|Available human rights mechanisms||Summary|
|Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)||
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is responsible for leading the United Nations human rights programme and for promoting and protecting all human rights established under the Charter of the United Nations and international human rights law.
|Human Rights Committee: State Reporting Procedure||
The Human Rights Committee (hereinafter referred to as HR Committee or Committee) is a treaty-based mechanism which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (see: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htm) by State Parties. This is done through the examination of regular reports from States Parties (for States Parties see http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&c...) The report is examined through a six-hour (periodic reports) or nine-hour (initial reports) dialogue between the Committee and representatives of the State. During the dialogue Committee members may raise any civil or political rights issues, including rights not addressed in the State report. After the dialogue, the Committee produces Concluding Observations, which outline recommendations, and comment on the State's practice and legislation.
The Committee addresses conscientious objection to military service under article 18 of the ICCPR.
|Human Rights Committee: Communication procedure||
The First Optional Protocol establishes an individual complaints mechanism, allowing individuals to complain to the Human Rights Committee about a violation of one or several of their rights guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Communications may only be submitted against a State that has ratified the First Optional Protocol and after domestic remedies have been exhausted. In addition, the claim should not have been submitted to another treaty body mechanism, nor to a regional mechanism such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, or the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights.
If the Committee finds that a State Party has failed in its obligations under the ICCPR, it will require that the violation be remedied and ask that the State Party provide follow-up information in this regard. The Human Rights Committee's decisions and its follow-up activities are made public and are included in the Committee's Annual Report to the General Assembly.
|Committee on the Rights of the Child: State Reporting Procedure||
The Committee on the Rights of the Child is a treaty-based mechanism which monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (see: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm) and its Optional Protocols on the Sale of Children (OP1, see: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc-sale.htm) and on Children in Armed Conflict (OP2, see http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc-conflict.htm) by State Parties. This is done through regular reports from States Parties (for States Parties to the CRC see http://treaties.un.org/Pages/Treaties.aspx?id=4&subid=A&lang=en, for OP1 see http://treaties.un.org/Pages/Treaties.aspx?id=4&subid=A&lang=en and for OP2 see http://treaties.un.org/Pages/Treaties.aspx?id=4&subid=A&lang=en). The reports are examined through a dialogue between the Committee and representatives of the State. During this dialogue Committee members may raise and child rights issues, including rights not addressed in the state reports. After the dialogue, the Committee produces Concluding Observations, which outline recommendations, and comments on the State's practice and legislation.
The Committee will only address issues related to under-18s. For States Parties to the Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict, the Committee addresses issues such as recruitment of minors, or excessive military recruitment efforts in schools. Although article 14 of the Convention guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, this mechanism is less likely to be directly relevant in relation to the right to conscientious objection to military service, but can be useful to highlight issues of recruitment of minors, irregular recruitment, and military in schools.
|Committee on the Rights of the Child: Optional Protocol on Communications||
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure from 19 December 2011 (see http://treaties.un.org/doc/source/signature/2012/CTC_4-11d.pdf) establishes an individual complaints mechanism, allowing individuals to complain to the Committee on the Rights of the Child about a violation of the Convention or any one of the Optional Protocols to which the State is a party. Before submitting a complaint, domestic remedies have to be exhausted, unless these would be unreasonably prolonged or not effective. The complaint should also not have been submitted to any other procedure of international investigation or settlement.
If the Committee finds that a State Party has failed in its obligations under the CRC or its Optional Protocols, it will require that the violation be remedied and ask the State Party to provide follow-up information in this regard. The decisions of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and its follow-up activities are made public and are included in the Committee' Annual Report to the General Assembly.
At the time of writing (August 2012), the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure was not yet in force, as it had not yet been ratified by more than 10 States. Check for the status of ratification at http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11-...
|United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)||
In 2006 the The United Nations Human Rights Council replaced the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN human rights system made up of 47 States elected by the UN General Assembly responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. Its main purpose is addressing situations of human rights violations and making recommendations on them. Its mandate was established by General Assembly resolution 60/251 from 15 March 2006.
|Universal Periodic Review (UPR)||
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was established along with the Human Rights Council by resolution 60/251 in 2006 and is a unique mechanism of the United Nations human rights system which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States once every 4½ years, based on the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and any other human rights instruments to which the State under review is a party, and voluntary pledges and commitments made by the State. During the review process, other States examine the human rights practice of a State under review based on information provided by the State, a compilation of relevant UN documents prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) and information provided by other stakeholders, including NGOs (compiled by the OHCHR).
