New Guidelines for Human Rights Treaty Reporting:
Opportunities for Women's Human Rights NGOs
International Women's Rights Action Watch
FINAL DRAFT FOR COMMENT
This guide was prepared by IWRAW Director Marsha A. Freeman, with assistance from intern Jessica A. Jansyn, research assistant Joelle Gotwals, and Cram Dalton Scholar Natalie Hoover. We could not have done it without them. Preparation of this guide was supported by the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, New York, and the Catharine A. Cram Women’s Human Rights Fund at the University of Minnesota.
As the United Nations undertakes major reform in its human rights monitoring system, women’s human rights advocates have a new opportunity to expand their impact. In 2006 the Chairpersons of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies endorsed the first part of a new set of “Harmonized Guidelines” for preparing States parties’ reports. These new Harmonized Guidelines require States parties to provide to the treaty monitoring bodies one basic document, the common core document (CCD), that includes a full account of their laws, policies, and infrastructure relating to human rights policy and implementation, including non-discrimination, equality, and remedies for discrimination. Additional treaty-specific reports are still required, but with somewhat more limited scope than under prior guidelines (see __ below).
The CCD is to be used by all the treaty bodies in their reviews of States parties’ treaty compliance. Because all of the United Nations treaty monitoring bodies have a process for consideration of information provided by NGOs as “shadow reports,” NGO advocates can highlight the dimensions of discrimination against women under all the United Nations human rights treaties in a single CCD shadow report on laws, policies, and institutions relating to discrimination on grounds of sex and gender.
A CCD shadow report may be submitted by NGOs to a treaty monitoring body even without presenting a treaty-specific shadow report. NGOs can prepare a single CCD shadow report that can be submitted to all the treaty bodies, thus multiplying scrutiny of the State party’s performance on issues of sex and gender discrimination.
This guide is designed to assist NGOs in using these new reporting guidelines and the opportunities they present.
The New Structure of Reports to United Nations Human Rights Treaty Monitoring BodiesGovernments that have ratified United Nations human rights treaties (States parties) are required to submit written reports for review by the treaty monitoring bodies. A State party report to any treaty monitoring body is composed of two documents. The first, the core document, containing an overview of the State party’s demographic, economic, legal and political structure, is submitted to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to be used by all treaty monitoring bodies in all their reviews of that State party. Until 2006, this “core document” submission was voluntary, and therefore inconsistent. The second part of States parties’ reports, which historically have been the focus of attention by both the treaty bodies and NGOs, is the treaty-specific document, addressing the implementation of a particular treaty the State has ratified.
In 2006, after considerable discussion by the treaty bodies, the Chairpersons of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies endorsed a new set of guidelines for the core document that significantly expands its content and importance. The core document, now known as the Common Core Document (CCD) is intended to be a significant part of the State party’s review. Governments are to provide information in the CCD that relates directly to implementation of all the human rights treaties they have ratified. NGOs, in turn, will find information in the CCD that should be taken into account in their advocacy and may produce a CCD shadow report responding to the information (or lack of information) in the State party CCD.
The new reporting guidelines for the CCD, titled Harmonized Guidelines on Reporting under the International Human Rights Treaties (Harmonized Guidelines), include a requirement that States parties report specifically in the CCD on laws and policies relating to non-discrimination, equality, and effective remedies. The CCD therefore should include a great deal of information that is directly relevant to monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Convention) as well as the non-discrimination provisions of all the other human rights treaties.
Each of the treaty monitoring bodies retains its guidelines for reporting on information that is specific to each treaty. Each treaty body is expected to revise its own reporting guidelines in light of the CCD guidelines, providing treaty-specific guidelines that require States to indicate the impact of their nondiscrimination policies and human rights institutions as well as information that is specifically required by the respective treaty.
When the new CCD guidelines were endorsed in 2006, the Chairpersons requested that all treaty bodies revise their guidelines for the content of State party reports to be consistent with the new Harmonized Guidelines and that they invite States parties to submit their country reports according to the Harmonized Guidelines. As of July 2008, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW) have revised their reporting guidelines to require that country reports be submitted in the format prescribed by the new CCD guidelines. Most of the other treaty bodies have begun the process of drafting and adopting new guidelines to conform to the new structure.
The expanded CCD provides a new opportunity for NGOs to highlight discrimination against women under all the United Nations human rights treaties in a single CCD shadow report that can readily be used by all the treaty monitoring bodies. NGOs can prepare a single CCD shadow report responding to their government’s CCD and submit it for consideration in the State party review by any treaty body, without rewriting or reorganizing material to conform to the provisions of a particular treaty.
The seven treaty monitoring bodies in addition to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) are mandated, and have been willing, to deal with sex and gender discrimination issues in their State party reviews. All have a process for using NGO submissions. Every United Nations member State is party to at least one human rights treaty. NGOs will be able to use the CCD to draw attention to discrimination against women under any treaty that a State has ratified.
