Statement by the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearance on the Election of Members of the Committee on Enforced Disappearance
Statement by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on the First Meeting of State Parties to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and Election of Members of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances
31 May 2011
The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances* takes note that today the First Conference of States Parties to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is taking place. During the Conference, the first members of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances will be elected. This is an immense development in the fight against enforced disappearances and follows the coming into force of the Convention on 23 December 2010, after the twentieth State ratified the Convention.
The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances at that time welcomed the entry into force of the Convention and the establishment of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. The Working Group is gratified that 26 States have ratified the Convention and 88 States have signed it. The Working Group invites all States that have yet to ratify the Convention to do so and to accept the competence of its Committee under articles 31 and 32.
The entry into force of the Convention is largely due to the efforts, over at least thirty years, of the families of disappeared persons to bring to the attention of the international community the extent of this heinous crime. During the negotiations to draft the Convention, the relatives of disappeared persons had to fight for the establishment of the Committee which was considered by some as unnecessary duplication. In their demand, the families have been strongly supported by the Working Group which has always stressed the fact that two mechanisms will be complementary.
The role of many States in bringing about the Convention, and supporting the fight against enforced disappearances, must also be noted. States have made admirable strides in this regard. It is States that met to draft the Convention, supported by the NGO community and others, and it is States that have seen that sufficient ratification to bring the Convention into force, have occurred.
Like for many other thematic human rights issues including torture, racial discrimination, discrimination against women, rights of the child, and a series of civil, cultural, economic, political, social rights, the Committee and the Working Group will coexist side by side and collaborate where possible to assist States in their fight against enforced disappearances.
This collaboration will take into account that while the competence of the Committee will be limited to those States that have ratified the Convention, the Working Group is able to consider the situation in all countries. While the Committee will be competent to deal with those cases of enforced disappearances which took place after the entry into force of the Convention the Working Group may examine all situations regardless of when they occurred.
The Members of the Working Group look forward to exchanging views on how to cooperate for the realization of the rights of disappeared persons and their families during the first bilateral meeting between the two mechanisms which will be organized in November in Geneva. The Working Group looks forward to a very productive relationship with the Committee in the fight to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances around the world.
(*) The Working Group is comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Mr. Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa) and the other members are Mr. Ariel Dulitzky (Argentina), Ms. Jasminka Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Mr. Osman El-Hajjé (Lebanon) and Mr. Olivier de Frouville (France).
The Working Group was established by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives. It endeavours to establish a channel of communication between the families and the Governments concerned, to ensure that individual cases are investigated, with the objective of clarifying the whereabouts of persons who, having disappeared, are placed outside the protection of the law. In view of the Working Group’s humanitarian mandate, clarification occurs when the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person is clearly established. The Working Group continues to address cases of disappearances until they are resolved. It also provides assistance in the implementation by States of the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
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