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NHRIs expert meeting on strengthening the human rights treaty ...

By Darrell Coleman,2015-03-20 07:32
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NHRIs expert meeting on strengthening the human rights treaty ...

    Marrakech Statement

     on strengthening the relationship between NHRIs and the

    human rights treaty bodies system

    10 June 2010

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Introduction

    1. The Advisory Council on Human Rights of Morocco organized from

    9 to 10 June 2010 in Marrakech a meeting of National Human Rights

    Institutions (NHRIs) to reflect on the future of human rights treaty

    bodies. This meeting was a response to the 2009 call of the United

    Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem

    Pillay, who requested States Parties to human rights treaties, as well

    as NHRIs, treaty body members, civil society actors and other

    stakeholders to initiate a process of reflection on how to streamline

    and strengthen the treaty body system.

    2. This meeting was attended by representatives of NHRIs from all

    regional networks of these institutions. Treaty body experts and

    representatives of OHCHR participated as observers to the meeting.

    3. NHRIs participants extend special appreciation to the Advisory

    Council on Human Rights, the hosting institution, for the preparation

    of this meeting and its warm hospitality.

    4. For NHRIs streamlining and strengthening the human right treaty

    body systems is necessary in order to better promote and protect

    human rights at the national level in every country. Participants

    strongly acknowledged the longstanding and productive

    cooperation among human rights treaty bodies and national

    human rights institutions and recognized the significant and

    complementary role of both in promoting and protecting human

    rights worldwide.

    5. Participants in the meeting reaffirmed their belief that the human

    rights treaty bodies, as central pillars in the United Nations human

    rights system, have a fundamental role in promoting and protecting

    human rights due to the legal nature of their mandates. Participants

    recalled that, through voluntary and sovereign decisions, States

    commit themselves to implement and respect the legal obligations

    provided for in each international core human rights treaty and in

    this regard, reiterated that treaty body recommendations should be

    implemented as they derive from legal obligations in the field of

    human rights. Participants furthermore underlined that the

    recommendations by human rights treaty bodies constitute a

    unique and solid basis for intergovernmental action promoting and

    protecting human rights.

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    6. With the increase of the number of human rights treaty bodies and

    adoption of new optional protocols since 2008 (Committee on the

    Rights of Persons with Disabilities and related optional protocol,

    Optional Protocol on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

    Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and the soon to be

    established Committee for the Protection of All Persons from

    Enforced Disappearance), the need for the harmonization of

    working methods of treaty bodies is becoming even more relevant

    and urgent. The current wide variety and diversity of existing

    practices among treaty bodies in their interaction with NHRIs is

    challenging and at times reduces the capacity of NHRIs to

    significantly contribute to the work of the treaty body system.

    7. Additional instruments, increased ratification and reporting have

    clearly led to a situation where additional funding is required if TBs

    are to fulfil efficiently their mandate. Insufficient TBs’ meeting time

    and frequent lack of translation of documents are two examples of

    serious limitations in the current system.

    8. Recognizing the particularities of each treaty and related treaty

    body and the need to preserve their original mandates and specific

    knowledge, nevertheless the participants emphasize the compelling

    need for greater harmonisation between them.

    9. Participants noted with appreciation the outcome of the 2006

    Berlin international roundtable on the role of national human rights

    institutions and treaty bodies and of the 2009 Dublin Statement on

    the Process of Strengthening of the United Nations Human Rights

    Treaty Body System.

    10. Participants fully acknowledged that the rapid growth of the TBs

    system has resulted in a significant reporting burden for SPs. These

    difficulties also impact on the NHRIs capacity to interact with TBs in a

    meaningful manner and overburden the whole reporting

    system.Theyalso weaken the capacity building and the follow-up

    programmes and activities.

    11. Participants emphasized the need to have NHRIs established in all

    States, in full conformity with the Paris Principles in order to maximise

    the quality of their cooperation with TBs and ultimately assist

    effectivelywith human rights implementation.

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    12. Participants also urged States to adequately financially resource

    NHRIs to ensure that they have the capacity to fulfil their human

    rights mandate.

    13. On the basis of discussions held in Marrakech, participants agreed

    on the following in order to strengthen the human rights treaty

    bodies:

    NHRIs perspectives on the TB strengthening process

    14. The multiple challenges which the treaty body system confronts are

    indications that it change and significant enhancement if it is to

    achieve its objectives.

    15. The multiplication of human rights mechanisms referred to above

    has increased the risk of substantive overlap, contradiction, lack of

    coordination and a fragmentation of the human rights protection

    system. The impact at country level of the work of these procedures

    is therefore being significantly weakened.

    16. In order to strengthen the treaty body system in this new and rapidly

    evolving context, NHRI participants recommend that treaty bodies

    should, among other things:

    a) streamline the reporting system with a view to reducing the

    volume of documentation to be considered by the treaty bodies.

    This will facilitate reporting by States parties, and contribute to

    ensuring high quality review with an effective outcome. In order

    to achieve this objective, All treaty bodies’ documentation,

    including states parties’ reports, should be strictly limited to the

    recommended number of pages, in accordance with the

    harmonized reporting guidelines adopted by the Inter-

    Committee Meeting and Chair Persons Meeting

    (HRI/GEN/2/Rev6);

    b) insist that State Parties submit and regularly update the common

    core document and treaty specific reports and that new and

    innovative working methods and procedures, such as the lists of

    issues prior to reporting be further explored with a view to better

    focus the debate on the key strategic priorities in States Parties

    under review as established by the treaty bodies; and

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    c) make recommendations that are targeted, focused and treaty

    based. They should also make increasing use of cross-references

    to the work of other treaty bodies avoid inconsistencies and,

    where appropriate, reinforce other treaty body

    recommendations.

