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- How does it help tackle violence against women?
- Civil society engagement: states reporting procedure
- Contact information
The Arab Human Rights Committee (the “Committee) was established in 2009 to oversee member states’ implementation of the Arab Charter on Human Rights. The Committee does not have any enforcement mechanisms or special procedures, which limits its ability to hold member states accountable.
The Committee consists of seven independent human rights experts who serve in their personal capacity (as opposed to representing their government as a political representative) and are nationals of member states that have ratified the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Candidates for the Committee are nominated by member states and then elected by a secret ballot. Only one expert from each country may sit on the Committee at any given time. Once elected, Committee members serve for four years and are able to stand for reelection once.
The Committee has an administrative and technical secretariat that operates under the General Secretariat. This body prepares studies to assist the Committee’s work and its sessions.
The Arab Human Rights Committee is responsible for:
- Monitoring states human rights performance
- Interpreting the Arab Charter on Human Rights
- Submitting annual reports to the League Council
- Requesting information from Arab League bodies and Arab institutions
- Reviewing states reports: member states who have ratified the Arab Charter on Human Rights are required to submit a report on their compliance with the Charter within one year of ratification, and then every three years following the initial report. The Committee reviews each report and issues conclusions and recommendations to the member state. The Committee may also request additional information from the member state with regard to the content of the report
How does it help tackle violence against women?
Nothing in this Charter may be construed or interpreted as impairing the rights and freedoms protected by the domestic laws of the States parties or those set forth in the international and regional human rights instruments which the States parties have adopted or ratified, including the rights of women, the rights of the child and the rights of persons belonging to minorities.
Preamble to the Arab Charter on Human Rights (emphasis added)
Violence against women is a discriminatory violation of women’s human rights and fundamental freedoms. The establishment of the Arab Human Rights Committee is an opportunity for civil society to bring attention to the ways in which violence occurs and the specific articles within the Arab Charter on Human Rights that are violated through these acts. By submitting parallel reports, attending meetings and disseminating conclusions, civil society organisations can influence the LAS and member states in decision-making that would impact violence against women – positively or negatively.
It should be noted there has been some difficulties for CSOs engaging with the states reporting procedure, as acknowledged by groups like the Open Society Foundation. Although the Committee does not require CSOs have observer status to take part in the reporting procedure, CSOs must have NGO status in their country of origin. Due to strict guidelines at the national level, this recognition has been a challenge for many organisations and subsequently has prevented them from accessing the LAS.
The Arab Human Rights Committee also makes reference to international standards in its work. In addition to the Committee Secretariat’s normal functions, it also keeps track of relevant regional and international agreements, and interpretations of human rights concepts and agreements issued by the United Nations.
Civil Society Engagement: States Reporting Procedure
The reporting guidelines outlined in the Arab Charter on Human Rights and Rules of Procedure are the Committee’s primary mechanism for ensuring member states comply with their human rights obligations. By making the Committee’s recommendations public and providing opportunities for civil society engagement, the reporting procedure may be helpful in holding states accountable and tackling violence against women in the region.
In broad terms, the states reporting procedure takes place in 6 steps:
- Member states prepare reports in accordance with the guidelines (and, in some cases, a list of questions) provided by the Committee
- Completed reports are submitted to the Secretary General, who then passes them to the Committee
- Civil society organisations are invited to prepare parallel (also known as “shadow”) reports to to the Committee, alongside the state reports
- Committee announces receipt of reports and dates for consideration of reports
- Committee review reports and meets with state representatives to discuss
- Civil society organisations are invited to obsere these discussions – those that have submitted parallel reports may be invited to attend a closed meeting with the Committee
- Conclusions, recommendations and remarks on reports are adopted by absolute majority
- Conclusions and recommendations are made public
- Civil society organisations assist in disseminating the conclusions and recommendations, as well as initiating follow up with member states
As indicated above, there are several entry points for CSOs to engage with the states reporting procedure and Committee. Additionally, CSOs may also work directly with states to raise awareness of violence against women throughout the region and the necessary steps that need to be taken to end it.
In preparing parallel reports to be submitted to the Committee, CSOs are encouraged to follow the same reporting guidelines provided to member states. There are specific guidelines for the content and format of reports that must be followed when preparing a parallel report, and CSOs interested in doing so are encouraged to access the LAS website for more information.
Want more? Visit the Committee’s website to view the latest states reports and learn about the procedure for submitting parallel reports
- Open Society Foundations has also produced a manual with more information for CSOs wishing to submit parallel reports to the Committee and engage with the work of the LAS
21 ش محمد مظهر- فندق هيلتون الزمالك- القاهرة- جمهورية مصر العربية