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Working methods

I. Introduction
II. Guidelines for reporting by States Parties
III. Consideration of States Parties’ reports by the Committee

A. Pre-session
B. Constructive dialogue
C. Concluding Observations

IV. Follow-up to Concluding Observations
V. Strategies to encourage reporting by States Parties
VI. Documentation supplied by the Secretariat
VII. Interaction with the United Nations partners as well as other stakeholders
VIII.Participation of Civil Society in the activities of the Committee
IX.Urgent actions procedure under article 30 of the Convention
X. Individual communications under article 31 of the Convention
XI. Inter-State communications under article 32 of the Convention
XII. Country visits under article 33 of the Convention
XIII. Mechanism under article 34 of the Convention to address widespread or systematic enforced disappearances
XIV. Reprisals

I. Introduction

  1. These methods of work are based on the provisions of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (the Convention) and the Committee on Enforced Disappearances’ rules of procedure and were developed to facilitate the interaction between the Committee and relevant stakeholders. These methods of work will evolve as the Committee advances on its work and therefore are subject to periodic review.
  2. In accordance with the Committee’s rules of procedure, its members do not participate in any aspect of the exercise of the functions of the Committee concerning those States of which they are nationals, or in any of the other cases provided for in rule of procedure 47, in order to maintain the highest standards of impartiality both in substance and appearance.

II. Guidelines for reporting by States Parties

  1. Reports of States Parties on the implementation of the Convention consist of two parts: a common core document and the treaty-specific document.
  2. The Committee on Enforced Disappearances has developed treaty-specific reporting guidelines to advise States Parties on the form and content of the reports which shall be submitted to the Committee under article 29 of the Convention, so as to ensure that the said reports are comprehensive. These guidelines, contained in document CED/C/2, are public and have been disseminated to all States Parties.
  3. The treaty-specific guidelines provide for comprehensive treaty-specific reports submitted under article 29, paragraph 1, of the Convention, prepared on an article-by-article basis, and, when applicable, for additional information submitted under article 29, paragraph 4, of the Convention. According to article 29, paragraph 4, of the Convention, the Committee may request States Parties to provide additional information on the implementation of the Convention which can be requested at any time the Committee considers appropriate.  When additional information is requested States Parties do not need to report on every single article of the Convention, but only on those issues identified by the Committee and those articles in respect of which there have been significant developments since the submission of the previous report.
  4. The Committee attaches great importance to the inclusion in the State Parties reports of information related to the actual implementation of the Convention as well as progress achieved and obstacles encountered. The Committee encourages the involvement of families of victims’ organizations, human rights defenders working on the issue of enforced disappearance, non-governmental organizations and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the process of consultations leading to the preparation of reports. The Committee also encourages civil society stakeholders and NHRIs to directly provide to it information on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention at the national level.

III. Consideration of States Parties’ reports by the Committee

  1. The Committee examines an average of two reports during a two-week session. Normally, priority is given to those reports which have arrived earlier.
  2. In order to enhance the effectiveness of the consideration of States Parties’ reports and to continuously improve the quality of the constructive dialogue with reporting States, the Committee appoints from among its members two or more country rapporteurs for each report. The country rapporteurs are responsible for the review of the report of the State party and the preparation of draft lists of issues and concluding observations. While all members participate in all phases of the consideration of reports, the country rapporteurs facilitate and coordinate the process.

A. Pre-session

  1. After a report is received, the Committee shall transmit a letter to the State party concerned notifying it of the dates, duration and venue of the session at which its report will be examined as well as a list of issues about which the Committee would like to receive additional information. The list of issues facilitates the preparation by the State party for the constructive dialogue; provide a focus for the constructive dialogue, without restricting it; and improve the efficiency of the reporting system.
  2. The Committee requests the State party to provide its answers to the list of issues in writing and by the date indicated in the transmission letter so as to be processed and distributed to the members. The replies should be short and precise; they should not exceed the length indicated by the Committee in the transmission letter; and should be submitted to the secretariat of the Committee electronically. States Parties may annex additional pages of statistical data.
  3. In reviewing States Parties reports, the Committee may take into consideration information originating from other treaty bodies, special procedures, in particular the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, and from the United Nations system as well from others sources, including regional human rights mechanisms, civil society stakeholders and NHRIs.
  4. The list of issues transmitted to the State party as well as any information received in that regard will be posted on the Committee’s webpage under the session at which the State party report will be examined.