    17. NHRIs participants stressed the usefulness of TBs general comments

    as an important tool for the implementation of convention

    obligations and related TBs recommendations by States Parties,

    including as guidance for law reform and policies and interpretation

    of human rights treaties provisions. They recommended increased

    development of general comments and where appropriate joint

    general comment to reinforce the indivisibility and

    interdependence of all human rights; and requested that NHRIs are

    consulted during the drafting process.

    18. NHRIs participants recommended that treaty bodies meet

    periodically outside Geneva and New York in regional centres to

    bring the treaty body procedures closer to rights and duty holders.

Recommendations to UN Member States

    19. NHRIs participants recommend to member States of the United

    Nations, that they should allocate adequate resources for the

    human right treaty body system.

    20. NHRIs participants recommend that State Parties nominate treaty

    body experts in accordance with a consultative and transparent

    process involving all sectors of society including NHRIs. National

    candidates should be selected on the basis of their competence,

    integrity, impartiality and independence.

    21. NHRIs emphasized the importance for SPs holding national

    consultations, as they are required to do for the UPR report, during

    the preparation of their reports to be submitted to TBs. State Parties

    must ensure that NHRIs are able to play key role in the national

    consultation process.

Cooperation between NHRIs and TBs

    22. Participants urged all treaty bodies to take due account of the

    independent status of “A” accredited NHRIs and the particular role

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    that they have in national human right protection and contribution they can make to the treaty monitoring process.

    23. In order to enhance access to treaty bodies and ensure follow-up by NHRIs to the treaty body recommendations, NHRI participants recommend that:

    a) the reporting process and individual communication procedures

    be as much as possible aligned, through common rules of

    procedure and working methods, among treaty bodies in order

    to establish similar procedures for cooperation with NHRIs and

    other key national actors, including with respect to the format

    and timing of submission of written information, and the oral

    presentations;

    b) treaty bodies invite NHRIs and other key national actors to

    provide information, on a systematic basis, in relation to their

    respective follow-up procedures. To this end, NHRI participation

    in the existing treaty body follow-up procedures or activities as

    well as country inquiries should be encouraged, systematised,

    and harmonised; and

    c) the draft harmonised approach to NHRIs engagement with

    treaty bodies, adopted at the 2006 Berlin meeting, be fully

    implemented.

    NHRIs commitments to the process of strengthening the TB

    system

    24. NHRI participants reiterated their commitment to support to their maximum capacity the work of the treaty bodies system including amongst others by:

    a) actively promoting the ratification of all core international

    human rights treaties and optional protocols; withdrawing

    reservations; ensuring the participation of States in existing

    procedures for individual complaints and

    enquiries;b)strengthening their working methods and their

    participation in the treaty body system for instance by

    submitting authoritative information highlighting issues of

    concern to be addressed and by actively participating in treaty

    bodies’ activities thereby ensuring that treaty body

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    recommendations have greater impact on the promotion and

    protection of human rights at the country level.

    25. Recognizing that it is the primary responsibility of the States to

    disseminate the outputs of treaty bodies to all sectors of society and

    in accessible languages, NHRIs especially highlighted the need to

    bring them to the attention of concerned sectors of Government,

    the Judiciary and Parliament. In addition, NHRI participants

    reiterated their readiness to publicise and disseminate the core

    international human rights instruments, as well as the treaty bodies’

    concluding observations, general recommendations, views on any

    national individual communications as well as enquiries.

    26. NHRI participants also underlined their commitment to keep under

    review the State party’s implementation of its obligations under the

    international human rights conventions.

    27. NHRI participants reiterated the need to raise awareness about the

    TBs individual communications procedure and, whenever

    appropriate, to support their use by victims. In addition, NHRIs are

    also encouraged to be strategic in promoting cases that may build

    specific jurisprudence to be used at the domestic level, as well as to

    follow-up on the implementation of views adopted by TBs at

    domestic level, disseminate them and use them in their human

    rights education training programmes.

    28. In light of their particular mandate and given the importance of

    ensuring follow-up to the work of treaty bodies, NHRI participants

    are committed to organising more training activities, including on a

    regional basis, during which good practices could be shared. In this

    regard, NHRI participants underlined their ability and willingness to

    assist in the holding of training activities, on the treaty body

    reporting and implementation process, for all stakeholders at the

    national and international level.

    Request to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

    29. NHRI participants recommended that the Office of the United

    Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in cooperation with

    the International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs and regional

    networks of NHRI’s, establishes a capacity building project with a

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    view to enabling NHRIs to give and receive training in relation to

    follow-up to treaty body recommendations as well as treaty body

    reporting.

    30. NHRI participants are committed to making best use of existing tools

    provided by the OHCHR and requested in addition the

    development of a handbook by the OHCHR specifically for NHRIs,

    drawing on existing material, covering interaction with TBs guidelines

    on how to participate at all stages and information on best

    practices on follow-up to recommendations.

In conclusion

    31. NHRIs participants are committed to continuing involvement in the

    process of strengthening treaty body systems.

    32. NHRIs participants having adopted this statement also requested its

    endorsement by the ICC.

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