Remarks in a UN Third Committee Interactive Dialogue with Chair of the Human Rights Committee

Mordica Simpson
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY
October 14, 2019


Thank you, Mr. Chair and thank you, Mr. Fathalla, for your presentation of the report of the Human Rights Committee.

We note the Committee’s increasing backlog of individual communications, which has doubled from 2011 to 2018, according to your report. We are concerned that this may compromise the Committee’s essential functions and effectiveness.

We applaud the Committee for the seriousness with which it has engaged on treaty body reform. The Committee is at the vanguard among the treaty bodies in its commitment to reform, as exemplified by its decision last month to implement far-reaching reforms to make States’ reports and the Committee’s recommendations more focused.

We are following with great interest the Committee’s work with respect to draft General Comment 37 on the right of peaceful assembly, and look forward to continuing to engage with you on it. We believe that the Committee can serve a valuable purpose in sharing its interpretations of the provisions of the ICCPR for the state parties’ consideration. We want to emphasize our concern, however, with the Committee’s tendency to make highly expansive interpretations and overbroad characterizations of the international law obligations contained within the ICCPR. We believe that some of these characterizations, particularly as we saw in General Comment 36 on the Right to Life, detract from the overall work of the Committee and risk discrediting its conclusions.

Chair: Beyond the reforms the Committee has already undertaken, has the Committee discussed additional measures that might address this backlog of communications?

In addition: How best can States encourage the other treaty bodies to put the Chairs’ vision statement from June 2019 into practice by adopting actual reforms in the short term? Do you predict that they will do so in the near future?