Responding to a CCD increases the impact of NGO advocacy by:
- increasing credibility by demonstrating that the NGOs understand the government’s accountability under the human rights treaties to which it is a party;
- providing for continuing and multiplying accountability on sex and gender discrimination issues, particularly when the State party has entered problematic reservations to the CEDAW Convention or has failed to report under it on a regular basis;
- highlighting the gender aspects of every treaty body’s mandate; and
- laying the groundwork for increased attention to women’s human rights in the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Revew and other monitoring procedures.
For more specific guidance on writing a CCD shadow report, see Shadow Reporting with the CCD, below.
The New Harmonized Guidelines
The primary objectives of the Harmonized Guidelines are to enable States parties to report more efficiently, to avoid duplication, and to improve the effectiveness of the treaty monitoring system. Following the Harmonized Guidelines may help treaty bodies see a more “complete picture” of a State party’s treaty implementation in the context of its general human rights obligations. A common core document prepared according to the Harmonized Guidelines should reduce the need for treaty bodies to request further general information when reviewing State party reports. In addition, the Harmonized Guidelines should make State party reporting simpler (and thus more timely and effective) when all the treaty bodies use the new CCD, because States parties may avoid duplicating information in their individual treaty-specific reports to each treaty body. Finally, the treaty bodies will receive largely the same type of information on basic human rights issues from each reporting State party, which will enable more consistent review.
The Harmonized Guidelines for the CCD are divided into three sections.
Section 1 describes the purpose of creating a CCD, which includes an opportunity for the State party to self-review its human rights situation, identify problems, and plan accordingly. States parties are to explain their internal infrastructure for dealing with international human rights matters. States should have an apparatus for preparing treaty body reports, coordinating follow-up to treaty reviews, and collecting statistical data. The CCD should remain current and be updated as needed. States parties are to continue to report periodically as required by the individual treaties, but the CCD, covering issues common to all the treaties, is presented as part of each report for each treaty body review. States parties may coordinate the timing of submissions to ensure that one updated CCD will cover several reviews.
Section 2 deals primarily with the technical aspects of the CCD. The document is to be 60-80 pages in length, formatted for A4 paper in 12 point Times New Roman font. The CCDs must be submitted electronically as well as in print form in an official United Nations language.
Section 3 deals with the substantive content of the CCD, the most significant change from prior guidelines for voluntary submissions of general information (previously called “core report”). The CCD continues to include general information on the State party, including demographic, economic, social, and cultural information, as well as information about the political and legal structure. Information on the recognition and registration of NGOs and on the administration of justice also is required. Information should be presented through statistics whenever possible and disaggregated by sex, age, and population groups.
The CCD should include sections on the promotion and protection of human rights, including:· the State party’s ratification of the international human rights treaties and an explanation of any reservations;
· information on the legal framework for protecting human rights, including the functions and responsibilities of national human rights institutions;
· the role of parliaments;
· the role of national human rights institutions (NHRIs);
· efforts at awareness-raising;
· the reporting process at the national level as well as follow-up to international conferences;
· the role of NGOs in protecting and promoting human rights, and the government’s attitude to civil society development;
· information on budget allocations and on any cooperation or assistance from other States.
Non-discrimination and equality. The most important change in the CCD under the new Harmonized Guidelines is the inclusion of the information on non-discrimination and equality. Under the Harmonized Guidelines, a State party’s CCD should:· describe how the State party guarantees equality before the law and equal protection of the law, through legal and institutional structures;
· explain how the principle of non-discrimination has been expressed through a constitution, bill of rights, or basic law; and
· provide information “on steps taken to ensure that discrimination in all its forms and on all grounds is prevented.”
The non-discrimination and equality section should include general, factual information about programs that have been established. The document should:· describe any government action to reduce economic, social and geographic disparities;
· provide general information on government efforts to raise public awareness through education or mass media;
· include information on any temporary special measures to accelerate progress toward equality;
· include general information on the nature and scope of remedies provided in domestic law for violations of human rights, and “whether victims have effective access to these remedies;” and
· give specific attention to any identified groups who are particularly susceptible or vulnerable to discrimination.
It is important to note that the CCD is limited to general, factual information and an overview of legal and institutional structures. Statistical information should be used to provide a general understanding of “the political, legal, social, economic and cultural context.” Statistics should be disaggregated by sex, age, geographical location, and any other relevant factor. Information on protection and promotion of human rights should be limited to description of legal instrumentalities (constitutions, legislation, basic laws, establishment/mandates of internal agencies and commissions), national human rights institutions, NGOs and other “relevant actors in civil society.”
Treaty-Specific Documents. Each respective treaty-specific document, as the second part of a State party’s report to the respective treaty body, is to contain analytical detail to describe the implementation of measures to protect human rights, addressing each article of the respective treaty. The treaty-specific document also should include information on the outcomes and impact of efforts to eliminate discrimination as well as of other programmatic human rights implementation efforts. One goal of the full Harmonized Guidelines is to prevent repetition, so each treaty-specific document should refer to the CCD where applicable. In addition, each treaty-specific document should address the treaty body’s Concluding Observations on the State party’s previous reviews. Each treaty body’s revised treaty-specific reporting guidelines will include additional detail on matters to be included in the treaty-specific report. The collected treaty-specific guidelines for each treaty monitoring body will become the second part of the full new Harmonized Guidelines.
