States Parties to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Elect Nine New Members of Human Rights Committee

24 June 2014
States Parties to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1st Meeting (AM)

States Parties to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Elect Nine New Members of Human Rights Committee

Expert Member from Mauritius Fills Vacancy Created by Compatriot’s Resignation

The thirty-fourth Meeting of States Parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights re-elected three members to the Human Rights Committee today, while choosing five new ones and filling one vacancy on the monitoring body.

Elected by secret ballot to four-year terms beginning on 1 January 2015 and ending on 31 December 2018, the five new Committee members will replace others whose terms expired on 31 December 2013.  The terms of the three re-elected members will expire by the end of 2014.

The three re-elected Committee members were Yadh Ben Achour (Tunisia), Yuji Iwasawa (Japan) and Margo Waterval (Suriname).  The new ones were Sarah H. Cleveland (United States), Olivier de Frouville (France), Ivana Jelic (Montenegro), Duncan Muhumuza Laki (Uganda), Photini Pazartzis (Greece) and Mauro Politi (Italy).

D.B. Seetulsingh (Mauritius), elected by acclamation, will fill a vacancy created by the resignation of his compatriot, Kheshoe Parsad Matadeen, whose term was due to expire on 31 December 2016.

Also by acclamation, the States parties elected Mamadou Tangara (Gambia) as Chairperson and Fernando Fernandez-Arias (Spain) as Vice-Chairperson of the Meeting.

Nardi Claudic (Liechtenstein), congratulating the newly elected members, commended the Human Rights Committee’s improved working methods, describing resolution 68/268 as a landmark document, and expressing confidence that the “reformatting” would effectively deal with that body’s increasing workload.

At the outset, Ben Majekodunmi, Chief of the Inter-Governmental and Outreach Section in the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave an overview of the Human Rights Committee, saying its workload had grown since 2012.  There had also been a welcome increase in the number of States parties to the Covenant and its two Optional Protocols.  In addition, the State of Palestine had signed up, bringing the number of parties to 168, while Guinea-Bissau had become a State party to the Optional Protocol establishing an individual complaint mechanism for the International Covenant, bringing the total number of States parties to 115.  Seven States had joined the Second Optional Protocol aimed at abolishing the death penalty, which was particularly notable given that its twenty-fifth anniversary would be observed later in the year.

Since 2012, the Committee had examined 27 reports submitted by States parties, and one country situation in the absence of a report, he continued.  It had also adopted final decisions in relation to 154 communications under the Optional Protocol procedure, but due to a backlog, 150 communications were still awaiting decisions, pending examination by the Committee.  The Committee continued to adopt lists of issues prior to reporting under its new procedure.  To date, it had adopted 15 such lists, and had received its first report from Uruguay last October, he said, encouraging States parties to consider making use of the simplified reporting procedure.

The Committee continued to adapt its working methods over the last two years in order to ensure efficient use of both time and resources, he said.  Two chambers were now running simultaneously, reports were issued more regularly and meetings of the Bureau were held outside official meeting times.  Recalling the Committee’s last annual report (document A/68/40), he also acknowledged the additional resources granted by the General Assembly.

Mandated to monitor implementation of the International Covenant and its Optional Protocols within the territory of each State party, the Human Rights Committee comprises 18 independent experts of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights.  It is elected by States parties, with half its members elected every second year, and all serving four-year terms.  The Committee convenes three times a year for three-week sessions, two of which are held in Geneva and one in New York.

The 1966 International Covenant commits its 168 States parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, in addition to electoral and due process rights, and the right to a fair trial.  It lays out fundamental human rights in areas such as self-determination and discrimination.  Particular articles establish a ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Voting Results

The results of the balloting were as follows:

Number of ballot papers:


Number of invalid ballots:


Number of valid ballots:




Present and voting:


Required (absolute) majority:


Number of votes obtained:

Yadh Ben Achour (Tunisia)


Sarah H. Cleveland (United States)


Cornelis Flinterman (Netherlands)


Olivier de Frouville (France)


Roberto Garreton (Chile)


Yuji Iwasawa (Japan)


Ivana Jelic (Montenegro)


Duncan Muhumuza Laki (Uganda)


Nkhata Mwiza (Malawi)


Photini Pazartzis (Greece)


Mauro Politi (Italy)


Zohra Rasekh (Afghanistan)


Margo Waterval (Suriname)


For information media. Not an official record.