Decisions adopted by the Committee at its eleventh session : . 09/12/94.
Convention Abbreviation: CESCR
B. Decisions adopted by the Committee at its eleventh session
Facilities for treaty body members
404. The Committee noted that when the 90 or more members of the 6 human rights treaty bodies were at Geneva for a session of their respective committees, no facilities whatsoever were provided for them by the Centre for Human Rights. The result was that any Committee-related work done during the working day must be done in the United Nations Library, the cafeteria or the public Conference Room.
405. There was nowhere other than a public booth from which a telephone call could be made; there was nowhere that bags, papers or coats could safely be left; and there was nowhere that access could be obtained to a computer or other relevant office facilities. In view of the demands on the time of the Committee members and of the need to provide an efficient working environment, the Committee called upon the Centre for Human Rights to set aside a room to be used for that purpose whenever sessions of the different treaty bodies were meeting at Geneva. It noted that that would at least put independent expert members of the treaty bodies on the same level as interns in the Centre for Human Rights.
Resource and documentation centre
406. The Committee recalled that since the late 1980s it had been calling upon the Centre for Human Rights to develop a resource and documentation centre which would provide a basis from which the research and analysis that were indispensable to effective and accurate monitoring could be conducted. It noted with regret that, despite the endorsement of this request by successive meetings of the chairpersons of the various human rights treaty bodies, and despite repeated assurances by successive heads of the Centre for Human Rights that something would be done, the situation remained exactly as it had been five years earlier. The Committee therefore called upon the Centre to initiate urgent action designed to fill this lacuna. It requested the Assistant Secretary-General to provide it, at its twelfth session, with a clear and unequivocal statement of the measures that had been taken in that regard and of any timetable that had been established.
407. The Committee expressed its appreciation for the briefing that it had been given by a representative of the Centre who had provided details of progress to date in terms of establishing a computer network within the Centre, links with the outside world and the development of databases. The Committee noted with deep disappointment that it had so far taken the Centre five years to begin the creation of even an elementary database containing the basic materials required by the treaty bodies. It expressed the hope that measures would be taken to achieve far more rapid progress over the coming 12 months and looked forward to receiving regular updates on progress achieved.
Preparation of a video on the work of the Committee
408. The Committee recognized the vital importance of human rights education, including the promotion of knowledge and a better understanding of the role and methods of work of the various human rights treaty bodies. It noted with regret that the statement provided to it at its eleventh session by a representative of the Department of Public Information had not identified a single activity focusing specifically and exclusively on either the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights or on the work of the Committee.
409. In view of the pressing need to develop a better understanding of the role of the Committee and of the relevant rights, the Committee called upon the Centre for Human Rights in collaboration with the Department of Public Information to undertake the preparation of a video which would explain and illustrate those issues to the general public. The Committee would be pleased to cooperate in such an endeavour and requested the Secretariat to respond to that request at the Committee's twelfth session.
Day of general discussion
410. The Committee decided that the day of general discussion to be held at its twelfth session, on Monday 15 May 1995, would focus on the interpretation and practical application of the obligations incumbent upon States parties to the Covenant. That focus was partly designed to assist the new members of the Committee and partly to provide an opportunity for the Committee as a whole to discuss the most appropriate and effective ways of promoting compliance by States parties with their obligations.
411. The Committee decided that at its twelfth session it would give priority to ensuring the completion and adoption of its draft general comment on the rights of older persons.
Country-specific information from United Nations sources
412. The Committee attached major importance to obtaining full and regular access to all information of direct relevance to its mandate and which might be available from the principal United Nations bodies and agencies. It therefore requested its Chairperson to correspond with the relevant bodies, and particularly UNDP, UNICEF and the World Bank, with a view to requesting them to make available to it on a regular basis their reports on the situation of economic, social and cultural rights relating to each country whose report was being considered by the Committee at each of its sessions.
Timely publication of the Committee's annual report
413. The Committee noted that in the past its report, although adopted and completed in December, had not been published until May or June of the following year. It appeared that this delay was caused by an assumption on the part of the Secretariat in New York that the report was not required until the session of the Economic and Social Council at which it was to be considered. The Committee regretted that delay which inconvenienced States parties, members of the Committee, other United Nations human rights bodies, non-governmental organizations and the general public. Accordingly, it called upon the relevant authorities to do their utmost to ensure rapid publication of the report as soon as it was received from Geneva.
414. The Committee expressed its appreciation to the Centre for Human Rights for the paper which it had prepared at the Committee's request detailing "Activities undertaken so far within the Advisory Services Programme and proposals for the type of assistance that can be envisaged for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights" (E/C.12/1994/WP.9). It also greatly appreciated the frank and constructive discussion it had been able to have with a representative of the Centre.
415. The Committee considered that while economic, social and cultural rights had been included in a number of the activities undertaken within the Advisory Services Programme, it was not possible to identify any single initiative which had focused exclusively or in any significant depth on those rights. It wished to emphasize that the consideration of issues relating to economic, social and cultural rights within a genuine human rights framework required much more than a traditional analysis of the factual situation relating, for example, to nutrition, literacy or health care. What was required was a clear emphasis upon the obligations contained in the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the identification of appropriate benchmarks in the State concerned for the realization of those rights, and the identification of appropriate means of monitoring and vindication of the rights in question. In the absence of those elements, an analysis of what purported to be the economic and social rights situation of a country was highly unlikely to add anything to the work carried out by development agencies such as UNDP and the World Bank, whose work was not based upon a human rights framework, as the Advisory Services Programme must be.
416. The Committee therefore called upon the Centre for Human Rights to identify specific activities which it might undertake in an endeavour to give appropriate attention to economic, social and cultural rights in the Advisory Services Programme in the future. Once this had been done, the Centre was requested to inform States specifically as to the specialist services which should be provided in this field. The Committee noted that, in the continuing absence of any expert in this area within the Centre, the likelihood of effective specialist programmes being developed was not great.
417. In terms of training and related activities, the Committee reiterated its view that those were usually best undertaken at the national or subregional level rather than on a regional or global basis. The Committee also emphasized the importance of ensuring the participation of individuals who were best placed to make effective use of the training provided.