Shadow Reporting with the CCD
A CCD shadow report should be keyed to the discrimination issues addressed in the CCD. To find the State party’s CCD, use the U.N. human rights document search website. The database is searchable by Convention (treaty), Country or Type of document. To find a CCD, search by Country and under “Type,” search for “Core Document.” By selecting only the State party name, you will see all the documents submitted by the State party to the treaty bodies. By selecting a Convention (treaty), you will see all the treaty body reports for that State party.
If the State party has not submitted a CCD, the material in a CCD shadow report should still address the information required under the CCD guidelines. The CCD shadow report may still be considered by the treaty bodies if the State party has not submitted an updated CCD.
The CCD shadow report should be submitted to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (the Secretariat) prior to the State party’s review by the treaty body. Because the Secretariat distributes and posts online shadow reports to the treaty bodies only in conjunction with a State party review that has been scheduled, the CCD shadow report should be submitted to the Secretariat specifically with reference to a particular upcoming review. For example, if the State party is scheduled for a CEDAW Committee review in January 2008 and a CERD review in August 2008, the CCD shadow report must be submitted to the Secretariat prior to the CEDAW Committee review and then again prior to the CERD review.
Information on the treaty reporting status of each State party may be found at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. By clicking on the country name, the State party homepage will display a “Calendar of Events” that lists any upcoming treaty body reviews. Other useful information on recent treaty body reviews and State party documents may be found on the page. A list of reports to treaty bodies, including the core document (called “common” on the list), can be found by linking through the country’s page to “Full list of documents in the human rights treaty database.”
Information on the schedule of planned State party reviews can be found on the page for each treaty body on the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights website. NGOs should plan to submit shadow reports, if at all possible, for use by the treaty monitoring bodies as they prepare a List of Issues for the country review. Lists of Issues are prepared at least one session prior to the session for which a review is scheduled, and may be prepared as much as twelve months prior to the scheduled review. Each treaty body’s web site indicates the States scheduled for review in the upcoming sessions and the States scheduled for preparation of the List of Issues. For additional information, see IWRAW’s Procedural Guide to Submitting Shadow Reports for CEDAW, on this site.
CCD Shadow Reporting: Questions to Ask
These questions are to be used with a CCD submitted under the new Harmonized Guidelines. They relate primarily to the new section of the CCD on non-discrimination, equality, and effective remedies and are specific to the structure and status of women’s human rights. Some States parties have submitted reports that deliberately include both the information required by the CCD and certain treaty-specific information in the same report. A CCD shadow report that includes information that is only required by the CCD will still be useful in reviewing these States parties.
The questions suggested here will provide basic information that the CEDAW Committee and the other treaty bodies can use in evaluating a State’s fundamental approach to equality issues. A treaty-specific CEDAW Convention shadow report should address discrimination issues in more detail, particularly indicating the outcomes and impact of government action or inaction.
Prohibition of discrimination against women
1. Does the Constitution, bill of rights, or any basic law include the principle of non-discrimination and a guarantee of equality between women and men in the protection and enjoyment of human rights? In those States where the Constitution does not include a guarantee of non-discrimination, has the process of amendment to add such a guarantee begun?
2. Does any law, specifically or by interpretation, prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, or marital status?
3. Are there laws or policy statements that define discrimination against women? Do they include in their definition any act which causes or results in discriminatory treatment of women in comparison to men?
4. Is the legal definition of discrimination sufficiently broad or interpreted broadly enough to be compatible with that in the CEDAW Convention: “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their martial status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field”? Does the definition apply to practices that are discriminatory in effect (sometimes referred to as indirect discrimination)?
5. Does the legal definition of discrimination include violence against women?
6. What discriminatory elements exist, if any, in customary practice (codified and uncodified) and in religious laws and precepts?
7. What formal law or policy measures have been adopted to guarantee women fundamental freedoms and equal rights (including participation in civil, political, economic, social, and cultural life)? Do these measures address discrimination against women in all its forms?
8. Has the State adopted legislation to deal with sex discrimination in the specific areas described in Articles 6-16 of the CEDAW Convention?
9. Has the State taken any measures to promote substantive equality, such as evaluating government operations, training administrative staff, or establishing programs that specifically promote equality?
10. Have any laws, regulations, or policies been promulgated that regulate the conduct of official institutions, public authorities and public officials towards women?
11. Do any policies or practices of government and other public institutions discriminate against women specifically or in effect? Are there any laws or administrative or other practices that discriminate against women? Are these policies and practices in the process of being repealed or changed?
12. Have any laws, regulations, or policies been promulgated that regulate the conduct of private citizens towards women?
13. What stereotyping or negative attitudes to women exist? What efforts has the government made to eliminate gender stereotyping through legislation or other programs?
14. What cultural or traditional practices contribute to or reinforce these stereotypes or attitudes? Does religion or custom contribute to these attitudes? Does the government sponsor or otherwise support public information or educational programs to address stereotyping of or negative attitudes towards women? Are national human rights institutions involved?
