experts themselves. The Coordination Committee needs to be provided with sufficient secretariat assistance so that the workload of the relevant mandate holders is only minimally increased.
Report of the Thirteenth meeting of Special Rapporteurs/Representatives, Independent Experts and Chairs of Working Groups of the Special Procedures of the Commissioner on Human Rights and of the Advisory Services Programme (A/HRC/4/43)
II. THE ACTIVITIES AND FUNCTIONS OF THE COORDINATION COMMITTEE
The outgoing chair of the Coordination Committee (CC) briefed participants on the activities of the CC. He reported on an exchange held by members of the CC with the High Commissioner the previous day, during which the role of special procedures in the context of the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was addressed.
Concerning the Manual of Special Procedures, which was adopted by the annual meeting in 1999, the CC had worked on an initial revision and updated the Manual to reflect the evolving practice of special procedures.
The Manual is intended to be a living document to be updated regularly. It is meant to provide guidance to mandate-holders. It was decided that after a preliminary discussion at the present annual meeting, mandate-holders, in a spirit of transparency, would call for comments on the draft from governments, civil society organizations, treaty bodies' experts and all other stake-holders in a period of 4 months. The CC would then go through the different comments to revise the manual accordingly. It would also issue an explanatory memorandum on major approaches in the comments, as well as reactions to them. The new draft would be circulated a month ahead of the 14 th meeting which should adopt the new manual. The new manual would be made public for reasons of transparency. Some participants stressed that the circulation of the manual would also serve educational purposes and would raise awareness about the role of special procedures.
The majority of participants expressed support for a stronger and more proactive role of the CC which would facilitate the interaction between special procedures and the HRC and increase synergies between mandate-holders. It would also ensure that mandate-holders speak with one voice, which is particularly important at a time where fundamental reforms, which could have an impact on the role of special procedures, are being discussed. Some participants stressed that while it was agreeable that there should be a mechanism of coordination this should not lead to conformity.
There was general agreement on the following points: the outgoing chair of the CC, or another member, should become an ex officio member of CC; due consideration should be given to geographical representation and gender balance in the elections of members; there should be a rotation system; the CC should be appointed for a one-year term; in case of vacancies, these should be filled through electronic consultations with all mandate-holders; the CC would as appropriate seek advice and assistance from other mandate-holders; the CC should not be a substitute for bilateral consultations between mandateholders and other institutions; the CC should respect the independence of mandate-holders; and the CC should circulate updates on its activities through e-mail.
In terms of the functions to be performed by the CC, several proposals were made, including: the participation of the CC in consultations regarding the review of mandates; bringing into the discussion with the HRC the concerns of mandate-holders, including the issue of cooperation with special procedures; advocating for more resources for special procedures in the context of the reform; identifying innovative ways to raise awareness about special procedures and their work; taking action in a proactive manner to ensure that the “rationalization” of mandates does not result in an erosion of the effectiveness of the system.
Report of the Fourteenth meeting of Special Rapporteurs/Representatives, Independent Experts and Chairs of Working Groups of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and of the Advisory Services Programme (A/HRC/7/29)
II. ACTIVITIES OF THE COORDINATION COMMITTEE
The outgoing Chair, Vitit Muntarbhorn, briefed participants on the activities of the Coordination Committee under his chairmanship.
The first thread of activities of the CC was related to interaction with the Human Rights Council and other stake-holders with regard to the institution building process. The aim was to ensure that the review of mandates would result in a more effective and strengthened system of special procedures. In this regard, t he Chair of the CC delivered two statements on behalf of the Special Procedures' mandate holders at the first and second sessions of the Human Rights Council.
At the second and fourth sessions of the Human Rights Council, the CC held meetings with the President of the Human Rights Council, the facilitators of the institution-building working groups of the HRC, and the coordinators of regional groups. The Chair gave a public briefing on 29 March 2007 in Geneva . During the final session of the Working Group on the Review of Mandates, in April 2007, the Chair of the CC again held meetings with the President of the Human Rights Council and other stake-holders.