B. Constructive dialogue

  1. The examination of a report takes the form of a dialogue between the delegation from the reporting State and the Committee members held in public meetings. The aim of the dialogue is to enhance the Committee’s understanding of the situation in the State party as it pertains to the Convention and to provide advice on how to improve the implementation of the Convention provisions in the State party. The dialogue also provides an opportunity for the State party to further explain its efforts to give effect to its obligations under the Convention as well as to clarify the contents of its report to the members of the Committee. Therefore, the presence and participation of the State party during the review are essential for the constructive dialogue to be fruitful and meaningful. Other stakeholders, including UN partners, civil society stakeholders as well as any interested individual, may attend the review of States Parties’ reports as observers, but will not have the possibility to take the floor.
  2. The Committee shall normally reserve two three-hour meetings for the examination of States Parties reports: half-day meeting on the first day and another half-day on the following day. Consideration of reports proceeds on an article-by-article basis. Consideration of additional information submitted by States Parties under article 29, paragraph 4, of the Convention, will be focused on the areas indicated by the Committee.
  3. The constructive dialogue shall be led by the Chairperson of the Committee who will ensure a balanced exchange between Committee members and the State party’s delegation. In order to facilitate such balanced exchange, interventions by members of the Committee during the dialogue will be focused and the Committee appreciates careful time management also on the part of the State party, including by providing precise, short and direct responses to the questions asked. Furthermore, the Committee appreciates if the State party could clearly indicate when a response to a question cannot be provided.
  4. In the first meeting, the representatives of the State party are invited to make a short presentation of the report for a maximum of 15 minutes. The State party’s representatives may update the information contained in the report and highlight the most relevant matters of the replies to the list of issues. Subsequently, the country rapporteurs and other Committee members make comments, ask questions and seek additional information related to issues that they consider requiring clarification. Committee members can raise matters that had not been referred to in the list of issues. Then, the State party’s representatives are given the floor to reply to the questions posed by the Committee members. Before closing the meeting, the country rapporteurs makes a preliminary assessment of the report and the constructive dialogue. Lastly, the representatives of the State party concerned are invited to make closing remarks.
  5. If, after the replies from the delegation outstanding questions remain, the Committee may allow the State party to provide supplementary information within 48 hours from the conclusion of the dialogue which will be taken into consideration during the formulation of the Concluding Observations. If some of the questions have not been answered, the Committee may request the State party to respond to such concerns expressed in the Concluding Observations in an additional report to be submitted in line with article 29, paragraph 4, of the Convention.
  6. Exceptionally, the Committee may examine in a public meeting a report in the absence of representatives of the State party when, after being duly notified, they fail to appear without providing compelling reasons.
  7. Press releases in English and French are issued immediately by the United Nations Information Service (www.unog.ch) regarding the meetings at which a State report is examined. Summary records are also issued after the closure of the session in English and/or French.

