Thursday, May 23, 2013

CESCR concludes its 50th session

Day 11 (Monday, 13 May 2013)
The Committee, in closed meetings, began the adoption of concluding observations. Adoption of COBs will continue for the remainder of the week. 
In addition to the adoption of COBs, the Bureau held its 3rd meeting before the morning meeting, to discuss issues of importance to its work
At lunchtime members participated in a presentation on forced evictions organised by Amnesty International.
Day 12 (Tuesday, 14 May 2013)
The Committee continued the adoption of concluding observations. 
The Committee also pursued discussions in plenary related to the modalities of "operating" during the upcoming Pre-sessional Working Group, and agreed that, exceptionally, due to the UN holidays and the high number of reports, the working group would work in two parallel "panels" for two out of four days.
During lunchtime, a presentation of the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Commentary was made by the two of the drafters of the Commentary (Margot Salomon from LSE and Ian Seiderman from ICJ), following which the members engaged in a Q&A.
Day 13 (Wednesday, 15 May 2013)
The Committee discussed the treaty body strengthening process, and in the afternoon, continued the adoption of the concluding observations. 
In the morning discussions on the Treaty Bodies process focused on the follow-up to the preliminary decision adopted by the Committee at its 49th Session (November 2012) in which the Committee designated a focal point to report back to the 50th Session with a view to facilitating further discussion on the issue. The discussions were also meant to provide input from the Committee to the Vice-Chair, Mr. Kerdoun, who was designated as a participant of the up-coming Meeting of Chairpersons.
Regarding the treaty body strengthening process, Mr. Simon Walker (the Chief of the CPESCR Section) provided an update on the current status of the inter-governmental process (IGP) and the two recent proposals submitted (the Nimble calendar and the Code of conduct). Mr. Walker also recalled the main features of the High Commissioners report on TBS and recommendations emanating therefrom (notably the CRC). Mr. Aslan Abashidze (the Committee focal point) provided information on his research related to the HC strengthening process and the IGP process, highlighting areas that the Committee should further focus on, in anticipation of the outcome of the IGP.
Day 14 (Thursday, 16 May 2013)
The Committee continued - and completed - the adoption of concluding observations in closed meeting. 
In addition to that, the Committee further discussed drafting of general comments, as discussed by the Bureau the day before.
It was agreed that: 
· The drafting of general comments (GC) on just a favourable conditions of work would be pursued for which two rapporteurs were identified; 
· Modalities and/or desirability of working on the general comment on the right to sexual and reproductive health will be further explored - a rapporteur was identified for this task; 
· Other thematic issues of interest which members have expressed the desire to work on have not formally been "tabled" but exploratory work by individual members is welcome.
In addition to the thematic focus, the Committee has also appointed a rapporteur to look into the current structure of the GCs. 
Day 15 (Friday, 17 May 2013)
On Friday, the 50th Session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights concluded its work. 
The Committee adopted the concluding observations related to the reports of Azerbaijan, Denmark, Iran, Jamaica, Japan, Rwanda and Togo. 
The Session welcomed three new members and saw the election of a new Chair and Bureau. Meetings with stakeholders took place, with the welcome addition of the ILO presenting Recommendation No. 202 (2012) on Social Protection Floors, as well as a teleconference with one special rapporteur. 
The number of NGOs and visiting groups was considerable for the duration of the Session. Field-based colleagues have also been quite active and excellent cooperation was noted. The two thematic lunchtime briefings, on forced evictions (by AI) and on the Commentary on the Maastricht Principles re ETOs of States in the Area of ESCR, were considered most useful. 
One of most important dates during the Session was the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR on 5 May 2013. The Members welcomed the High Commissioner who briefly addressed the Committee on the occasion of the entry into force of the OP-ICESCR, followed by a statement delivered by the Chairperson. The importance of the EIF of this new instrument was once again highlighted. 
During the Session, the Committee devoted considerable time to discussion of working methods, notably the TBS process, and also devoted to reflection on the development of future general comments. 
A briefing for States was also held and about 30 representatives from Missions in Geneva attended. The briefing was welcomed as an opportunity to engage in discussions related to matters of mutual interest and concern, and will be repeated at the next Session. The opportunity was also used to encourage State to ratify the OP-ICESCR.
Immediately following the Session the Committee will convene for its PSWG (21-24 May) to adopt lists of issues for 10 State party reports, namely: Austria; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; China (incl. Hong Kong and Macao); Djibouti; Egypt; Gabon; Norway and Uzbekistan. 
To read the related press release: 
To see the concluding observations adopted: