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Cast your vote for the best United Nations treaty body decision of 2023!

Inspired by the annual polls of the Strasbourg Observers of the European Court of Human Rights judgments, our research team invites you to participate in our poll to choose the best UNTB Decision of 2023

Researchers of the “Deep Impact through Soft Jurisprudence? The Contribution of United Nations Treaty Body Case Law to the Development of International Human Rights Law” project at the Hertie School Centre for Fundamental Rights would like to take the end of 2023 as an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the contributions of the UNTBs to international human rights law. Our research team has shortlisted ten decisions from different UNTBs, which were either adopted or published in 2023. These decisions are selected due to their contributions to the development of UNTB case law and international human rights law.

Join our poll to choose the Best UNTB Decision of 2023. Our poll will be closed on 31 January and the result will be announced on our webpage.

We picked two decisions from the Human Rights Committee (HRC):

  • In Krikkerik v Russia, the HRC addressed violent attacks against the applicant by counter-demonstrators during a pride event. It found that although the authorities were aware of the threats, they did not take measures to guarantee the applicant’s safety and failed to conduct an effective investigation.  For the HRC, the failure to classify this incident as a hate crime derived from the lack of a clear legislative basis to protect LGBT individuals from discrimination.
  • In Taylor et al v New Zealand the Human Rights committee seminally focused on the automatic disenfranchisement of prisoners due to their criminal conviction. In finding a violation of the applicants’ right to vote, the HRC pointed out that disenfranchisement was an additional and separate punishment and there existed no reasonable connection between the nature of the offence and the act of disenfranchisement.

We picked two decisions from the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

  • Jallow v Denmark concerned an art exhibition displaying derogatory and sarcastic pictures against black and Roma people. According to the CERD, the Danish authorities failed to provide a proportionate response to this incident of racist hate speech by taking the decision not to prosecute the artist and the organizers.
  • In Anne Nourgam v. Finland the CERD addressed the addition of new voters to the electoral roll for the Sami Parliament although they do not fulfill the objective criteria of Sami membership. The CERD concluded that this could artificially modify the electoral constituency of the Sami Parliament and affect its capacity to truly represent the Sami people and their interests.

From the Committee against Torture (CAT) we picked one decision:

  • C.P. et al v France is about the repatriation of nationals from camps in the Northern Syria. The CAT decided that the women and children detained in those camps had a jurisdictional link with France as their state of nationality and France had the capacity and authority to protect their rights by repatriating them or providing other consular measures. France’s failure to adopt these measures, according to the CAT, breached positive obligations to protect the applicants from inhuman conditions.

From the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), we have:

  • Alonzo et al v. Philippines. This concerns the victims of sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War, also known as the “comfort women” system. The applicants claimed that they were not included in the negotiations of the Treaty of Peace with Japan under which the Philippines waived its right to seek further reparations and the Philippines failed to provide reparations for the harm they suffered. The CEDAW found that the applicants were discriminated against in relation to their right to obtain restitution, compensation and rehabilitation.

We propose two decisions from the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD):

  • Bellini v. Italy concerns the failure to provide social security for a mother of a person with disability. Although the applicant had no disability, the CRPD found the case admissible emphasizing the importance of family caregivers and the obligation of the state to assist families. The CRPD also held that Article 5 covered “discrimination by association.”
  • Gashao Mangisto and Shaaban al-Sayed v. State of Palestine concerns to the disappearance of two Israeli nationals having psychosocial disabilities in Gaza. The CRPD held that although Palestine’s ability to exercise authority in Gaza is hindered, it still had positive obligations take the diplomatic, economic, judicial or other measures that are within its power and concluded that Palestine breached several articles of the Convention read alone and in conjunction with Article 11.

Our list also includes one decision from the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED):

  • Angélica María Berrospe Medina v Mexico concerns abduction of a 17-year-old boy from his home by armed men wearing police uniforms. Having decided that his disappearance was enforced disappearance withing the meaning of Article 2, the CED decided that Mexico failed to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation without delay into his disappearance, take appropriate measures to search for and locate him, establish the truth surrounding his disappearance and ensure his and his mother’s rights to reparation. 

Finally, our team nominates one decision from the Committee of the Rights of the Child (CRC):

  • B. J. and P.J. v Czech Republic concerns the separation of two adolescents from their mother and their placement in institutional care. The CRC decided that their removal was not in their best interests in violation of their right not to be separated from their parents against their will (Article 9) and they were deprived of their liberty (Article 37(b)). In this case, the CRC also addressed the conflict of interests between children and their guardians ad litem in the context of children’s right to be heard (Article 12).

Apart from these cases, if you would like to propose another decision as the best UNTB Decision of 2023, you are invited to choose the “Other” option and write in your own choice.  

Vote here: https://poll.fm/13087424

List of Cases

  • Krikkerik v Russia (HRC)
  • Taylor et al v New Zealand (HRC)
  • Jallow v Denmark (CERD)
  • Anne Nourgam v Finland (CERD)
  • C.P. et al v France (CAT)
  • Alonzo et al v Philippines (CEDAW)
  • Bellini v Italy (CRPD)
  • Gashao Mangisto and Shaaban al-Sayed v. State of Palestine (CRPD)
  • Angélica María Berrospe Medina v Mexico (CED)
  • B.J. and P.J. v Czech Republic (CRC)