C.  Concluding Observations

  1. The Committee adopts Concluding Observations on the reports of States Parties that it considers. Concluding Observations are discussed and adopted in a closed plenary meeting by the Committee following the examination of the State party’s report. The Concluding Observations follow a standard format which consists of a brief introduction, followed by a section noting positive aspects, another with the subjects of concern and related recommendations, and a last one on follow-up and dissemination. The Committee may also identify certain issues of particular concern to be followed up and the State party may be requested to provide additional information in respect of these issues within a specific short period of time. The Committee may also request the State concerned to submit, within a specific period of time, additional information in conformity with article 29, paragraph 4, of the Convention, identifying the areas in which the State party has to focus its attention.
  2. Once adopted, the Concluding Observations are transmitted to the State party concerned and, after the conclusion of the session, posted on the Committee’s webpage, under the respective session. They are also included in the annual report presented by the Committee to the General Assembly of the United Nations in accordance with article 36 of the Convention.
  3. The Committee recommends that the State party widely disseminates, at the national level and in all the appropriate languages, the Concluding Observations as well as the State party’s report and written replies to the list of issues.
  4. State Parties may submit any comment they consider appropriate on the Committee’s Concluding Observations. The Committee makes such comments public by posting them on its website, under the session in which the report was examined, and reference to such comments is made in the Committee’s annual report to the General Assembly. In accordance with article 36, paragraph 2, of the Convention, these comments will be included in the annual report upon request of the State party concerned.

IV. Follow-up to Concluding Observations

  1. As mentioned in paragraph 20, if the Committee finds that some of the obligations under the Convention have not been discharged or that sufficient information has not been provided, it may request the State party concerned to provide follow-up information to specific Concluding Observations by a precise date. For this purpose, the Committee may identify some of its recommendations that are particularly serious, urgent, protective, and/or can be achieved within short periods of time, about which it would like to receive information from the State party on measures taken towards their implementation.
  2. A rapporteur is appointed to follow-up on the States Parties’ compliance with these requests. The follow-up rapporteur shall assess the information provided by the State party jointly with the country rapporteurs and report at every session to the Committee on her/his activities. Information provided by the State party under the follow-up procedure, as well as the responses of the follow-up rapporteur to the information provided, are made public on the Committee’s webpage under a separate follow-up section.

V. Strategies to encourage reporting by States Parties

  1. The Committee urges States Parties to comply with article 29, paragraph 1, of the Convention and submit their reports within two years after the entry into force of the Convention for that State party. It also strongly encourages States Parties to comply with the dates set by the Committee to provide additional information in conformity with article 29, paragraph 4 of the Convention, or follow-up information to Concluding Observations. The United Nations and other entities are encouraged to provide technical assistance in order to support States Parties, at their request, in the implementation of their reporting obligations under the Convention.
  2. The Committee may send to a State party a reminder concerning the non-submission of reports and additional information. If, after the reminder, the State party does not submit its report or additional information, the Committee shall include a reference to this effect in its annual report to the General Assembly.
  3. The Committee may also notify the defaulting State party that it intends, on a specified date, to examine in public session the measures taken by the State party to implement its obligations under the Convention, in the absence of a report. This notification is made public on the Committee’s website.  In this case, it will also adopt Concluding Observations as it deems appropriate in the circumstances. If the State party responds by submitting a report, the procedure shall be suspended and the normal process of consideration of the report shall begin. Where the State party concerned indicates that a report will be provided, pending receipt of that report, the review may be postponed to another session. In the letter notifying the State party of its intention to carry out a review in the absence of the report, the Committee may also include a list of issues on which the Committee may wish to focus the review of the report as well as a request to provide relevant. In this letter, the Committee will also invite the State party concerned to send a delegation to participate during the review. If the State party is not represented, the Committee may decide to proceed with the review, or it may notify the State party of a new date for consideration.  The Committee will transmit the adopted Concluding Observations to the State party concerned. The review of the situation in the State party concerned will be carried out on the basis of information available to it, including any dialogue with the State party delegation, and information obtained from UN partners, NHRIs and civil society stakeholders, as well as on the basis of other reliable sources of information.

