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The Arab Permanent Committee on Human Rights is responsible for establishing the rules of cooperation among member states in the field of human rights. Established in 1968 as a technical committee, it consists of one representative from each member state who serves as a political representative. The Permanent Committee meets twice a year in Cairo, usually around January/February and June. The issues it considers during these meetings are limited to topics referred by the League Council, Secretary General or member states. The recommendations produced by these meetings are then included in the reports of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
In 2007 the Permanent Committee’s responsibilities were outlined in Resolution 6826, Regular Session 1285 of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. It does not have the ability to accept individual complaints or conduct country inquiries by request of CSOs, nor does it possess any special procedures.
The Arab Permanent Committee on Human Rights is responsible for:
- Establishing rules of cooperation among member states in the field of human rights;
- Formulating an Arab position on human rights issues at the regional and international level;
- Drafting human rights treaties, to be referred to the Arab League Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs for adoption;
- Studying Arab agreements pertaining to human rights in order to give an opinion on their compatibility with human rights principles and standards;
- Promoting the implementation of human rights treaties and recommendations;
- Providing recommendations on any issues related to human rights that is referred to the Permanent Committee by the Council or the Arab League General Secretariat or any of the member states;
- Promoting cooperation in the field of human rights education.
Tackling violence against women and CSO Engagement: Observer Status
The Permanent Committee can grant certain CSOs observer status. However, restrictive criteria (outlined in the Permanent Committee’s rules of procedure) for gaining this status has resulted in very few organisations attaining it.
It is important to note that this status is not consultative and CSOs are not allowed to contribute to any proceedings. This means that observer status is very limited, preventing CSOs from seeing documents in advanced or engaging with the Permanent Committee’s agenda items.
- Open Society Foundations has also produced a manual outlining specific qualifications and procedures (available in Arabic and English)