Human Rights Committee

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR) and its first Optional Protocol allowing individuals to submit complaints to the Human Rights Committee were adopted by the General Assembly on 16 December 1966 and entered into force on 23 March 1976. The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, was adopted on 15 December 1989 and entered into force on 11 July 1991.

The Human Rights Committee was established to monitor the implementation of the Covenant and the Protocols to the Covenant in the territory of States parties. It is composed of 18 independent experts who are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights. The Committee convenes three times a year for sessions of three weeks' duration, normally in March at United Nations headquarters in New York and in July and November at the United Nations Office in Geneva.

Each session of the Committee is preceded by two simultaneous pre-sessional working groups established under rules 62 and 89 of its rules of procedure. The working group established under rule 89 is entrusted with the task of making recommendations to the Committee regarding communications received under the Optional Protocol.

The working group established under rule 62 is mandated to prepare concise lists of issues concerning the State reports to be examined by the Committee during the following session. Under article 40 of the Covenant, States parties must submit reports every five years on the measures they have adopted which give effect to the rights recognized in the Covenant and on the progress made in the enjoyment of those rights. The reports are subsequently examined by the Committee in public meetings, through a dialogue with representatives of each State party whose report is under consideration. On the final day of the session, the Committee adopts concluding observations summarizing its main concerns and making appropriate suggestions and recommendations to the State party. Although only members of the Committee and representatives of the relevant State party may take part in the dialogue, non-governmental organizations are encouraged to submit written information or reports to the Committee.

The Committee submits to the General Assembly an annual report on its activities.

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Human Rights Committee