Elections of the CESCR/Elecciones del CDESC/ รฉlections du Comitรฉ sur les DESC

The upcoming elections of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Committee) and urge you all to get involved to ensure the election of independent members with strong ESCR expertise The term of 9 of the 18 members of the Committee will expire on 31 December 2010, states parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) will be asked to nominate new candidates for the Committee start in October 2009, and elections will take place on April 2010. The individual members elected will have an impact on the overall quality and effectiveness of this body. With the Optional Protocol now in place, the strength and capacity of the Committee becomes even more critical.

Why NGO involvement matters

There is no requirement under the terms of the ICESCR for states parties to ensure an open and transparent process at the national level for the identification of possible candidates. Consequently, the selection and nomination process at the national level, are very opaque in terms of who is selected and why. There are limited opportunities for effective NGO participation in the elections, unless NGOs try to stimulate a better process.

There are additional weaknesses of the system. Although international human rights treaties require members of the treaty bodies to be โ€œindependentโ€, states parties too often nominate and elect individuals who are holding executive positions in their government. In addition, some individuals have limited background or experience relevant to the ESCR field. The composition of the Committee is also very unbalanced in terms of gender (only 3 of the 18 current members are women). In addition very few states parties nominate candidates, leaving the election process at the international level almost uncontested. Elections by states parties for individuals to serve on international expert bodies take place through secret balloting and often after vote-trading, making the election process at the international level nontransparent. Such practices by states parties have a negative impact on the overall quality, effectiveness, reputation and impact of the Committee. Given the importance of the Committee, we consider that it is key to target efforts at both national and international levels to overcome these shortcomings.

The forthcoming election of committee members

The Committee is composed of 18 experts, who are elected for a period of four years. Members can be re-elected once their term is up, and there are no limits on the number of terms they can serve on the Committee. The members whose term expires are:

More information on the current members of the Committee can be accessed at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/members.htm. The newer treaties, such as the Optional Protocol to Convention Against Torture and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, have established two term limits for members serving on the Committee.

Elections will take place for at least one member coming from each UN regional group: Africa, Asia, Eastern European, Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC), and the Western and Other Group (WEOG).

The election of new members to the Committee takes place by secret ballot through the 54-member ECOSOC. A list of ECOSOC members until 31 December 2009 is available here: http://www.un.org/ecosoc/about/members.shtml. The rules governing the nomination and election of members of the Committee were established by ECOSOC Resolution 1985/17, which can be accessed here: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/ECOSOC/resolutions/E-RES-1985-17.doc

It should be noted that nationals from the following states already sit on the Committee and their terms do not expire until 2012: Belarus, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, France, Jordan, Mauritius, the Netherlands and Poland. While there is nothing in Resolution 1985/17 to prevent these states parties from putting forward another candidate, it has not been the practice of this Committee to have more than one national among its members.


What NGOs can do to promote a strong and independent CESCR:

The NGO Coalition does not intend to take a position for or against individuals nominated or elected to serve as members of the Committee. However we encourage organizations to promote the nomination by states parties and election at ECOSOC of qualified, independent and capable members.

Recommended Actions

Members in States that are parties to the ICESCR: http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-3&chapter=4&lang=en are asked to carry out the following recommended actions

*Target: Ministry of Foreign Affairs or other relevant Ministerial-level authority.

*Key message:, encourage your country to nominate at least one qualified, independent and capable candidate (except in those countries where nationals are already sitting on the Committee or where you do not believe that the present government of your country will support independent and qualified candidates) for the election. Advocate for an open, fair and transparent process at the national level for the identification and selection of highly qualified and independent candidates. In general, try to engage with the state and civil society in an open, inclusive, fair and transparent selection process.

If your government is a member of ECOSOC, encourage them to vote only for candidates who meet criteria of independence and impartiality and who are experts in the field of economic, social and cultural rights.

*Timing: Please take action as early as possible, bearing in mind that the deadline for nominations will be in January 2010 (date still to be confirmed).

A) In addition, you could:

After your initial contact request a meeting with high-level representatives of your government and/or regularly follow up with relevant contacts in the Ministerial administration to encourage the government to:

Make every effort to identify and nominate independent and highly qualified candidates. Develop procedures at the national level to ensure an open, inclusive, transparent and fair process aimed at attracting and selecting a gender-balanced pool of highly qualified persons, from a range of relevant backgrounds, who meet the criteria to stand for election as a member of the Committee. Ensure that a call for nominations and applications by experts who meet the criteria is widely publicized and advertised throughout the country and that civil society organizations competent in the areas covered by the ICESCR are involved in all stages of the nomination procedure. Consult with civil society and give due consideration to the setting up of appropriate mechanisms for this purpose โ€“ including the establishment of a selection committee, to review and โ€“ if necessary โ€“ further specify the requirements potential candidates must meet and conduct interviews with applicants. Once a candidate has been selected, make a detailed, public statement setting out how the selected nominee meets the criteria of the ICESCR as well as any other technical and objective requirements necessary to perform the duties of a Committee member, effectively, independently and impartially.

B ) Suggestion for additional actions - other targets

*Targets: Parliamentarians, national human rights institutions, NGO partners

*Key message: Support your organizations call on the government as outlined in the sections above and get involved.

*Timing: Before deadline for nominations in January 2010.

Members of Parliament


Your feedback is very important to us. Please get back to us to let us know:

Please send your feedback to Suad Elเนas at: op-coalition@escr-net.org +1 (212) 681 1236 Ext 26.

Source: OP Coalition

Email from: IWRAW Asia Pacific

When: 7/2/2014

Last modified: Friday, 07 February 2014 06:02:58 Valid XHTML 1.1