10 The Working Group of the Human Rights Commission did not deal with the supervisory mechanism of the Convention in its sessions between 1978 and 1980. However, the written comments of several States, made in 1978, on the implementation provisions of the original Swedish draft Convention,10 shaped the subsequent discussions of the Working Group.11
11 The question of the nature and composition of the enforcement mechanism was discussed, for the first time, during the Working Group session in 1981.12 Several proposals were subject to the deliberations of the Working Group. The original Swedish draft suggested in its Articles 16 to 21 that the implementation monitoring of the Convention should be carried out by the HRC established by Article 28 CCPR.13 The proposal of the IAPL (in its articles XIII and XIV),14 also attributed the monitoring of the implementation of the CAT to the HRC, but, in addition, provided for the appointment of a Special Committee on the Prevention of Torture (Article 13). The latter would consist of five members of the HRC who were also nationals of the States parties to the CAT. Both proposals provided for the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention based primarily on mandatory State reporting as well as inter-State and individual complaints procedures.15
12 In 1980, Costa Rica submitted a draft Optional Protocol16 which provided for the establishment of an Independent International Committee as supervisory body authorized to arrange preventive visits to places of detention of all kinds under the jurisdiction of the States parties having ratified the OP.17
(p. 481) 13 Moreover, the Netherlands had submitted an amendment to the Swedish proposal modifying Article 16 and providing for the establishment of a new Committee that would be composed of members of the HRC, functioning as the supervisory body of the Convention.18 According to an additional Article, the procedures provided for in the CCPR and/or in the Protocol would apply between States parties to the Convention which were also parties to the CCPR and which had accepted the competence of the HRC under Article 41 and/or under the first OP to the CCPR, whereas otherwise the procedures provided for in the Convention would apply.
14 During this session, the Working Group also discussed a telegram by the Legal Counsel of the United Nations, explaining the legal difficulties that would be encountered if the monitoring mechanism of the Convention were the HRC.19 According to the Legal Counsel this proposal would constitute a modification of the terms of the CCPR. Moreover, the general concordance in purpose of Article 7 CCPR and the Convention would not be sufficient to give monitoring competence over the CAT to the HRC, since the latter must function in compliance with its constituent treaty.20
15 Several delegations who shared the opinion of the Legal Counsel concerning the potential difficulties involved stated that the parties to the Convention and the CCPR would not necessarily be the same.21
16 In general, some States (for example Argentina and Brazil) defended the option of self-enforcement, meaning that each State party would oversee its own implementation of the Convention.22 It was therefore suggested that international supervision should be optional. However, the opponents to this suggestion pointed out that self-enforcement would be unrealistic as evidenced by the fact that torture was still widely practised despite national and international legislation prohibiting the practice. In view of other delegations including the Soviet Union, the task of implementation could also be entrusted to the Human Rights Commission or to its Sub-Commission.23
17 Sweden submitted a second proposal which provided for the establishment of a new Committee acting as the only supervisory body of the Convention.24 According to this proposal ‘the members of the Committee shall be nationals of States Parties, serve in their personal capacity and shall as far as possible be chosen among members of the Human Rights Committee. Members shall be elected for a period of four years.’25
18 During the 1982 Working Group it was discussed whether the implementation procedures should have a mandatory or optional character. Some delegations expressed doubts regarding the advisability of establishing international bodies with extensive jurisdiction and stated that the implementation provisions should be made optional.26
(p. 482) 19 The continued deliberations regarding the nature and composition of the implementation organ were based on a new Swedish proposal with a complete set of eighteen alternative implementation provisions, mostly modelled according to the corresponding provisions of the CCPR27 and an alternative proposal of four draft articles and an explanatory note by the Chairman-Rapporteur.28 The latter suggested a supervisory body consisting of five members of the Human Rights Commission (nationals of the States parties) who were appointed by the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission (paragraph 2 of the Rapporteur’s draft article); this formula was borrowed from the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.29 The Swedish proposal provided for the establishment of a new Committee against Torture consisting of nine nationals of the States parties to be nominated and then elected by States parties.
