The new High Commissioner has the opportunity to grasp the torch lit by his predecessors and fully embrace and defend an uncompromising stance for women’s equality - and his legacy will be judged on his commitment to doing so.
Eight WLUML networkers from Sudan, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria headed to Geneva this month to take part in the two-week Human Rights Defenders Advocacy Programme hosted by the International Service for Human Rights. Under the Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation (WELDD) programme, WLUML sent their networkers to join 12 other participants from around the world working on diverse issues such as indigenous and environmental rights, corporate responsibility, and LGBTI rights.
Jennifer Allsopp: Yakin, you were invited to Oxford to deliver the annual Barbara Harrell-Bond lecture at the Refugee Studies Centre. You stressed in your talk, and have repeatedly argued elsewhere, that violence against women is a human rights issue. Could you say something more about the relationship between violence against women and human rights?
On 22 January 2014, the United Nations (UN)-backed Geneva II peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition are scheduled to be held with the goal of ending the Syrian conflict and creating a transitional government. However, nearly 14 years after the landmark passage of UN Security Council resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) calling on UN member states to “increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts,” no women have been included in the Syrian peace negotiations.
Follow-up activities aim at ensuring that recommendations and decisions by human rights mechanisms and bodies are implemented so as to
improve respect, protection and fulfilment of all human rights for all. UN human rights mechanisms and bodies seek to improve the
realization of human rights in all countries of the world. Resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council, the findings of Commissions of
Inquiry, recommendations of treaty bodies, special procedures and the universal periodic review, and decisions of treaty bodies on individual
cases all aim at closing protection gaps and indicate ways for States and other stakeholders to advance towards the full realization of human
rights. All these findings, recommendations and decisions aim at producing a change for the better in the lives of rights-holders. The primary obligation to realize such change lies with States, which bear the duty to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. However, all parts of society, from individuals to the private sector, the international community and CSAs have a role to play in the realization of human rights. Civil society, in particular, can play a crucial role in following up on human rights recommendations.
It is commonly assumed that Muslim women are frustrated in their pursuit of property rights because those rights are limited under the Islamic legal system, they lack agency in the face of oppressive family and social structures and have an absence of conviction in their articulation of gender rights.
As we speak, a resolution is being negotiated at the General Assembly in New York on the protection of women human rights defenders (WHRDs). This is the first time women defenders have been the focus of a draft resolution at the United Nations. Such an initiative is the result of activists’ work over many years raising awareness about the challenges, risks and attacks faced by women human rights defenders and their specific protection needs. The resolution would provide much needed recognition of WHRDs and their work, and would be an important tool in urging States to create enabling environments in which WHRDs can carry out their activities, free from intimidation, threats or attacks.