Other states may ask questions and make recommendations, which the State under review may accept or reject. The result of this review is reflected in an “outcome report” listing the recommendations made to the State under review. Until the next due review, the State under review has now four years time to implement the accepted recommendations and fulfil its voluntary pledges.
The second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review started at the 13th session of the Human Rights Council in May 2012, and will run until November 2016.
|Human Rights Council Special Procedures||
“Special procedures” is the name given to the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council to monitor human rights violations in specific countries or examine global human rights issues. There are basically two different mandates:
The principal functions of Special Procedures are:
In individual cases they can send so called communications (urgent appeals and letters of allegation) on alleged violations of human rights to the Governments concerned.
|Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief||
The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. It was formerly known as the Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance and was originally created by the UN Commission on Human Rights.
|Working Group on Arbitrary Detention||
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, established as a Special Procedure in 1991, under the mandate of the former UN Commission on Human Rights (replaced by the Human Rights Council in 2006), investigates cases of arbitrarily detained people worldwide. It receives information regarding alleged cases of arbitrary detention by the individuals directly concerned, their families, their representatives or NGOs, and sends urgent appeals and communications to the concerned Governments to clarify the conditions of those allegedly detained. Under this mandate the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers cases without legal basis for the detention, cases where the right to a fair trial has been so badly violated that it makes the subsequent detention invalid, and cases of prisoners of conscience.
Examples of the kind of issues the Working Group examines include:
Furthermore it conducts country visits to countries that issued an invitation and presents annual reports to the Human Rights Council.
There is an online database of documents of the Working Group at http://www.unwgaddatabase.org/un/.
|Human Rights Council Complaint Procedure||
The Complaint Procedure of the Human Rights Council is a confidential procedure to address consistent patterns of gross and reliably attested human rights violations. It is therefore not suitable for individual cases except when they are representative of a pattern of reliably attested human rights violations.
|The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights: overview||
The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) from 1981, which entered into force in 1986, is Africa's oldest human rights instrument, and established the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.
|African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights: State Reporting Procedure||
Under the ACHPR, states are required to submit reports to the African Commission on measures taken to ensure that the rights enshrined in the African Charter are being implemented. The state reporting procedure is considered as a dialogue, in which the state concerned and the African Commission exchange their views. The state report is published by the African Commission prior to the session, to give civil society the opportunity to comment on the report of the state.
The state report is reviewed in public, and following the dialogue the African Commission will issue "Concluding Remarks/Observations" to the state concerned. The state's report and the Concluding Remarks/Observations are transmitted to the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, and are only later published by the African Commission.
So far, conscientious objection to military service has not been addressed by the African Commission.
|African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights: Communication Procedure||
Under Articles 55 and 56 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, everyone can submit information or communications to the African Commission. By submitting a communication to the African Commission, victims of human rights abuses who for one reason or another could not obtain justice in their countries after exhausting all the available legal remedies may obtain help. A case that has been submitted to the African Commission should not at the same time be submitted to another international human rights system.
Before the African Commission investigates the substance of a complaint, it will bring the complaint to the attention of the State concerned. However, the complainant can specify that he or she wishes to remain anonymous (although the complaint itself cannot be submitted anonymously).
Before a decision on the merits of the complaint, the African Commission may request from the State concerned to take provisional measures to prevent irreparable harm to the victim or victims of the alleged violation as urgently as the situation demands.
