Recent decisions on procedures : . 26/10/2001.
Convention Abbreviation: CCPR
A. Recent decisions on procedures
50. At its sixty-fifth session in March 1999, the Committee decided that the lists of issues for the examination of States parties' reports should henceforth be adopted at the session prior to the examination of the report, thereby allowing a period of at least two months for States parties to prepare for the discussion with the Committee. Central to the consideration of States parties reports is the oral hearing, where the delegations of States parties have the opportunity to answer specific questions from Committee members. Thus, States parties are encouraged to use the list of issues better to prepare for a constructive discussion, but are not expected to submit written answers. This new practice was put into effect at the sixty-sixth session, at which the lists of issues for the sixty-seventh session were adopted. There has been some progress with the implementation of the new practice; the Committee, however, notes that if States parties do submit written answers to lists of issues, they should do so well in advance of the examination of the report, to ensure that the translation of the replies into the Committee's working languages is produced in time.
51. In October 1999, the Committee adopted new consolidated guidelines on State parties' reports, which replaced all prior guidelines and are designed to facilitate the preparation of initial and periodic reports by States parties (see also paragraph 16 above). The guidelines provide for comprehensive initial reports, prepared on an article-by-article basis, and focused periodic reports geared primarily to the Committee's concluding observations on the previous report of the State party concerned. In their periodic reports, States parties need not report on every single article of the Covenant, but only on those provisions identified by the Committee in its concluding observations and those articles in respect of which there have been significant developments since the submission of the previous report. These consolidated guidelines were once again modified during the seventieth session (October 2000) on the basis of proposals made by a working group of the Committee mandated to review the Committee's working methods under article 40 of the Covenant. The revised consolidated guidelines have been issued as document CCPR/C/66/GUI/Rev.2, dated 26 February 2001 (see annex III.A).
52. During the sixty-eighth, sixty-ninth and seventieth sessions of the Committee, a working group composed of Ms. Chanet, Viscount Colville of Culross, Mr. Klein (Chair) and Mr. Yalden discussed possible ways of improving, and making more effective, the Committee's reporting procedure under article 40. This working group proposed relevant amendments to the Committee's rules of procedure, which were discussed by the Committee plenary in detail during the seventieth session. The amendments, which concern primarily the State reporting procedure, are aimed at reducing the reporting burden on States parties and designed to simplify the procedure.
53. The amendments introduce procedures for dealing with situations where States parties have failed to honour their reporting obligations over several reporting cycles, or request a postponement of their scheduled appearance before the Committee at short notice. In both situations, the Committee may henceforth serve notice on the States concerned that it intends to examine, on the basis of material available to it, the measures adopted by that State party with a view to giving effect to the provisions of the Covenant, even in the absence of a report. The amended rules of procedure also introduce a follow-up procedure to the concluding observations of the Committee: rather than a set time limit for the submission of its next report being established in the last paragraph of the concluding observations, the State party will be requested to report back to the Committee within a specified period with responses to the Committee's recommendations, indicating what steps, if any, it has taken to meet the recommendations. Such responses will thereafter be examined by a group of Committee members, and result in the determination by the plenary of the Committee of a definitive time limit for the submission of the next report.
54. Another working group appointed by the Committee and composed of Ms. Chanet, Mr. Klein (Chair), Sir Nigel Rodley and Mr. Yalden made several further proposals for amendments of the rules of procedure during the seventy-first session. The amendments to the rules were formally adopted at the Committee's 1924th meeting, during the seventy-first session. The revised rules of procedure have been issued as document CCPR/C/3/Rev.6 and Corr.1; they are reproduced in annex III.B to the present report. All States parties to the Covenant have been informed of the amendments to the rules of procedure; the Committee has applied the revised rules since the end of the seventy-first session.