20 In general, a number of delegations reacted to the Chairman’s proposal by stating that such a supervisory body would introduce strong political factors, which was undesirable since the Convention aims to prohibit torture by public officials.30 Furthermore, questions were raised regarding the criteria for selection.31 Thus, it was proposed that the members of the new supervisory body should be appointed by the Chairman of the HRC from the members of the latter Committee.32
21 Although some representatives of States parties expressed their concern regarding the multiplication of international organs, pointing out that a new body would create sizeable financial implications,33 a number of delegates stated their preference for the Swedish proposal. They pointed to its advantage of providing for independence of Committee members from governmental instructions or pressures since the members of the Committee would serve ‘in their personal capacity’.34 In the opinion of these delegations, the fact that the members of the Committee should ‘so far as possible’ also be members of the Committee would enhance harmonization between the implementation mechanism of the CCPR and the Convention and avoid the legal problems pointed out by the Legal Counsel of the United Nations.35
22 In 1982 the Working Group did not come to any consensus and continued its discussions regarding the nature and composition of the implementation organ during its session in 1983. The majority of delegations clearly preferred the implementation organ to be elected by States parties, as had been proposed by Sweden.36 However, since the Swedish proposal regarding the implementation provisions was drafted in considerable detail in twelve articles modelled according to the CCPR, the Chairman-Rapporteur submitted a draft with four simpler provisions on implementation taking into consideration the corresponding provisions in CERD and CEDAW.37 On the basis of this draft, the delegations discussed the size of the Committee. Some speakers stated that nine was too small as decisions may sometimes be taken by only three members since the quorum (p. 483) was set at five.38 Moreover, it would be difficult to reflect an equal geographical distribution with nine experts.39
23 The delegations were still unable to agree on whether the implementation system should have an optional or mandatory character. Some States continued to object to a mandatory character of the implementation provisions. In particular the Soviet Union, arguing that the inclusion of a mandatory implementation system in the Convention was not necessary for those States that were already bound by the implementation provisions of the CCPR, suggested an optional protocol containing the implementation procedures and said that this would facilitate worldwide support of the Convention.40 Other delegations were in favour of provisions with a mandatory character, stating that to make implementation optional was tantamount to allowing a qualified commitment to the fight against torture; moreover, it could lead to varying degrees of obligations on States parties. The delegation of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic suggested as a compromise, to retain the implementation provisions in the Convention but to introduce a clause which required that a State party recognize the competence of the Committee.41 No final decision was taken regarding the abovementioned issues.
24 During this Working Group session Article 17(6) and (7) of the Chairman’s proposal was also a topic of discussion. Some delegations criticized the modus of filling vacancies provided for in paragraph 6 which had been taken verbatim from the corresponding mechanisms of the anti-discrimination Conventions of 1965 and 1979.42 Ideally, vacancies should be filled using the same system as used for designating the original members, namely through election by States parties (eg articles 33 and 34 CCPR). Therefore, the Chairman-Rapporteur submitted another proposal for paragraph 643 which suggested that the appointment of a new member should be ‘subject to the approval of the majority of States Parties’.44
25 Regarding the proposal for paragraph 7, according to which States parties shall be responsible for the expenses ‘in the same proportion as their contributions to the general budget of the United Nations’, some delegations stated that States parties to the Convention may not necessarily be members of the United Nations. They therefore expressed their preference for the analogous provision of CERD, providing for the coverage of the expenses of the members for their Committee duties by States parties, such as submitted in proposal by the Chairman-Rapporteur.
26 During its fifth session in 1984, the Working Group finally adopted Article 17 CAT. The Soviet Union had informed the Group that it would no longer insist on the optional character of the provision concerning the creation of an implementation organ, and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic also took a similar stand and withdrew its respective draft Article 17.45 Furthermore, the Working Group had decided that the Committee should consist of ten instead of nine experts elected for four years. In this (p. 484) regard, the part of the second sentence of paragraph 5 stating that after the first election four members should be chosen by the Chairman to serve only for two years, was accordingly amended to ‘five’ members.46 Concerning all other paragraphs the Working Group agreed on the last submitted version.