15. Are there public information programs to educate women about their rights? If so, to what extent do the media contribute to such programs? Are national human rights institutions involved?
16. How has the State, through legislation, policies, or programs, attempted to prevent and eliminate gender-based violence against women? Do any policies related to violence against women focus on particular groups, such as ethnic, racial, religions, minorities, immigrants, older women, girls, or disabled women?
17. Are there any public campaigns to raise awareness and change attitudes about violence against women?
National human rights institutions1. Has a national human rights institution been established to promote and protect human rights? Does it have a specific mandate to address women’s human rights? If not, can its mandate be read to include discrimination against women, and has the NHRI done so? If the State has internal mechanisms mandated to address women’s human rights issues, what is the relationship of those mechanisms to the NHRI?
2. Has the NHRI been accredited by the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (ICC)?
3. How independent is the national human rights institution from the government? In particular, is the establishment of the national institution guaranteed by the constitution or is it the result of presidential decree or legislative action? If a change in government were to occur, how vulnerable would the national institution be?
4. Does the national human rights institution enjoy sufficient funding to hire competent staff and carry out programming? Is it only government funded or does it receive additional funding from other sources?
5. How is the membership of the NHRI comprised? How are ombudsmen or commissioners appointed? How long are their terms? Do the appointment procedures result in independent and professional members? Does membership reflect the State’s social, ethnic and linguistic composition? Does the membership have a gender balance? Do members have expertise on sex discrimination and intersectional discrimination against women?
6. Does the NHRI have the ability to launch independent investigations? How often has it done so? Has the NHRI taken on any investigations that address discrimination against women?
7. What is the role of a NHRI in the United Nations human rights reporting and follow-up process? Do NHRIs contribute information to the State party reports, and particularly information on sex discrimination? Do NHRIs assist civil society actors in preparing individual communications or inquiry requests to the treaty bodies?
Specific circumstances and disparities
1. Are particular groups of women, such as ethnic, racial, religions, minorities, immigrants, older women, girls, or disabled women particularly susceptible to discrimination? How has the government dealt with discrimination against such groups of women?
2. Are any disparities between women and men in enjoyment of rights attributable to geographic location (urban/rural or regional)?
Temporary special measures
1. Does the constitution, legislation or other legal mechanism allow for or mandate temporary special measures to guarantee women’s full and equal enjoyment of human rights and explicitly recognize them to be non-discriminatory? What temporary special measures have been adopted to accelerate progress towards equality between men and women, and in what fields?
2. Have each of these measures been given specific time frames and if so, which one with what time frames? What are the expected time frames for any special measures to achieve their goal and be withdrawn?
1. How are the laws and policies prohibiting discrimination enforced through the court system or through other tribunals?
2. Can women file complaints related to violations of their human rights with courts of law, special tribunals, or NHRIs? How many cases of sex discrimination are brought before the courts or other bodies annually? How were they decided?
3. Do community, tribal, or religious courts have a role in providing for hearings and remedies? Do women receive equal treatment before these tribunals? Are the offered remedies effective; are they in any way discriminatory against women?
4. What are the obstacles (such as lack of freedom to travel, required consent of a “guardian,” etc.) to women’s access to remedies? Are the procedures for filing complaints simple, accessible, affordable, and speedy?
5. Are any criminal penalties or civil sanctions imposed for discrimination against women? If so, what are they? Are they applied in practice? Are they effective at deterrence?
ANNEX A National Human Rights Institutions
One important element of the new common core document (CCD) is the requirement that States parties reflect on and discuss their institutional frameworks for protecting and promoting human rights. The CEDAW Committee has already begun to include review of NHRIs, under the reporting guidelines for the “public institutions” language of Article 2(c). Now, however, express language calls for all treaty monitoring bodies to review a State party’s NHRIs. The NHRIs should be involved in protecting, promoting, and reporting on human rights. The inclusion of information on NHRIs in the CCD emphasizes States parties’ responsibility to protect and promote human rights under all the treaties.
The Human Rights Council also has called for information on NHRIs under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Under the UPR guidelines, States parties are to report on the background of NHRIs and their role in protecting and promoting human rights. This underscores the expectations placed on NHRIs and their important role in protecting and promoting human rights.
Nearly every State party has established some type of NHRI, such as a human rights commission, human rights institute, or an ombudsman office (defender of the public). The U.N. recognizes that the design of national institutions will vary according to the circumstances and needs in that State. Some governments have established specialized commissions to monitor and advocate for the rights of specific populations, including women (i.e. women’s commissions). Others have implemented multiple types of national institutions, combining commissions and ombudsmen, or creating a number of specialized commissions. All NHRIs, regardless of form, are obligated to a dual mandate of protecting and promoting human rights.
Since States are granted significant flexibility in the type of NHRI they choose to create, it has been difficult to establish uniform standards. The accreditation process accordingly rests on procedural and structural issues rather than substantive evaluation.
