13 November 2023
The decision by United Nations (UN) treaty body (TB) Chairs to adopt ‘an eight-year review cycle for full reviews, with follow-up reviews in between’ highlights the necessity to enhance follow-up procedures, especially considering the extended interval between country interactions with TBs. Given this new 8-year cycle, it becomes crucial to explore how follow-up reviews could be undertaken at the regional level, thereby making the UN TB system more relevant, responsive and closer to rights holders and duty bearers.
Following Sierra Leone in December 2021 and Grenada in March 2022, the third and final UN human rights treaty body (TB) follow-up review pilot will take place in Fiji from 28 to 30 November 2023 with the participation of three Pacific Small Island Developing States, namely Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu.
Co-organized by our Geneva Human Rights Platform, the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Commonwealth Secretariat, and with the support of the Government of Fiji, it will focus on the implementation of the latest recommendations for follow-up issued by the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
‘This concluding follow-up review pilot, together with the initial two, enables a thorough evaluation of this novel approach, which brings UN TBs closer to domestic stakeholders and facilitates a more contextualized monitoring of their recommendations’ explains Felix Kirchmeier, Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.
‘It also includes – and this is a novelty – the participation of several Member States. This will allow us to assess the value of hosting follow-up reviews in regional/sub-regional UN headquarters as a way to maximise their strategic role’ he adds.
‘By bringing the TB review process to the region and rights holders, this pilot will strengthen the relationship and interactive dialogue between the Committee members and State Parties and create wider understanding and ownership at the national level for States towards their recommendations for implementation‘ underlines Miles Young, Director of the Human Rights and Social Development Division of SPC.
‘The Commonwealth Secretariat is pleased to extend its collaboration to deliver another pilot follow-up review, this time in the Pacific region, bringing the treaty body closer to the ground and fostering direct engagement amongst state representatives, stakeholders and treaty body members‘ stresses Dr Shavana Haythornthwaite, Head of Human Rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The delegation travelling to Fiji – members of the CEDAW, CRC and CRPD as well as representatives from the Geneva Human Rights Platform and the Commonwealth Secretariat – will exchange with government delegations and representatives from national human rights institutions (NHRIs), offices of the Ombudsman and civil society from the three participating Member States. The delegation will also seek meetings with relevant staff representing the UN Resident Coordinator Office and UN agencies that are part of the Pacific UN Country Team.
The discussions will revolve around a set of common issues in the three committees’ recommendations, including gender-based violence against women and girls, the impact of climate change and natural disasters on the rights of women and children, corporal punishment, as well as women and children with disabilities. This approach will allow participants to address the question of overlapping recommendations and strengthen the capacity of all national human rights actors, TB members, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UN Country Teams and development partners to tailor precise follow-up initiatives at the national level.
‘Unlike the previous two pilots, this exercise introduces a pioneering approach to TB follow-up by regionalizing the review process, thus enhancing its accessibility, visibility and alignment with the specific needs and challenges that states in the region face in upholding human rights treaties. Such approach is crucial to address issues like the human rights harms caused by climate change that impacts all countries in the region’ explains Dr Domenico Zipoli, Project Coordinator at the Geneva Human Rights Platform.
‘Samoa hosted the historic 84th Extraordinary Outreach Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC84) in March 2020, which demonstrated how such an approach allows a wide range of stakeholders, including marginalized groups, to participate more fully in the TB process’ underlines Miles Young.
Following Sierra Leone and Grenada, the third and final UN human rights treaty body follow-up review pilot will take place in Fiji with the participation of three Pacific Small Island Developing States, namely Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu.
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