UN related

There is less than a week before the draft resolution will come up for adoption. 

The following States have co-sponsored the resolution so far:
Armenia, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, EU, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Jordan, Lebanon, Vanuatu, Bosnia Herzegovina, Albania, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, USA,  New Zealand.

But push back continues on several aspects of the text, including:  

  • the inclusion of references to gender
  • explicit reference to WHRDs working to promote sexual and reproductive health, reproductive rights and matters related to sexuality
  • several States  are pushing for the inclusion of more references to the 'responsibilities' of human rights defenders.

Over 70 African civil society organisations have signed an open letter to the Africa Group urging them to support all aspects of the resolution

We need to keep urging States to support the resolution! 

Objet : PROJET DE RÉSOLUTION SUR LA PROTECTION DES FEMMES DEFENSEURS DES DROITS DE L'HOMME

Nous vous écrivons en tant qu’un groupe de défenseurs des droits de l'homme Africains et des organisations de la société civile travaillant un peu partout sur le continent  tant aux  niveaux national, régional et international. Nous suivons avec un grand intérêt les négociations sur le projet de résolution sur la protection des femmes défenseurs des droits humains actuellement en discussion d au sein du  Troisième Comité de l'Assemblée générale des Nations Unies. C'est la première fois qu'un projet de résolution qui traite exclusivement de ​​la protection des femmes défenseurs des droits de l'homme est discuté au sein de ce comité. Ce projet représente une initiative extrêmement importante et significative pour les sociétés africaines.

Les femmes qui s'engagent dans la défense de tous les droits de l'homme et tous ceux qui défendent les droits des femmes et travaillent sur les questions liées à l'égalité des sexes apportent une contribution essentielle aux processus démocratiques, à la construction de la paix et au maintien de la sécurité, du développement et le respect des droits de l'homme dans nos communautés. Cependant, dans ce travail, les femmes défenseurs des droits humains peuvent faire face à une série de violations et d'abus - y compris les violences fondées sur le sexe – de la part des acteurs étatiques et non étatiques. Les États doivent porter une attention  particulière aux risques encourus par les femmes défenseurs des droits de l'homme, reconnaître la valeur de leur rôle, et s'engager à assurer leur protection. C'est le moment pour tous les États de faire preuve de leadership en soutenant une résolution qui vise à reconnaître ce rôle au plan mondial.

RE: DRAFT RESOLUTION ON PROTECTING WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

We write to you as a group of African human rights defenders and civil society organizations located across the continent working at national, regional and international levels. We are following negotiations on the draft resolution on the protection of women human rights defenders currently being advanced in the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, with great interest.  This is the first time a draft resolution has been put forward focusing exclusively on the protection of women human rights defenders.   It is a hugely significant and important initiative for African societies. 

Women who engage in the defence of all human rights and all those who defend the rights of women and work on issues related to gender equality make a vital contribution to democratic processes, securing and maintaining peace, and ensuring security, development and respect for human rights in our communities.   However, in doing this work, women human rights defenders can face a range of violations and abuses – including gender-based violence – at the hands of State and non-State actors.   States need to pay attention to the risks faced by women human rights defenders, acknowledge the value of their role, and commit to ensuring their protection. This is the time for all States to show leadership by supporting a resolution that seeks to do this globally. 

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.

Governments should support an important international resolution on the situation and protection of women human rights defenders, the International Service for Human Rights said today.

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.

Introduction
 
1. Many countries are witnessing a significantly disproportionate rate of increase of women being incarcerated, compared to their male counterparts. Globally, women and girls constitute a minority of the prison population as a whole, and it is estimated that they represent between 2 and 9 per cent of the total population. Throughout the world, women prisoners face similar human rights violations 
relating to the causes that led to their imprisonment, the conditions they face in prison and the consequences of their incarceration.

File 2047

29 October 2013 – Harmful practices inflicted on women and girls can never be justified in the name of freedom of religion or belief, an independent United Nations human rights expert told a General Assembly committee dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues today.

“Countless women are exposed to complex forms of human rights violations based on both religion or belief and their sex,” said Heiner Bielefeldt, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

The expert’s latest report, which he presented to the Third Committee, focused on two human rights, namely freedom of religion or belief and gender equality. “My main message is that there is much more room for synergies between those two rights than people generally assume,” he told reporters after his presentation.

“Often you find the assumption that, you go either for religion or for gender emancipation and you can’t really combine the two, which I would find not only wrong but dangerous.”

III. Analysis and Conclusions

83. Several respondents found that some traditional values were closely related to human dignity and human rights, provided the basis and background of universal rights, and supported their promotion and protection. Examples were provided as best practices in the application of traditional values while promoting and protecting human rights and upholding human dignity by both States and other stakeholders.

84. Some respondents were of the view that traditional values could be invoked to justify the status quo and undermine the rights of the most marginalized and disadvantaged groups. They noted that traditional values were at times misused to justify human rights violations especially with regard to freedom of belief, women’s rights, sexual orientation and gender identity. It was underlined by many that traditional values could never be used to justify violations of universal human rights or as a basis for discrimination in any form.

18 October 2013 – The United Nations Security Council and senior UN officials today issued a strong call on the international community to strengthen its commitment to ensuring that women play a more prominent role in conflict prevention, resolution and in post-war peacebuilding.

Unanimously adopting a new resolution this morning, the Security Council reaffirmed that sustainable peace hinges on an approach that integrates “political, security, development, and human rights, including gender equality,” concerns and urged Member States and UN entities to ensure women’s full and meaningful participation in peace and security issues, and committed to increase focus on their adequate access to justice in conflict and post-conflict settings.

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