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Mr. Ahmed Herzenni represented the International Coordination Committee in the 100th anniversary session of the Human Rights Committee.

President of the Advisory Council on Human Rights (CCDH), Mr. Ahmed Herzenni, represented the International Coordination Committee of national human rights institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights (ICC), in his capacity as the President of the African Network of NHRIs, in the 100th anniversary session of the Human Rights Committee, on 29 October 2010, at the Palais de Nations in Geneva.

In this occasion, Mr. Herzenni said that the ICC is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to today’s discussions from the perspective of national human rights institutions. He indicated that national human rights institutions work to bridge the gap between the international human rights standards and national realities. He added that they contribute to the Human Rights Committee’s monitoring process, and promote the implementation of the Human Rights Committee’s recommendations at the national level.

Mr. Herzenni underlined that strategic cooperation between the Human Rights Committee and NHRIs can help enforce the provisions of the ICCPR to an extent that might not otherwise occur. Yet, he added, there is scope for developing the cooperation further.

He further indicated that while the Human Rights Committee has not yet adopted a General Comment on the role of NHRIs, the Committee itself has with increasing frequency referred to the roles of NHRIs in concluding observations on consideration of country reports. In concluding observations between January 2000 and November 2007, he added, the Human Rights Committee made comments or recommendations on the functioning of NHRIs in relation to 30 different country reports.

The Human Rights Committee’s reporting system, in particular, he said, has been key in stimulating the creation of constituencies to promote implementation of human rights. NHRIs themselves have become increasingly involved in independent reporting to the Human Rights Committee and are now seen as an authoritative source of information in the process of considering country reports.

The Committee’s work and general comments are contributing to the development of new laws, policies and programs at the national level, and are regularly advocated and referred to by NHRIs.

In some cases, Mr. Herzenni added, NHRIs have directly drawn from the Human Rights Committee’s jurisprudence and General Comments to interpret a provision of the ICCPR and assess whether it has been violated.

Many NHRIs have powers to inspect prisons and other places of detention and make frequent references to the Human Rights Committee in their reports on such visits.

The process of reporting provides a platform for national dialogue on civil and political rights among the various stakeholders, and an opportunity for public scrutiny of government policies, while the views expressed in the Committee’s concluding observations may provide a framework for joint follow up action by national human rights institutions, Governments, United Nations entities, civil society and others.

The follow-up procedures, which the Human Rights Committee has established, both for views on individual communications and for concluding observations, allow the Committee to trace more clearly the specific results achieved through its work. NHRIs in turn can monitor implementation of recommendations, advise the State on implementation strategies, and report back to the Committee on achievements and challenges.

In this regard, Mr. Herzenni acknowledged the impact of the work of the Committee and its members and emphasized that “we must not and cannot forget those who are still denied these precious rights and fundamental freedoms”. “It is incumbent on us all to champion their cause” he added.

NHRIs address, he indicated, some of the challenges faced by the Human Rights Committee, not least as a result of the growth in human rights treaties and the number of States accepting to be bound by them. These challenges include also non or delayed compliance with reporting obligations, the limitation on the capacity of the treaty bodies to consider reports, and complaints, in a timely and quality manner, and financial and human resource constraints confronting the secretariat that supports the work of treaty bodies.

Among other things, NHRIs recommended that all treaty bodies take due account of the independent status of A accredited NHRIs and the particular role that they have in national human rights protection and the contribution they can make to the treaty body monitoring process.

NHRIs and the ICC are committed to continued involvement in the work of the Human Rights Committee, with a view to ensuring that civil and political rights and freedoms are enjoyed by everyone, everywhere, everyday.

In June 2010, NHRIs from around the world gathered in Marrakech to discuss ways to strengthen the relationship between NHRIs and the treaty bodies (including the Human Rights Committee) that monitor implementation of the international human rights treaties.

The Human Rights Committee was created by virtue of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Covenant by its State parties. The Committee meets in Geneva or New York and normally holds three sessions per year.