The second thread of activities was related to facilitating cooperation among mandate-holders. The CC held two meetings, in Geneva and New York, and telephone conferences about every six weeks. Mandate-holders had been consulted by e-mail, telephone and other means on various occasions, with a view to facilitating cooperation and a common response to issues that arose during the year.
The third thread of activities referred to interaction with civil society. Throughout the year the CC had received comments and inputs from the civil society and had engaged in a fruitful discussion with several NGOs on issues of common interest, including the institution building process.
The outgoing Chair outlined a number of challenges which the annual meeting, and the new CC, would have to address, including: issues arising from the institution building process, including implementation of the Code of Conduct; the finalization of the special procedures manual; the analysis of protection gaps; the facilitation of an increasing number of joint activities; and the definition of the role and functions of the Coordination Committee in the new framework.
Report of the Fifteenth meeting of Special Rapporteurs/Representatives, Independent Experts and Chairs of Working Groups of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and of the Advisory Services Programme (A/HRC/7/29)
III. ACTIVITIES OF THE COORDINATION COMMITTEE
The outgoing Chair briefed participants on the activities of the Committee under her Chairship. She outlined a number of challenges that the new Committee had addressed since the previous annual meeting and that the special procedures were facing. These included the institution-building process under Council resolution 5/1, the implementation of the code of conduct adopted by the Council in its resolution 5/2, the revision of the manual of special procedures, the development by the Committee of an internal advisory procedure and the facilitation of an increasing number of joint activities.
The first thread of activities of the Committee related to interaction with the Council and other stakeholders with regard to the review of special procedures mandates by the Council. The aim was to ensure that the review of mandates would result in a more effective and strengthened system of special procedures. The second thread of activities related to the selection and appointment procedures mandate-holders; the Committee had submitted a letter to the President of the Council reflecting its views regarding the technical requirements for eligible candidates for mandate-holders. In that regard, at the sixth and seventh sessions of the Council, the Chair of the Committee held meetings with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the President of the Council, members of the consultative group, the coordinators of regional groups and representatives of non-governmental organizations. Through these meetings, the Committee had focused on the independence of the special procedures while articulating its views and trying to help develop confidence in the system of special procedures as a whole.
It was noted that the President’s statement adopted by the Council on 18 June 2008 on the terms of office of mandate-holders referred to compliance of mandate-holders with the code of conduct. It also acknowledged the Committee as a body representing the special procedures. Participants stressed that the new procedure would need to be applied transparently, fairly and non-selectively, consistent with the independence and the integrity of the special procedures as a whole, and that these same purposes were served by the internal advisory procedure set up under the auspices of the Committee.
The third thread of activities concerned the finalization of the special procedures manual. A draft was prepared by a task force and the Committee taking into account the comments submitted by stakeholders as well as the code of conduct adopted by the Council. It was sent to all mandate-holders for their comments. A final draft was prepared incorporating all comments received for discussion at the fifteenth annual meeting with a view to its adoption by all mandate-holders.
The Committee held some meetings in Geneva and telephone conferences about every six weeks. Mandate-holders had been consulted by e-mail, telephone and other means on various occasions, with a view to facilitating cooperation and a common response to issues that arose during the year.
Report of the Sixteenth meeting of Special Rapporteurs/Representatives, Independent Experts and Chairs of Working Groups of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and of the Advisory Services Programme (A/HRC/12/47)
III. ACTIVITIES OF THE COORDINATION COMMITTEE
The outgoing Chair briefed participants on the activities of the Committee under her Chairship and suggested further discussion on how best to guarantee the independence of mandate holders. She thanked all mandate holders for their valuable contributions to its work, as well as for the encouragement and confidence expressed over the past year. The Committee also gratefully acknowledged the professional and efficient support provided by OHCHR.