The International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (ICC) was established to work in conjunction with the National Institutions Unit of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to establish an accreditation process for NHRIs. The ICC conducts an accreditation process for applicant institutions using the “Principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights” (Paris Principles) as a framework. The Paris Principles voice the General Assembly’s decision to endorse national institutions as an effective way to implement human rights treaties. The principles describe the required structural characteristics of the institution (e.g. structure, mandate, independence, funding, operation etc.). Compliance with the Paris Principles will satisfy ICC accreditation requirements. While the accreditation process provides an overview of an NHRI framework, it does not consider the effectiveness of the institution or qualitatively evaluate its work.
While NHRIs are government-funded, they are considered independent institutions and regarded as such in their representation at the U.N. The U.N. has called on NHRIs to play an active role in human rights reporting and follow-up processes, encouraging them to contribute to States parties’ reports, provide information directly to the treaty bodies, or support NGOs in writing shadow reports. Ultimately, the U.N. envisions NHRIs as instrumental in the dissemination and follow-up of Committee recommendations and concluding observations. NGOs should pay special attention in their shadow reports to the role of NHRIs in their countries.
The establishment and functions of NHRIs present a unique opportunity to promote and protect women’s human rights. Between 2000 and 2006, the CEDAW Committee included concerns and recommendations on the establishment and functioning of NHRIs in seventeen State party reviews. In a number of cases, the Committee called for the establishment of a NHRI or ombudsman to work directly on women’s equality and other non-discrimination issues. While the Committee has commended countries for the establishment of national institutions, it also has expressed concerns about level of independence, inadequacy of funding, lack of gender expertise, and the failure of NHRIs to incorporate non-discrimination into their mandate and women’s human rights issues into their work. All of these concerns should be addressed in the evaluation of NHRIs when writing a CCD shadow report.
An evaluation of an NHRI’s institutional capacity should first address whether or not it has been accredited by the ICC. If it has not been accredited, the reasons should be outlined for the Committee. If the NHRI has been accredited, a review of its mandate and performance can be extremely useful to underscore the State party’s concern or lack of concern with women’s human rights.
Due consideration must be given to how the NHRI defines human rights. The Paris Principles require NHRIs to have a “broad mandate” to work on an inclusive range of issues. Discrimination against women should, ideally, be included within the mandate of every NHRI. The mandate should also be broad enough to encompass economic, social and cultural rights. Failure to address the full range of human rights can be especially detrimental to women, because their human rights issues are systemic, relate deeply to economic, social, and cultural inequalities and touch on cultural taboos. Also, NHRIs may lose sight of the bigger picture and fail to address systematic and institutional discrimination against women when dealing with individual complaints. A complete common core document should indicate how NHRIs are or are not fulfilling their broad mandate, including how they deal with discrimination against women—and evaluation of the NHRI performance with respect to women and gender will be most telling.
ANNEX B Application of the Harmonized Guidelines: Recent State Party Reports
A few States parties have submitted updated common core documents (CCDs) since 2007, using the new Harmonized Guidelines. Current States parties’ CCDs can be found by searching the United Nations human rights document database.
The variations in States’ approaches suggest that additional evaluation and guidance from the Treaty Monitoring Bodies could be helpful. Australia and Angola, for example, merged information required for the CCD with treaty-specific information.
Australia was a pioneer in streamlined reporting. However, its 2007 CCD appears to have been constructed under a set of treaty reporting guidelines, proposed to the Chairpersons in 2004 but never endorsed, for a suggested consolidation of all treaty body reporting into one document. The 2007 report was submitted as a combined CCD and treaty-specific document to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Human Rights Committee (CCPR). The report contains a section on “Implementation of Substantive Human Rights Provisions Common to All or Several Treaties” which lists sub-topics such as Participation in Public Life, Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Right to Work, and Right to Adequate Food, Clothing, and Housing. For each sub-topic, there is a chart listing the articles of all the human rights treaties that are applicable to the sub-topic information.
Angola’s 2008 CCD followed a similar pattern, appearing to consolidate reports to the CEDAW Committee, CESCR, and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Using sub-topics and describing both laws and implementation, the Angola CCD seems to include considerably more information than is called for by the Harmonized Guidelines.
Afghanistan, on the other extreme, included only paragraphs on the principle of non-discrimination and equality. Afghanistan’s CCD consists mostly of quotations of the Constitution and laws, with proposed goals and priorities. Laws and goals relating to special temporary measures and remedies are cited at length, but there is no information on current programs or implementation.
Sri Lanka submitted a 2008 CCD that more closely follows the 2006 (endorsed) Harmonized Guidelines. The Sri Lanka CCD includes a section on “Information on Non-Discrimination and Equality and Effective Remedies.” The section includes a brief overview of the legal instruments and systems that are intended to guarantee human rights: international treaties, the constitution, basic laws, the justice system, and ministerial committees. The CCD includes a chart indicating which Sri Lanka laws apply to different articles of the human rights treaties as well as other international instruments. Although the chart only describes the Sri Lanka laws very briefly, it does provide a more complete picture of how the State party is protecting human rights generally.
