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The Human Rights Committee is a United Nations body of 18 experts that meets three times a year for four-week sessions (spring session at UN headquarters in New York, summer and fall sessions at the UN Office in Geneva) to consider the five-yearly reports submitted by 162 UN member states on their compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and to examine individual petitions concerning 112 States parties to the Optional Protocol [1].

The Committee is one of eight UN-linked human rights treaty bodies.

States that have ratified or acceded to the First Optional Protocol (currently 112 countries) have agreed to allow persons within their jurisdiction to submit complaints to the Committee requesting a determination whether provisions of the Covenant have been violated. For those countries, the Human Rights Committee functions as a mechanism for the international redress of human rights abuses, similar to the regional mechanisms afforded by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights or the European Court of Human Rights. The First Optional Protocol entered into force on 23 March 1976.

The Second Optional Protocol, in force since 11 July 1991, addresses the abolition of the death penalty and has been ratified by 71 states.

The Human Rights Committee should not be confused with the more high-profile Commission on Human Rights, a Charter-based mechanism, or its replacement, the Human Rights Council. Whereas the Commission on Human Rights was a political forum where states debated all human rights concerns (since June 2006, replaced by the Council in that function), the Human Rights Committee is a treaty-based mechanism where a group of experts examines reports and rules on individual communications pertaining only to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It remains disputed whether the Human Rights Committee's "Views under artible 5(4) of the Optional Protocol" qualify as decisions of a quasi-judicial body or simply constitute authoritative interpretations on the merits of the cases brought before them.

The members of the Human Rights Committee, who must be "of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights", are elected by the member states but on an individual basis, not as representatives of their countries. They serve four-year terms, with one-half of their number elected every second year at the General Assembly.


Name State Term
Abdelfattah Amor  Tunisia 2006–2010
Mohammed Ayat  Morocco 2008–2012
Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati  India 2006–2010
Christine Chanet  France 2006–2010
Ahmad Amin Fathalla  Egypt 2008–2012
Yuji Iwasawa  Japan 2006–2010
Helen Keller  Switzerland 2008–2010
Rajsoomer Lallah  Mauritius 2008–2012
Bouzib Lazhart  Algeria 2008–2012
Zonke Zanele Majodina  South Africa 2006–2010
Iulia Motoc  Romania 2006–2010
Michael O'Flaherty  Ireland 2008–2012
José Luis Pérez Sánchez-Cerro  Peru 2006–2010
Rafael Rivas Posada  Colombia 2008–2012
Nigel S. Rodley  United Kingdom 2006–2010
Fabian Omar Salvioli  Argentina 2008–2012
Krister Thelin  Sweden 2008–2012
Ruth Wedgwood  United States 2006–2010

External links


  1. ^ Jakob Th. Möller/Alfred de Zayas, The United Nations Human Rights Committee Case Law 1977-2008, N.P.Engel Publishers, Kehl/Strasbourg, 2009, ISBN 978-3-88357-144-7


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