VI. Documentation supplied by the Secretariat

  1. The Secretariat of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances supports the work of the Committee in several ways. The Committee is provided with country files on the reporting State party which include all material received and retrieved by the secretariat, such as the official report, information from civil society stakeholders and intergovernmental organizations, and other relevant documents.  
  2. In order to highlight information on each reporting State party, the following documentation is available on the Committee’s webpage: the reports of the States Parties; the list of issues and the State Parties’ replies where available; any annexes submitted by the State party; the introductory statement of the State party to the Committee, where available; the summary records pertaining to the consideration of the report(s) by the Committee; the composition of the delegation, where available; the Concluding Observations of the Committee; any responses and/or comments to the Concluding Observations by States Parties; as well as all documents related to follow-up to Concluding Observations as described in paragraph 25.

VII.  Interaction with United Nations partners as well as other    stakeholders 

  1. In accordance with article 28 of the Convention, the Committee invites relevant organs, offices and specialized agencies and funds of the United Nations, the treaty bodies instituted by international instruments, the special procedures of the United Nations, the regional intergovernmental organizations or bodies, and the State institutions, agencies or offices working towards the protection of all persons against enforced disappearances to submit to it reports, other information or documentation and oral and written statements, as appropriate, relevant to the Committee’s activities under the Convention. Thus, invitations are regularly addressed to those entities. Any of these entities, invited or not to submit information, may, at its own initiative, submit relevant information to the Committee.
  2. The Committee finds it most beneficial to receive written reports, which shall be posted on its webpage under the session at which the relevant State party report is being considered, unless otherwise determined by the. Representatives of those entities are invited to address the Committee in closed meetings.

VIII.  Participation of Civil Society in the activities of the Committee

  1. The Committee invites national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations, associations of victims’ families, and other relevant civil society actors to submit to it reports and other information or documentation relevant to the Committee’s activities under the Convention. In addition, the Committee may, through the Secretary-General, receive alternative reports, documentation or other information from national human rights institutions, nongovernmental organizations, associations of families of victims, other relevant civil society actors in order to build up a more comprehensive picture of how a State party is implementing the Convention.
  2. The information, unless otherwise determined by the Committee, will be posted on the Committee’s webpage, thus making it public and bringing it to the attention of the State party concerned. This practice allows the State Party to be better prepared to respond to questions that may be posed by the Committee on the basis of such information.
  3. Civil society actors may also brief the Committee orally in a private meeting at the session during which the State party’s report shall be examined. They can also brief the Committee during informal briefings to be organized outside the session. The Committee encourages international non-governmental organizations to facilitate attendance at the Committee sessions by representatives of national civil society actors, in particular associations of families of victims.
  4. The Committee also sets aside time for meeting in private with representatives of NHRIs. Such private meetings are organized before the examination of the State party’s report.
  5. Meetings with any of the above mentioned stakeholders may be held in person or through the use of video-conferencing. For further details on how to engage with the Committee, please refer to the following links: 1) Civil society:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CED/Pages/CivilSociety.aspx; and 2) NHRIs: under construction.

IX. Urgent actions procedure under article 30 of the Convention

  1. Article 30 of Convention bestows the Committee on Enforced Disappearances the competence to receive and consider requests, submitted by the relatives of the disappeared person or their legal representatives, their counsel or any person authorized by them, as well as any other person having a legitimate interest, that a disappeared person should be sought and found as a matter of urgency. The requests for urgent action may only be received if the enforced disappearance has occurred in a country that is a State party to the Convention and if it commenced after the entry into force of the Convention for the State party concerned. To submit a request for urgent action, individuals are encouraged to fill the model form available at the Committee’s webpage under “Urgent Actions”.
  2. The Committee first considers the admissibility of the request under the criteria set forth in the Convention and its rules of procedure. The request for urgent action will not normally be considered by the Committee if the same matter is being examined under another procedure of international investigation or settlement of the same nature, in particular the urgent actions of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. For a comparison of the different mechanisms available with the Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, please refer to the following link: under construction.
  3. If a request for urgent action is admissible, the Committee shall request the State party concerned to provide information on the situation of the person sought, within a time limit set by the Committee.  In light of the information received, or if no information is received, the Committee may transmit recommendations to the State party, including that it takes all the necessary measures, including interim measures, to locate and protect the person concerned, and to inform the Committee within a specified period of time.
  4. The Committee shall continue its efforts to work with the State party concerned for as long as the fate of the person sought remains unresolved. The Committee will maintain both, the State party Concerned and the author(s) of the request, updated about any information received from the other and will regularly remind the State party concerned that the fate of the person remains unresolved. The Committee will consider that the fate of the person sought has been resolved if it receives reliable information in that regard.
  5. The Committee considers these communications at private meetings and all documents related to the communications remain confidential. However, a summary of the requests for urgent actions admitted, as well as a reference to updates on them, may be reflected in the Committee’s annual report to the General Assembly. Whether the name of the victim and/or the details of the disappearance are reflected in the report will be determined on a case by case basis, following the request for confidentiality made by the author(s) of the request.

