HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
Strasbourg, 5 January 2010
FOR THE ATTENTION OF MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
The Human Rights Committee, meeting in Strasbourg on 30 September 2009 with Gabriel Nissim (SIGNIS) in the chair:
1. Adopted the agenda.
2. Approved the synopsis of the meeting on 22 June 2009 [CONF/HR(2009)SYN3].
3. The Social Charter and economic and social rights
3.1. Heard a presentation by Régis Brillat, Head of the European Social Charter Department and Executive Secretary of the European Committee of Social Rights, in which he expressed satisfaction that the Charter was being discussed by the committee (link to presentation by Mr Brillat – French only).
3.2. Discussed the role of INGOs in implementing economic and social rights and in monitoring the European Social Charter.
By way of introduction, Marie-José Schmitt, Head of the Working Group on the Social Charter and Economic and Social Rights, drew attention to:
- the fact that the working group should enable experiences to be shared and that in order properly to reflect the actual experiences of the people with whom the group’s members were in contact through their associations and to represent them effectively, they needed to employ the most appropriate terms and wording;
- the fact that the INGOs could be useful in the collective complaints mechanism in the 14 countries which had ratified the collective complaints protocol to date;
- the importance of raising INGOs’ awareness of the Social Charter;
- the monitoring system, which required states to submit annual reports on a certain number of articles of the Charter and demonstrate the compliance of their national policies with the requirements of the Charter;
- the four groups of articles monitored over a four-year cycle:
. employment, training, equal opportunities (women, people with disabilities, migrants);
. health, social security, social protection: poverty, elderly persons;
. employment-related rights: implementation of employment legislation for seasonal workers, for instance;
. articles on children, families, migrants (the group of articles to be studied in 2011).
The ensuing debate demonstrated:
- the importance of responding to the call to join the list of INGOs entitled to lodge complaints under the collective complaints mechanism;
- the usefulness of drawing up a practical guide.
The Working Group on the Social Charter and Economic and Social Rights run jointly with the Social Cohesion and Eradication of Poverty Committee would have the task of:
- organising the committee’s work concerning economic and social rights;
- determining the priority objectives on the basis of the situation on the ground;
- promoting the Social Charter in national associations;
- encouraging states to ratify the Revised Social Charter and adopt the collective complaints mechanism.
4. World appeal for a new mobilisation for childhood
- Adopted a proposal that the appeal be submitted to the meeting of the Plenary Conference on 1 October 2009 so that the latter could sign it. Following signature, the appeal would be forwarded to the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Ambassador of Finland, Irma Ertman, Thematic Co-ordinator for Children.
5. Media education
- Considered the work of the Conference of Ministers responsible for the Media and New Communication Services held in Reykjavik on 28 and 29 May 2009 on the theme of “A new notion of media?” and the preparatory forum on 5 May 2009, which had been organised by Gabriel Nissim and attended by many NGOs.
- Accordingly agreed to focus the work of the committee’s Working Group on Media and Human Rights on the subject of media education with a view to producing a proposal that the member states adopt an action plan in this area. The work would involve taking part in a ‘dynamic coalition’, which still had to be set up and would include NGOs, academics, professional associations and representatives of countries that were not members of the Council of Europe but co-operated closely with it.
6. Setting up of a working group on sects and human rights violations
Was informed that, at the request of the Standing Committee, the Chair of the Human Rights Committee had set up a select working group chaired by Annelise Oeschger, Honorary President of the Conference:
- to address the issue of the victims of practices of sects by identifying specific examples of cases where courts had issued rulings against organisations for committing abuses;
- to draw up a comparative study of national legislation on the matter.
7. Round table on human rights defenders, Kyiv, 17-18 September 2009, held by the Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights in co-operation with the INGO Conference
Heard a presentation by Cyril Ritchie, INGO Conference representative at the round table, who underlined the decisive role of human rights defenders in lobbying governments to comply with their commitments and asked INGOs to support them in their task.
8. Other business
This is an unadopted draft document.
Under no circumstances shall it be considered binding on the persons referred to herein.