After investigating a complaint, the African Commission makes a recommendation to the State(s) concerned, to ensure that the occurrences of human rights violations are investigated, that the victim(s) is compensated (if necessary) and that measures are taken to prevent the recurrence of human rights violations. The African Commission also offers its “Good Office” to achieve a friendly settlement of the case.
|African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child: State Reporting Procedure||
The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) draws its mandate from articles 32-46 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC). It was established in July 2001. Part of the mandate of the ACERWC is the monitoring the implementation of the ACRWC. To do so, the ACERWC receives and examines the reports submitted by State parties on the measures they have adopted to give effect to the provisions of the Charter as well as the progress achieved in the exercise of the rights recognised (article 43). Initial State reports were supposed to be submitted within two years of entry into force of the ACRWC, and periodic reports every three years thereafter. An overview of the status of state reports in available on the website of the ACERWC at http://acerwc.org/state-reports/. The due dates of initial reports are available at http://www.africa-union.org/child/Due%20date%20of%20Submission%20of%20Re....
So far, conscientious objection to military service has not been addressed by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The issue of recruitment of minors has only briefly been addressed during the examination of the report of Uganda.
|African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child: Communication Procedure||
Under Article 44 of the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child, any correspondence or any complaint from a State, individual or NGO denouncing acts that are prejudicial to the right or rights of the child shall be considered as communication. However, by 2011 the ACERWC had only received two communications, and had made a decision on one of these two.
|ECOWAS Community Court of Justice||
According to the Supplementary Protocol from 19 January 2005, “the Court has jurisdiction to determine cases of violations of human rights that occur in any Member State.” There is no requirement to exhaust domestic remedies, meaning individuals do not need to pursue national judicial remedies before bringing a claim to the ECOWAS Court of Justice. Rather, the principal requirements are that the application not be anonymous and that the matter is not pending before another international court.
|Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Overview||
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) was created by a resolution of the Fifth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Santiago, Chile, in 1959, and began working in 1960. It became one of the principal organs of the OAS with the Protocol of Buenos Aires from 1967, which amended the Charter of the OAS.
|Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Petition procedure||
According to article 23 of the Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, “any person or group of persons or non-governmental entity legally recognized in one or more of the Member States of the OAS may submit petitions to the Commission, on their behalf or on behalf of third persons, concerning alleged violations of a human right recognized in, as the case may be, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the American Convention on Human Rights”.
|Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE): Human Dimension Implementation Meeting||
The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) is the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) primary conference to discuss the implementation of so-called “human dimension” commitments of OSCE Member States. The term “human dimension” describes the sets of norms and activities related to human rights, the rule of law and democracy that are regarded within the OSCE as one of the three pillars of its concept of Security and Co-operation in Europe. The founding document of the OSCE, the Helsinki Final Act from 1975, defines “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief” as one of the principles guiding the relations between participating States.
|Council of Europe: Commissioner for Human Rights||
The post of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe was created by a resolution of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 7 May 1999.
|European Court of Human Rights||
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is an international human rights court charged with dealing with individual complaints in relation to alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.
|Ibero-American Convention on the Rights of Youth||
The Ibero-American Convention on the Rights of Youth (see English version: http://scout.org/content/download/22369/200853/file/IBEROAMERICAN%2520CO...) was signed in 2005 in the Spanish city of Badajoz, and came into force on 1 March 2008. It applies those States that have ratified it, and is limited to the Ibero-American region, which also includes Spain, Portugal, and Andorra in Europe.
|European Committee of Social Rights: State reporting procedure||
The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) is a treaty-based mechanism where a group of 15 human rights experts examines annual reports of States Parties to the European Social Charter. The European Social Charter is a Council of Europe treaty (adopted in 1961 and revised in 1996) which guarantees rights such as non-discrimination. The European Social Charter does not protect the right to conscientious objection, and is therefore irrelevant to the question of recognition of the right to conscientious objection to military service. However, it can be relevant in cases of a punitive substitute civilian service in countries where conscientious objection is recognised.
|European Committee of Social Rights: Collective Complaint procedure||
The 1995 Additional Protocol to the European Social Charter establishes a system of Collective Complaints, which mainly allows trade unions or their international organisations to file collective complaints with the European Committee of Social Rights in relation to non-compliance with the Charter. The Collective Complaint procedure does not establish a system of individual complaints, but is meant for cases of non-compliance in a State's law or practice with provisions of the European Social Charter.