X.  Individual communications under article 31 of the Convention

  1. Under article 31 of the Convention, the Committee may receive and consider individual communications, also called complaints, if the State party in question has declared that it recognized this competence of the Committee. The Committee considers first the admissibility of the communication under the criteria set forth in the Convention and its rules of procedure and, if it is admissible, will decide on its merits. The decisions are considered to be of a quasi-judicial character. To submit a request for individual communications, individuals are encouraged to fill the model form available at the Committee’s webpage under “Petitions”.
  2. The Committee considers these communications at private meetings and all documents related to the communications remain confidential. Only the final decision on any given complaint (admissibility decision or decision on the merits) becomes a public document.

XI. Inter-State communications under article 32 of the Convention

  1. Under article 32 of the Convention, the Committee may receive and consider communications in which a State party claims that another State party is not fulfilling its obligations under the Convention. A communication shall not be considered by the Committee unless both States parties concerned have made declarations under article 32 of the Convention. The Committee considers these communications at closed meetings and all documents related to this procedure remain confidential.

XII. Country visits under article 33 of the Convention

  1.  By virtue of article 33 of the Convention, the Committee is empowered to receive information concerning allegations that a State party is seriously violating the Convention and request, if it is satisfied that the information received is reliable, one or more of its members to undertake a visit to the State party concerned and report back without delay. The findings of the Committee, together with any conclusions, observations and recommendations, are transmitted to the State party, which could submit its observations within a period set by the Committee. The Committee may request the State party concerned to provide additional information on the measures taken with a view to implementing its recommendations.

XIII. Mechanism under article 34 of the Convention to address widespread or systematic enforced disappearances

  1. Pursuant to article 34 of the Convention, the Committee is empowered to receive and consider information which appears to it to contain well-founded indications that enforced disappearance is being practiced on a widespread or systematic basis in the territory under the jurisdiction of a State party and may, after seeking relevant information from the State party concerned on the situation, urgently bring the matter to the attention of the General Assembly.

XIV. Reprisals

  1. The Committee condemns all acts of intimidation, persecution or reprisal against any individual who has sought to address and/or cooperate, or has addressed and/or cooperated, with the Committee by submitting information in relation to the State parties reporting procedure, urgent actions, individual communications, information relevant to violations of the Convention or for having met the Committee during its country visits. The Committee calls upon States parties to ensure that no person is subjected to any of such acts. In this regard, the Committee may take appropriate action and requests all relevant stakeholders to report to it any acts.

The Convention

The Convention
Text of the Convention
Status of ratification
Elaboration of the Convention
Letter dated 25 January 2012 to Member States promoting ratification and cooperation with the Committee"
E F S (PDF)

 

The Committee and its work

Elections
Urgent Actions

Guidance and Model for the request for an urgent action by the Committee on Enforced Disappearances
E F S

 

Petitions

Guidance and Model Form for submission of communications to the Committee on Enforced Disappearances
E-F-S

 

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International Federation for Human Rights

International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances

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World Organisation Against Torture

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