The main activities of the Committee in 2008/09 related to interaction with the Council and other stakeholders with regard to special procedures’ involvement in the work of the Council, including its special sessions; the safeguarding of the independence of special procedures; the review of special procedures mandates; and the selection and appointment of mandate holders. The Chair of the Committee and members had engaged in dialogue with the Council and other stakeholders. The Chair, inter alia, held meetings with the High Commissioner, the Deputy High Commissioner, the President of the Council, members of the Consultative Group and coordinators of the Council’s regional and other groups during the tenth session of the Council and on other occasions. During those meetings, the Chair had stressed the importance of the effectiveness and the independence of the special procedures system and the need for greater support by States for the work of the special procedures.
Regarding working methods, the former Chair noted that the final version of the Manual of Operations of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council was made public in September 2009. No objections had been raised formally through the Internal Advisory Procedure since the adoption of the Manual at the fifteenth meeting in June 2008. The Chair had engaged in discussions with the President of the Council regarding concerns about the apparent lack of commitment by some States to cooperate, with improper language used by those States in their interaction with special procedures mandate holders.
Participants asserted that the Committee should have an even more strategic and active role in promoting the effectiveness and independence of the system and ensuring constructive dialogue with the Human Rights Council, notably in relation to the implementation and interpretation of the Code of Conduct.
The Committee held a meeting in Geneva and telephone conferences about every two months. Mandate holders had been consulted by email, telephone and other means on various occasions, with a view to facilitating cooperation and responses to issues that had arisen during the year.
Report of the Seventeenth meeting of Special Rapporteurs/Representatives, Independent Experts and Chairpersons of Working Groups of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/15/44)
III. ACTIVITIES OF THE COORDINATION COMMITTEE
The former Chair of the Coordination Committee briefed participants on the activities of the Committee in 2009/2010 and made suggestions on how to strengthen the special procedures system. He thanked all mandate holders for their valuable contributions, as well as for their encouragement and confidence throughout the year.
The former Chair recalled that there had been numerous developments in relation to the mandate, role and functions of the Committee since 2005, and the Committee had taken a more proactive role to facilitate the interaction between special procedures, States and the Council, and increase collaboration and information-sharing between mandates to reinforce the system of special procedures. The Manual of Operations of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council had been revised; a more systematic approach to situations, especially in the context of crises, where collective responses by special procedures could be justified and desirable had been developed, and an increasing number of joint activities were being implemented. The Code of Conduct had been addressed through the Internal Advisory Procedure (IAP) on practices and working methods, which allows any stakeholder, including States and mandate holders, to bring issues to the attention of the Committee for advice and guidance.
The former Chair informed participants that during 2009/2010 action was taken in relation to the following issues: the selection procedure of new mandate holders; orientation sessions for new mandate holders; participation of special procedures in special sessions of the Council; facilitation of dialogue among mandate holders and States; guidance on working methods, including implementation of the Code of Conduct and the Internal Advisory Procedure; coordination of joint statements, including press releases; interaction with the President of the HRC, the members of the Consultative Group, other stakeholders, and the OHCHR in relation to a number of other thematic and country-related issues; and preparation of the annual meeting of mandate holders. It was noted that between 2009 and 2010, the IAP has been activated on two occasions by mandate holders. The outcome of the process had been communicated to those mandate holders, as well as to the HRC President.
Participants expressed deep appreciation for the work of the former Chair and other members of the Committee and wished the new Committee well. They agreed that when the next CC will be constituted, there would be a call for expressions of interest. They noted the need for regular and strengthened engagement by the Committee with the Council over the next year and referred to the upcoming Council review as an opportunity for the Committee. They stressed the importance of strengthening the special procedures system through the forthcoming review, and discussed concerns regarding the application of the Code of Conduct, in particular allegations of violations considered unjustified or unsubstantiated. The linkages between the special procedures system and the universal periodic review (UPR) were also highlighted, in particular the positive impact of the UPR in cases where mandates had been given access to countries for official visits. Participants encouraged the new Committee to explore substantive involvement in and participation by special procedures during the second cycle of the UPR.
The former Chair thanked the Special Procedures Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for its support to the Committee and for keeping mandate holders informed about developments at the Council throughout the year.