Decisions adopted and matters discussed by the Committee at
its twenty-second, twenty-third and twenty-fourth sessions : . 01/12/2000.
Convention Abbreviation: CESCR
Decisions adopted and matters discussed by the Committee at
its twenty-second, twenty-third and twenty-fourth sessions
Methods of work: periodicity of reporting
636. The Committee's rules of procedure require that, after submission of a State party's initial report, subsequent periodic reports should be submitted to the Committee at five-year intervals (rule 58). However, given that many States submit their reports late and the Committee's consideration of reports is usually delayed due to a lack of resources, a strict interpretation of the five-year rule may lead to the situation where a State party's next periodic report is due in the same year as the Committee's consideration of the State's preceding report.
637. The Committee at its twenty-second to twenty-fourth sessions considered how to respond in an effective, constructive, realistic, fair and consistent manner to this problem, without rewarding those State parties that routinely submit late reports. At its 83rd meeting (twenty-fourth session), held on 30 November 2000, the Committee resolved that, as a general rule, a State party's next periodic report should be submitted five years after the Committee's consideration of the State's preceding report, but that the Committee may reduce this five-year period on the basis of the following criteria and taking into account all relevant circumstances:
(a) The timeliness of the State party's submission of its reports in relation to the implementation of the Covenant;
(b) The quality of all the information, such as reports and replies to lists of issues, submitted by the State party;
(c) The quality of the constructive dialogue between the Committee and the State party;
(d) The adequacy of the State party's response to the Committee's concluding observations;
(e) The State party's actual record, in practice, regarding implementation of the Covenant in relation to all individuals and groups within its jurisdiction.
638. When seeking to apply these criteria in a balanced and rational manner, the Committee will be guided by the need to enhance its working methods so as to ensure the most effective implementation of the Covenant.
639. At its 18th and 19th meetings (twenty-second session), held on 8 May 2000, the Committee considered under agenda item 3 (Substantive issues arising in the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) a draft general comment on the right to health. In addition to the Committee's members, representatives of United Nations specialized agencies, non-governmental organizations and individual experts actively participated in the discussion of the draft. General Comment No. 14 (2000) on the right to the highest attainable standard of health (art. 12 of the Covenant) was adopted by the Committee at its 25th meeting, on 11 May 2000 (see annex IV below). The Committee expressed its gratitude to Mr. Eibe Riedel who assumed the principal responsibility for drafting and finalizing the text.
640. The Committee also expressed its deep appreciation to those experts who provided their comments on the draft general comment both before the session in writing and orally in the course of its discussion. The Committee was particularly grateful to WHO for the expert advice provided at all stages of the drafting process. Thanks for their valuable and longstanding cooperation with the Committee and contribution to the drafting of the general comment were addressed to the following United Nations specialized agencies, non-governmental organizations and individual experts: ILO, UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank; Pan-American Health Organization; American Association for the Advancement of Science, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Centro de Asesoria Laboral del Peru, Child in Need Institute (India), Commonwealth Medical Association, FIAN - Foodfirst International Action Network, Habitat International Coalition, International Anti-Poverty Law Center, Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Rights and Humanity; Mr. Fons Coomans, Maastricht University (Netherlands), Mr. Aart Hendriks, Advisory Council on Health Research, The Hague (Netherlands), Mr. George Kent, University of Hawai'i, Honolulu (United States of America), Dr. Jean Martin, Cantonal physician, Lausanne (Switzerland), Ms. Brigit Toebes, The Hague (Netherlands), Ms. Alicia Ely Yamin, Columbia University, New York (United States of America).
Day of general discussion on article 15, paragraph 1 (c) of the Covenant
641. At its twenty-fourth session on 27 November 2000, the Committee held its day of general discussion organized in cooperation with WIPO, on the right of everyone to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author (art. 15, para. 1 (c), of the Covenant). The discussion paper prepared by Ms. Audrey Chapman (E/C.12/2000/12) and background documents submitted by specialized agencies, United Nations programmes and individual experts (E/C.12/2000/13 to 20) have been published in all working languages of the Committee. The day of general discussion was attended by representatives of interested intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, as well as by individual experts who actively participated in the discussion. The Committee particularly appreciated the cooperation of WIPO as well as the active participation of WTO and UNESCO. The Committee decided, as a follow-up to the discussion, to commence the drafting of a general comment on article 15, paragraph 1 (c) (see chap. VI above).
Day of general discussion at the twenty-fifth session
642. The Committee decided to devote its next day of general discussion, to be held on 7 May 2001, to consultations with the international financial institutions and development agencies to discuss matters of common interest and concern.
World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
643. At its twenty-second to twenty-fourth sessions, the Committee continued to discuss, under agenda item 3 (Substantive issues arising in the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), issues related to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. The Committee reconfirmed its decision taken at its twenty-first session by which it had decided to submit its General Comments No. 11 (1999) on plans of action for primary education (art. 14 of the Covenant) and No. 13 (1999) on the right to education (art. 13 of the Covenant), accompanied by an explanatory introduction, as its contribution to the World Conference. The Committee also decided that, in its consideration of States parties' reports, it would request States parties to provide information on measures taken within the framework of the preparatory activities for the World Conference and after the World Conference on follow-up at the national level to the recommendations adopted by the Conference, in particular regarding its implications for the effective promotion and protection of the economic, social and cultural rights enshrined in the Covenant.
Cooperation with other bodies and special procedures' mechanisms
within the United Nations human rights system
644. With a view to enhancing its efficiency and quality of work, the Committee has sought for many years to cooperate appropriately with other parts of the United Nations human rights system.
