First meet and greet with UN treaty body candidates

Friday, October 9, 2020

For the first time, the candidates to a UN treaty body – the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture (SPT) presented their vision and priorities for torture prevention in a virtual dialogue with State Parties, which was jointly organised by the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The SPT is an operational body composed of 25 independent experts elected by State Parties to Optional Protocol to the Convention against torture. Elections take place every two years to renew half of the seats. SPT’s mandate is to visit places of detention in the States and to advise States and National Preventive Mechanisms (NPM) on torture prevention.

“This is a new era of the treaty body system. This meet and greet session is innovative and focuses on the candidates, their integrity, independence and expertise,” said Ibrahim Salama, Chief, Human Rights Treaties Branch, OHCHR.. “Twelve members will be elected through a transparent election process that should be a competition based on their merit and capacities,” he said.

“The SPT is an essential component of the OPCAT system. The SPT stands up for torture prevention in cooperation with States, constant contact with NPMs , and a triangular dialogue,” stated Barbara Bernath, Secretary-General at the APT. “Gender balance and regional balance must be represented in the SPT,” she added. 

With over 90 participants, the Meet and Greet online discussion, gathered 18 out of the 20 nominated candidates. After a first round of presentations, eight OPCAT State Parties –asked questions to the candidates on following issues:

How to strengthen coordination and cooperation between the SPT, other UN treaty bodies and regional anti-torture bodies;  including on intersectionality of root causes of discrimination and other violations of human rights; how to protect those most vulnerable in times of COVID-19; the impact of the pandemic on the work of the SPT and how it can implement its mandate and adapt its working methods; the distinctive mandate and needs of the SPT to the other UN Treaty Body, which requires adequate support and resources.

This public event offered a platform to get to know about SPT candidates, their experience and vision. It aimed to assist States Parties in the elections process, which will take place on 22 October 2020.

Meet & Greet

For more information on individual candidates, check out our interactive guide with all the candidates to the SPT.