Global perspective Human stories

UN human rights panel set to open first session of 2003 in Geneva

UN human rights panel set to open first session of 2003 in Geneva

The United Nations expert panel monitoring the efforts of world governments to ensure respect for civil liberties, promote self-determination, and safeguard fundamental freedoms will open its first substantive session of 2003 next week in Geneva.

The 18-member UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols - the first allowing individuals to submit complaints to the Committee, and the second aiming at the abolition of the death penalty - will open its seventy-seventh session on Monday.

During the three-week session, the experts will examine reports submitted by the Governments of Estonia, Luxembourg and Mali on measures taken to implement the Covenant, which recognizes that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. The treaty also prohibits torture, cruel or degrading treatment, as well as propaganda for war or advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred. It also recognizes the rights to freedom of expression and religion, and, among other things, places limitations on the expulsion of aliens present lawfully in the territory of a State party.

The countries presenting reports are among the 150 States parties to the Covenant, which was adopted along with the first Optional Protocol in 1966 by the UN General Assembly. Under the first Protocol, 103 States parties recognize the competence of the Committee to consider confidential communications from persons claiming to be victims of violations of any rights proclaimed under the treaty. Currently 295 communications are awaiting consideration. Forty-eight States parties have ratified or acceded to the Covenant's Second Optional Protocol.