(a) The Committee's meeting with the Special Rapporteur on the question of adequate housing of the Commission on Human Rights
645. At its 80th meeting, held on 29 November 2000, the Committee welcomed Mr. Miloon Kothari, who was recently appointed by the Commission on Human Rights as the Special Rapporteur on the question of adequate housing. While outlining how he expected to approach his mandate, the Special Rapporteur remarked upon the complementary, but distinct, roles of the Special Rapporteur and the Committee. He and several Committee members emphasized that the Special Rapporteur and Committee should cooperate so as to enhance their respective responsibilities. It was noted that complementary, reciprocal follow-up regarding the Special Rapporteur's country-specific recommendations and the Committee's concluding observations was a particularly promising area of cooperation.
(b) Participation at a workshop with members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the right to education
646. Through its Chairperson, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights accepted an invitation to send a representative to a workshop with members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on aspects of the right to education. The workshop, which was organized by Save the Children (Sweden) and took place in Stockholm from 23 to 24 November 2000, discussed the projected general comment of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the aims of education. During the workshop, the representative of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights presented and discussed Committee General Comments No. 11 (1999) on plans of action for primary education (art. 13 of the Covenant) and No. 13 (1999) on the right to education (art. 14 of the Covenant). The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights warmly welcomed this cooperation with the Committee on the Rights of the Child and hoped that it might be further developed in the future.
Designation of a focal point on the right to development
647. At its twenty-fourth session the Committee, having followed for many years the work being done within the United Nations with respect to the right to development, designated Ms. Virginia Bonoan-Dandan and Mr. Eibe Riedel as the Committee's focal point on right to development issues, including the activities of the Commission on Human Rights (Working Group on the Right to Development and Independent expert on the right to development).
Cooperation with international financial institutions
648. In 2000 the Committee continued to explore possibilities to enhance its cooperation with international financial institutions within the framework of its mandate as defined by the Covenant and relevant decisions of the Economic and Social Council. The Committee noted with satisfaction the more active participation of the World Bank and IMF in its activities, particularly in its days of general discussion and consideration and adoption of general comments. On 7 September 2000, the Chairperson of the Committee sent a letter to the President of the World Bank and to the Managing Director of IMF (see annex VI, sect. A, below), drawing their attention to the human rights dimension inherent in the new Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and in the Heavily Indebted Poor Country initiative for debt relief. Both institutions responded positively to the above letter (World Bank President in a letter dated 26 September 2000 (ibid., sect. B) and IMF Managing Director by a letter dated 14 November 2000 (ibid., sect. C)), welcoming greater dialogue with the Committee on these issues.
Enhancing collaboration with UNESCO
649. At its twenty-second to twenty-fourth sessions the Committee noted with appreciation the more active participation of UNESCO in its work, particularly information provided both in writing and orally by the UNESCO representative coming from Headquarters in respect of the States parties' reports considered by the Committee at these sessions. The Committee also greatly appreciated the contribution made by UNESCO representatives to its day of general discussion on article 15, paragraph 1 (c), held on 27 November 2000 and regarding the drafting of the two general comments on the right to education adopted by the Committee at its twentieth and twenty-first sessions in 1999. Building on the positive experience acquired during last year, the Committee, in a letter of 22 August 2000 addressed by its Chairperson to the Director-General of UNESCO (see annex VII, sect. 1, below), expressed its wish to strengthen the cooperation with UNESCO with a view to accomplishing common objectives. The Director-General of UNESCO, in a letter dated 10 November 2000 (ibid., sect. B), particularly appreciated the Committee's initiative aimed at enhancing collaboration between UNESCO and the Committee in a mutually complementary spirit, and congratulated the Committee on the excellent work it is doing in monitoring implementation of the rights enshrined in the Covenant, especially the right to education.
The Committee's statement to the Convention to draft a Charter of
Fundamental Rights of the European Union
650. At its twenty-second session the Committee adopted a Statement with respect to the discussion by the Convention to draft a Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union as far as it relates to economic, social and cultural rights. In a letter dated 27 April 2000 addressed to the President of the Convention, the Chairperson of the Committee brought this Statement to the attention of the Convention (see annex VIII to this report).
Non-governmental organizations paper
651. The Committee attaches great importance to cooperation with all non-governmental organizations active in the field of economic, social and cultural rights - local, national and international, those in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and those without such status. The Committee constantly encourages their participation in its activities. In an effort to secure the most effective and widest possible participation of non-governmental organizations in its activities, the Committee adopted, at its eighth session, in 1993, a procedure relating to non-governmental organization participation, which explains in a concise manner the modalities of these organizations' participation in the Committee's work. See Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1994, Supplement No. 3 (E/1994/23-E/C.12/1993/19), chap. VII, para. 354. The basic principles set out in this procedure have since been supplemented, as the Committee's practice has evolved. These developments are reflected in the annual reports of the Committee, in the chapter entitled "Review of the methods of work of the Committee".
652. At its twenty-third session, the Committee noted with appreciation a note by the secretariat entitled "Non-governmental organization participation in the activities of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights" (E/C.12/2000/6), which updates the procedure for non-governmental organization participation in the Committee's activities. At its twenty-fourth session the Committee adopted the text of the note (see annex V below).
Assistance by the secretariat
653. The Committee noted with appreciation the increasing flow of public information it is receiving from the secretariat, particularly from relevant country desk officers (Activities and Programs Branch) and others within the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, prior to the Committee's consideration of States parties' reports. The Committee also noted with appreciation information provided by the Secretariat to the Committee's pre-sessional working group, the main function of which is to adopt written lists of issues with respect to the States parties' reports received by the Committee and pending consideration. Since such information improves the Committee's efficiency and the quality of its work, particularly as far as its constructive dialogue with the States parties is concerned, the Committee hoped that this enhanced cooperation would continue to develop and become a firmly established feature of the Committee's working methods.