8 Article 31(1) is taken almost literally from Article 21 CERD. Contrary to Article 58(1) ECHR and Article 78(1) ACHR, which stipulate that States parties may denounce the respective treaties only after the expiry of five years from the date on which they became parties, Article 21 CERD and Article 31 CAT do not contain any time limit. Consequently, States parties may denounce these treaties even immediately after having deposited the respective instruments of ratification or accession. Pursuant to Article 32(c), the Secretary-General, as depositary of UN treaties, shall inform all UN member States of any denunciations. Denunciations become effective one year after the date of receipt of the notification by the Secretary-General.
9 The first sentence of Article 31(2) has no equivalent in Article 21 CERD. It was, rather, added on the proposal of the United States with the aim of ensuring the continued observance of its obligations by a State party denouncing the Convention for the one-year period until the denunciation becomes effective under Article 31(1).11 Corresponding provisions can be found in Article 58(2) ECHR and Article 78(2) ACHR. Although this seems self-evident, these provisions emphasize, beyond any doubt, that all substantive and procedural State obligations apply fully until the date when the denunciation becomes effective. Consequently, any State party denouncing the Convention remains under an obligation during this one-year period to prevent torture and ill-treatment; to provide victims of torture with adequate reparation; to bring perpetrators of torture to justice; and to submit overdue reports under Article 19.
10 The interpretation of the second sentence of Article 31(2), which was also added by the US amendment and which roughly corresponds to Article 12(2) of the first OP to the CCPR, proves more difficult. During the drafting in the Working Group, some delegations expressed concern that this provision would complicate the procedure and entail the risk of investigations by the Committee after a denunciation becomes effective. Consequently, the United States proposed an additional provision in Article 31(3), which prevents the Committee from commencing consideration of any new matter after the one-year period.
11 Nevertheless, this additional provision does not solve most of the questions of interpretation. The combined reading of both sentences leads to the result that the Committee is free to start monitoring proceedings during this one-year period and to continue them thereafter until they are completed. However, it is not usually easy to decide when such proceedings must be considered complete. If an inter-State communication or an individual complaint is submitted during this period in accordance with Articles 21 or 22, the Committee can, of course, continue the consideration of the case until a final decision on inadmissibility or on the merits is reached.12 What, however, is the situation regarding the follow-up procedure as stipulated in Rule 120 of its RoP?13 The actions taken (p. 694) by the Rapporteur on follow-up must be considered as part of the ‘continued consideration of any matter’ arising from a decision on the merits. On the other hand, it cannot simply be at the discretion of the Rapporteur to decide when the procedure shall be terminated. Similarly, the Committee is prevented by Article 31(3) from adding new issues to a pending individual complaints procedure after the denunciation became effective.14
12 Similarly, the Committee may schedule during this one-year period a meeting with the State party concerned for the examination of a State report under Article 19. If the Committee, in its conclusions and recommendations, arrives at the conclusion that some of the obligations of that State party have not been discharged, it may appoint, pursuant to Rule 72 of its RoP, one or more Rapporteurs to follow up on the State party’s compliance with the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations.15 Again, this may be considered part of the State reporting procedure which may be continued after the one-year period. If the Government does not send a representative to a meeting scheduled for the consideration of its report, the Committee may also continue the consideration of this report by scheduling a meeting after the denunciation became effective.
13 Finally, the Committee may take the notification of a denunciation as an opportunity to initiate an ex officio inquiry procedure under Article 20, provided that it has received reliable information indicating a systematic practice of torture in the State party concerned. As the experience with past inquiries shows,16 such procedures can take several years and may lead to findings which are in need of a follow-up procedure as well.
14 These examples illustrate that the fears expressed by some delegations during the drafting of Article 31 were indeed justified. Any reasonable interpretation of paragraphs 2 and 3 must strike a fair balance between the legitimate concern of the Committee not to be prevented from finalizing pending procedures and the legitimate concern of the respective State party that this one-year period will not be misused by the Committee arbitrarily to initiate, continue, and perhaps delay certain proceedings as a reaction to its notification of denunciation.