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UN: International Covenant on Enforced Disappearance

Volume 689: debated on Tuesday 20 February 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they expect to sign the International Covenant for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; whether they have any reservations about the covenant; and, if so, whether they will explain them. [HL2022]

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance was adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly in December 2006. It opened for signature and subsequent ratification on 6 February 2007.

The convention will be an important tool in preventing enforced disappearance in the future. The UK was active throughout the negotiations to draft the convention, and we supported its adoption last year at both the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly.

The Government now need to conduct a detailed analysis of the provisions of the treaty and their implications for implementation in order to determine the UK's position towards ratification, including whether we would need to make any reservations. The UK did not sign the convention at the ceremony in Paris on 6 February because the UK does not sign international treaties unless it has a firm intention to ratify within a reasonable time-frame. We understand that 57 states (including 10 member states of the European Union) have so far signed the convention. The convention requires 20 states to ratify in order to enter into force.

At the adoption of the convention at both the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, the UK made an interpretative statement clarifying our understanding of certain provisions, including what constitutes an enforced disappearance, the application of obligations under international humanitarian law and the procedures applicable to the adoption and placement of children found to have resulted from an enforced disappearance. This statement can be found at: www.fco.gov.uk/ukmisgeneva.