Kosovo and Timor-Leste prepared CCDs with help from the United Nations. The Kosovo 2007 CCD was prepared by the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo. A section on “Non-Discrimination and Equality” includes a general description of regulations and laws for the protection of human rights. The CCD describes the language, meaning, and effect of the laws as well as noting the success of the law in action. It also discusses human rights by topic (gender, education, employment, etc.). These sub-sections describe, in more detail, the legal instruments that protect these human rights and prevent discrimination as well as any temporary special measures taken to accelerate equality. In addition, these sub-sections also note the shortcomings of the legal measures as well as proposed and current measures.
Kosovo’s 2008 treaty-specific document to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) notes that it is meant to be reviewed in conjunction with the CCD. The CESCR-specific document is far more detailed with respect to implementation of the law and current actions. The difference in detail in the documents is clearly illustrated by comparing their lengths —the CCD is 67 pages while the CESCR document is 259 pages. The treaty-specific document also describes additional legal and institutional structures that are applicable to specific treaty articles but were omitted from the CCD. The treaty-specific document describes the effectiveness of treaty implementation through a brief history of the law in action (for example, the number of claims made under a particular legal measure or structure and how those claims were handled). Kosovo’s CESCR document did not quite reduce redundancy as the Harmonized Guidelines were intended to do—it directly lifts paragraphs from the CCD and repeats them in the treaty-specific document instead of using cross references.
Timor-Leste constructed a CCD in conjunction with its report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 2007 with assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and NGOs for staffing, data collection, and funding. The 166-page document includes “background information, statistics and thematic human rights issues relevant to two or more treaties whilst the CRC-specific document is designed to identify and focus on specific child rights issues as revealed against the overall context of CCD and human rights promotion and protection in Timor-Leste.” Timor-Leste began creating the CCD before the 2006 Harmonized Guidelines were endorsed, and this CCD appears to reflect the 2004 guidelines for a proposed single document that reports under all the human rights treaties.
The Timor-Leste CCD includes a section on “Congruent Substantive Provisions” that includes sub-topics similar to those in Australia’s CCD. Footnotes to the sub-topics refer to human rights treaties to which the information is applicable. Also, occasionally the text of the sub-topics refers to the treaty-specific document for more detail on the subject. The treaty-specific document for CRC includes cross-references to the CCD for more general information.
Because Kosovo’s and Timor-Leste’s CCDs were prepared with assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, they might serve as examples of the potential for the new CCD format to cover considerable territory. However, both CCDs were begun before the new guidelines were endorsed, so they may reflect the proposed 2004 guidelines. The Kosovo CCD, for example, includes perhaps more information on programmatic matters and impact than is necessary and repeats word for word material that is in its CESCR-specific document. Cross-referencing between the CCD and the treaty-specific document does reduce repetition. Timor-Leste’s CCD details “congruent provisions,” an exercise that is not required by the endorsed 2006 version of the Harmonized Guidelines. The principles of decision for including detail on certain substantive economic, social and cultural rights topics in the CCD are unclear.
ANNEX C Universal Periodic Review
The Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) provides another forum for advocacy using information gathered for the common core document and treaty reviews. The Council, which was established in 2006 to replace the Commission on Human Rights, is composed of 47 elected member States of the United Nations General Assembly. It is mandated to conduct Universal Periodic Reviews (UPRs) of all member States. The goals of the UPR include promoting “universality, interdependence, indivisibility and interrelatedness of all human rights.” The review includes three documents: a State-prepared report; a compilation of the State’s record according to U.N. human rights bodies and procedures; and a compilation of information from NGOs, NHRIs, and other “relevant stakeholders.”
The State-prepared report includes background information but is not the same document as the CCD. The State report for the UPR is much shorter—only 20 pages—and is not required to include a section on non-discrimination, equality, and effective remedies. However, several States have included non-discrimination and equality principles in a specific section or more generally under the section on protection and promotion of human rights. These reports also can include a specific section on protection of women’s human rights and may also draw attention to specific topics, such as comfort women in Japan.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) prepares for each State’s UPR a compilation of treaty body reviews and references to the State by special procedures (such as Special Rapporteurs), “including observations and comments by the State concerned, and other relevant official United Nations documents.” In addition, “other relevant stakeholders,” including NGOs and NHRIs, are invited to submit information to be compiled into a report and considered by the Human Rights Council. This gives NGOs a chance to highlight specific areas of concern. If a State has not ratified all the human rights treaties or has failed to report regularly, the UPR provides a forum for NGOs to voice their concerns to the Human Rights Council. However, NGOs might bear in mind that the UPR is a less intensive scrutiny than treaty body reviews, so focus on a short list of issues is crucial.
The UPR provides another forum for advocacy based on documentation that NGOs have already prepared for the CCD and individual treaty-specific reports. In addition, the impact of NGO advocacy under the human rights treaties can multiply as treaty bodies’ concluding observations are included in the OHCHR’s submission for each State’s UPR. And for NGOs in States that have failed or lagged in their reporting to CEDAW and other treaty bodies, the UPR provides a forum that a State cannot escape—and which may be the best chance for NGOs to present their case to the international community.
