Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights opens sixty-sixth session in Geneva
30 September 2019
Committee on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights
30 September 2019
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights this morning opened its sixty-sixth session in Geneva, hearing a statement by Antti Korkeakivi, Chief of the Anti-Torture, Coordination and Funds Section of the Human Rights Treaties Branch at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and adopting its agenda and programme of work for the session.
In his opening statement, Mr. Korkeakivi said that the session was taking place at a time when issues at the core of the Committee’s mandate were at the forefront of discussions globally, including most recently at the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. The Committee’s statement on climate change and on the pledge to leave no one behind had provided timely reminders to the global community that respect for human rights was crucial to ensure that global commitments to sustainable development and the environment were met.
Turning to the 2020 review of the treaty body system, he pointed out that a key issue providing context to this review was the current funding crisis confronting the United Nations system. The threat to cancel the treaty body session for the latter part of 2019 had been overcome thanks in large part to the coordinated response from treaty bodies, the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General. However, the overall cash flow situation remained critical as did the significant shortfall in staffing of the Treaties Branch. The situation for 2020 and beyond was uncertain. The High Commissioner had welcomed the vision of the treaty body chairs before the Human Rights Council, also highlighting the review as an opportunity to strengthen the impact of the Committees' deliberations on the ground, including through streamlining and harmonizing procedures.
This was particularly encouraging for the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which had sought to reduce overlap and unnecessary duplication with other Committees, including in the preparation of lists of issues and lists of issues prior to reporting. In his regard, Mr. Korkeakivi encouraged Committee members to consider further offering the possibility to States to use the simplified reporting procedure, and identifying the countries on which they could possibly coordinate lists of issues with the Human Rights Committee. He wished the Committee a productive and successful session.
The Committee then adopted the agenda and programme of work for the sixty-sixth session, which is taking place at the Palais Wilson from 30 September to 18 October 2019. During the session, the Committee will review the reports of Denmark, Ecuador, Israel, Senegal, Slovakia and Switzerland. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found at the session’s webpage.
The Committee will next meet in public this afternoon at 3 p.m. to hold a meeting with national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations with respect to Switzerland, Israel and Ecuador, whose reports will be considered by the Committee this week.