The UN Human Rights System comprises of nine treaties focusing on all types of human rights. The system was born out of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which set out for the first time on a global scale the fundamental human rights that were to be universally protected. These rights include among others: the right to life, the right to non-discrimination, the right to vote, the right to freedom of expression and religion, the right to a family, the right to privacy, the right to health and education, and the right to a decent standard of living. Despite this, the rights contained within the Universal Declaration are not legally binding on States. In 1966, the UN therefore adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) as legally binding treaties encompassing the rights contained within the Universal Declaration. Together, the Universal Declaration and the ICCPR and ICESCR form what is called the International Bill of Human Rights. The International Bill of Human Rights is the cornerstone of a series of internationally binding human rights treaties covering a variety of different rights.

The core international human rights treaties cover:

When a State ratifies one of these treaties, it becomes legally obliged to implement through its internal legal mechanisms the rights and obligations contained therein, as well as to participate in the process of monitoring and implementing the treaty.

Each treaty is overseen by a committee composed of independent experts with recognized human rights standing. The independent experts are appointed and elected for fixed periods of 4 years, which can be renewed. States are obliged to report to treaty bodies every two, four or five years, depending on the treaty body and treaty body.

The 10 main treaty bodies are:

Each treaty body is responsible for receiving and reviewing the periodic reports of States Parties on the measures taken to implement the rights contained in the treaty and thus providing States with general comments and recommendations on how to improve treaty implementation.

Non-governmental organizations and civil society actors also have the opportunity to contribute to the reporting process and provide information on the situation in the country regarding the implementation and protection of rights within the treaty. They can do this in two ways: parallel reporting or shadow reports or participating in the state reporting process.

At the level of the United Nations, Angola has ratified five of the main treaties[1] and is in the process of ratifying the remaining four.[2] In 2019, Angola reported to the ICCPR and CEDAW. Both reviews took place in February and March, and the concluding observations from both the CEDAW committee[3] and Human Rights Committee have now been published.

The Human Rights Committee’s second review of Angola took place on the 7th and 8th of March 2019, with the concluding observations issued on the 28th March. The concluding observations highlighted the progress that Angola has made in promoting and protecting civil and political rights over the past four years. Notable achievements include:

  • Approval of a new Penal Code in 2019 which criminalised acts of discrimination based on sexual orientation
  • Regulation of the employment quota for people with disabilities
  • Approval of a new strategic plan on the prevention and combatting of corruption (2018)
  • Approval of a national policy for gender equality and equity (2013)
  • Approval of an executive plan to combat domestic violence (2013)

The committee’s main concerns included the continued existence of widespread corruption; reports of excessive use of force used by law enforcement officers, notably in cases of peaceful demonstrations and against asylum seekers and refugees; overcrowding and harsh detention conditions; reports of mass expulsions of migrants and asylum seekers; the persistence of traditional stereotypes regarding men and women in family and society which have an adverse impact on women’s enjoyment of civil and political rights. The Committee issued recommendations on each area of concern, focussing on the promotion and protection of all civil and political rights contained within the Covenant, in law and in practice, and an increase in inclusive and targeted awareness activities on all rights.

Angola’s next periodic report is due by the 29th March 2023.

To read the full report from the Committee, please follow the link[4]:

https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/AGO/CCPR_C_AGO_CO_2_34487_E.pdf

 

[1] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention on the Elimination of a forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

[2] Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Convention on the Elimination of al forms of Racial Discrimination, Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

[3] To read a summary of the CEDAW committee’s concluding observations, please see here: https://direitoshumanosangola.org/angola-cedaw-review/

[4] Currently only available in English. The link will be updated when a version in Portuguese or Spanish is made available.