More information for NGOs interested in submitting a shadow report for the UPR is available on the Universal Periodic Review website.
 5th Inter-Committee Meeting June 19-21, 2006, “Harmonized Guidelines on Reporting under the International Human Rights Treaties, Including Guidelines on a Common Core Document and Treaty-Specific Documents,” HRI/MC/2006/3. Available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/icm-mc/documents.htm (accessed July 2008). See “Effective Implementation of International Instruments on Human Rights, Including Reporting Obligations Under International Instruments on Human Rights,” A/61/385 at ¶ 47. See CEDAW, E/CN.6/2008/CRP.1; CERD, CERD/C/2007/1; CMW, CMW/C/2008/1 (for periodic reports only). A shadow report is a compilation of information, usually prepared by nongovernmental organizations, to illuminate and/or to counter information provided by States parties in their reports. Each of the treaty monitoring bodies has a procedure for consideration of the information provided in shadow reports. Treaty-specific shadow reports may still be submitted in addition to or instead of the CCD shadow report. Treaty-specific shadow reports will provide more detail and more information on implementation than a CCD shadow report.See World Conference on Human Rights, Declaration and Programme of Action, A/CONF.157/23 (12 July 1993). Declaration para. 18; Programme of Action Sec. 3 (human rights of women). The Chairpersons of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies took up the issue of integrating gender perspectives at their meeting immediately following the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995: Report of the Sixth Meeting of Persons Chairing the Human Rights Treaty Bodies/, A/50/505 (4 October 1995). In 1998 the Chairpersons endorsed the IWRAW manual, Assessing the Status of Women, as a guide for dealing with gender issues in all the human rights treaties. Report of the Persons Chairing the Human Rights Treaty Bodies on Their Tenth Meeting, A/53/432 (25/09/98). See U.N. Human Rights Document Database for information on which States have ratified which human rights treaties: http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/NewhvVAllSPRByCountry (accessed July 2008). See appendix on Universal Periodic Review, below. Harmonized Guidelines, see note 4, at ¶ 3. Ibid. Harmonized Guidelines, at ¶ 4. Ibid. Ibid. at ¶ 9. Harmonized Guidelines, at ¶¶ 13-15. Ibid. at ¶ 17-18. Ibid. Ibid. at ¶¶ 19-23. Ibid. Ibid. at ¶¶ 24-60. Ibid. at ¶¶ 33-39. Ibid. at ¶ 26. Ibid. at ¶ 40. Ibid. at ¶ 40 (b) (i-iv) Ibid. at ¶ 43 (g). Ibid. at ¶ 43 (h)-(i). Ibid. at ¶¶ 50-59. Ibid. at ¶ 50. Ibid. at ¶ 52. Ibid. at ¶ 53. Ibid. at ¶ 55 (“geographic disparities” could be taken to refer to urban/rural or regional disparities). Ibid. at ¶ 56. Ibid. at ¶¶ 58. Ibid. at ¶ 59. Ibid. at ¶ 54. Ibid. at ¶ 27. Ibid. at ¶ 32. Ibid. at ¶¶ 42-43. Ibid. at ¶ 60. Ibid. Harmonized Guidelines, HRI/MC/2006/3. Available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/icm-mc/documents.htm (accessed July 2008). See Appendix for more information on recent State party CCD documents. See Inter-Committee Technical Working Group. “Harmonized Guidelines on Reporting under the International Human Rights Treaties, Including Guidelines on a Common Core Document and Treaty-Specific Documents,” HRI/MC/2006/3, 10 May 2006 at ¶ 43. Available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/icm-mc/documents.htm (accessed July 2008). Harmonized Guidelines, at ¶¶ 42(f), 43(b), 45(b), 45(d). See “Follow-up to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1.” September 27, 2007. Available at: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/HRC/decisions/A_HRC_DEC_6_102.pdf (accessed July 2008). Ibid. The Commission on Human Rights in resolution 1998/55 recognizes that it is the “prerogative of each State to choose, for the establishment of a national institution, the legal framework that is best suited to its particular needs and circumstances to ensure that human rights are promoted and protected at the national level in accordance with international human rights standards.” Commission on Human Rights. “National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights” C.H. R. res 1998/55, ESCOR Supp. (No. 3) at 178, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1998/55 (1998). Rules for accreditation were approved on September 14, 2004. National Human Rights Institutions Forum. “Guidelines for Accreditation & Re-Accreditation of National Human Rights Institutions to the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions Version 3 – April 2008.” Available at: http://nhri.net/2008/Guidelines_for_accreditation_application_April_2008_En.pdf (accessed July 2008). Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, Part 1, ¶ 36. ‘Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions’, UN Commission on Human Rights resolution 1992/54 of 3 March 1992, Annex, UN doc. E/1992/22, chap. II, sect. A; “Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights,” General Assembly Resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993. Available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/English/law/parisprinciples.htm (accessed July 2008). See “Guidelines for Accreditation & Re-Accreditation,” supra n. 48. National Human Rights Institutions Forum. “Table of Treaty Body Recommendations Relating to NIs (January 2000-November 2007) Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).” Available at: http://www.nhri.net/2008/Recommendations_CEDAW_Feb2008.pdf (accessed July 2008). CEDAW, Concluding Comments for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, A/56/38 (07/22/2005) 33rd Session at ¶¶ 51-52; Kazakhstan, A/56/38 (02/02/2001) at ¶ 9; Romania, A/55/38 (06/30/2000) 23rd Session at ¶ 313; Suriname, A/57/38 (06/21/2002) 27th Session at ¶ 45-46. Available at: http://tb.ohchr.org/default.aspx (accessed July 2008). See CEDAW Concluding Comments for Cape Verde, CEDAW/C/CPV/CO/6 (08/25/2006) 36th Session at ¶ 9; Cyprus, CEDAW/C/CYP/CO/5 (05/30/2006) 36th Session at ¶ 9; Uzbekistan, CEDAW/C/UZB/CO/3 (08/25/2006) 36th Session at ¶ 7; Thailand, CEDAW/C/THA/CO/5 (02/03/2006) 34th Session at ¶¶ 8-9. Available at: http://tb.ohchr.org/default.aspx (accessed July 2008). Kumar, C. Raj. (2006) “National Human Rights Institutions and Economic, social and Cultural Rights: Toward the Institutionalization and Developmentalization of Human Rights.” Human Rights Quarterly 28: 755-779. Some recent CCDs may only be found on the treaty-specific websites. For example, Australia, Angola, and Kosovo’s most recent CCDs are currently located in the CESCR Pre-Sessional Working Group for the 40th Session website. Available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/cescrwg40.htm (accessed July 2008).Timor-Leste’s CCD can be found on the CRC website. Available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs47.htm (accessed July 2008).Afghanistan’s CCD is only found on the Afghanistan government’s website available at: http://www.mfa.gov.af/Documents/HR-Reports/Common-Core-Document.pdf (accessed July 2008). See Australia HRO/CORE/AUS/2007 and Angola HRI/CORE/AGO/2008. Afghanistan, Common Core Document. Available at the Afghanistan government website: http://www.mfa.gov.af/Documents/HR-Reports/Common-Core-Document.pdf (accessed July 2008).Afghanistan’s CCD notes that it is for CESCR, however Afghanistan is not listed as reporting for any upcoming conferences. See Sri Lanka HRI/CORE LKA/2008 ¶ 63-65. Ibid. Ibid. at appendix IV. Kosovo, HRI/CORE/UNK/2007 ¶ 198-210; Annemarie Devereux & Catherine Anderson, Reporting under International Human Rights Treaties: Perspectives from Timor Leste’s Experience of the Reformed Process Human Rights L.R. 8:1(2008), at 84-85. Available at: http://hrlr.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/8/1/69 (accessed July 2008). See Kosovo, HRI/CORE/UNK/2007 ¶ 198-210. Ibid. Ibid. at ¶ 211-249. Ibid. See e.g. ibid. at ¶ 238, 227. See Kosovo, E/C.12/UNK/1 from 40th Session CESCR at note **. See ibid. at ¶ 550. See ibid. at ¶ 519, 533. See Kosovo, HRI/CORE/UNK/2007 at ¶ 205-10 and Kosovo, E/C.12/UNK/1 from 40th Session CESCR at ¶ 43-49. Annemarie Devereux & Catherine Anderson, Reporting under International Human Rights Treaties: Perspectives from Timor Leste’s Experience of the Reformed Process Human Rights L.R. 8:1(2008), at 84-85. Available at: http://hrlr.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/8/1/69 (accessed July 2008). Timor-Leste, HRI/CORE/TLS/2007, CRC/C/TLS/1 CRC 47th Session at ¶ 3. Available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs47.htm (accessed July 2008). Ibid. Timor-Leste, CRC/C/TLS/1 CRC 47th Session. Available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs47.htm (accessed July 2008). See “Effective Implementation of International Instruments on Human Rights, Including Reporting Obligations Under International Instruments on Human Rights” A/61/385 at ¶ 7. Available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/icm-mc/documents.htm (accessed July 2008). General Assembly Resolution 60/251: Human Rights Council, A/RES/60/251 at ¶ 7. Available at: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/RES/60/251 (accessed July 2008). Ibid at ¶ 5(3). Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Institution-building of the United Nations Human Rights Council, A/HRC/RES/5/1, at ¶ 3. Available at: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/RES/5/1 (accessed July 2008). Ibid, at ¶ 15. See “Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Japan,” A/HRC/8/44, at ¶¶ 26, 37, 45, 60. For more information on the UPR, see “Follow-up to Human Rights Resolution 5/1.” Available at: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/HRC/decisions/A_HRC_DEC_6_102.pdf (accessed July 2008). “Institution-building of the United Nations Human Rights Council,” A/HRC/RES/5/1, June 18, 2007, at ¶ 15. Available at: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/HRC/resolutions/A_HRC_RES_5_1.doc (accessed July 2008).