The Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) is a coalition of organizations from all regions of the world with an office in Geneva that has been advocating for the advancement of human rights in relation to gender and sexuality at the UN Human Rights Council since 2006
The SRI aims to advance sexual rights as a particular set of rights and as a crosscutting issue within international law, specifically in the work of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The SRI combines feminist analysis and developments in women’s human rights and sexual and reproductive rights with important advances in the recognition of human rights of all marginalized communities and young people. The SRI seeks to give visibility to violations committed on the basis of sexuality and gender expression or identities.
In order to advance the dialogue and advocacy on sexual rights, we endeavour to bring together perspectives that in the past have co-existed but have not collaborated on sexual rights. The SRI is well-placed to carry out this work because it is the only group of advocates consistently present at the Human Rights Council seeking to advance a broad range of sexual rights. As NGO participation at the Human Rights Council remains largely dominated by organizations based in the Global North, the SRI seeks to provide a more global perspective based on the experiences of SRI partner organizations.
The SRI further aims to create a political space for advocacy on sexual rights by adopting a feminist approach, bridging Southern, Northern and Eastern perspectives and incorporating diverse views. We acknowledge that different kinds of power exist and are at play in all our interactions and strive to provide all partners with equal and genuine opportunities for decision-making, engagement and visibility.
What We Do
The SRI works in partnership with local, national and regional organizations and networks of sexual and reproductive health and rights activists to advocate for the inclusion of sexual rights dimensions in:
- Human Rights Council resolutions, debates, panels and side-events
- Special Procedures
- Studies and reports prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Treaty monitoring bodies
- Universal Periodic Review
The SRI is committed to the right of every person to sexual and reproductive health and well-being, bodily integrity, as well as the right to have control over and to make free and informed decisions on all matters related to sexuality, reproduction and gender, free from violence and discrimination.
The SRI regularly engages on a wide variety of sexual rights issues, particularly during the Universal Periodic Review, including:
- Comprehensive rights-based sexuality education
- Criminalization and other restrictions on safe abortion
- Discrimination based on sexual orientation
- Early and forced marriage
- Empowerment of women and girls
- HIV/AIDS and human rights
- Maternal mortality & morbidity
- Rights of sex workers
- Rights of transgender and third gender persons
- Sexual rights of young people
- Universal access to sexual and reproductive health information, education, supplies and services
- Violence based on the exercise of one’s sexuality including sex outside of marriage
Examples of our Achievements
- Collaborated with over 100 local and regional activists to consistently raise sexual rights at the Human Rights Council;
- Integrally involved in the Human Rights Council’s decision to take up the issue of maternal mortality, which recognizes maternal mortality and morbidity as a human rights matter;
- Over the 4 years of the first Universal Periodic Review cycle, the SRI submitted nearly 70 reports, all of them in association with local/national organizations or activists, and addressing a wide variety of sexual rights issues;
- Ensured that within the resolution on human rights and HIV, regressive language on criminalization of HIV transmission was removed, language on reproductive rights was added to the adopted text, references to the International Guidelines on Human Rights and HIV/AIDS remained, and language on most-at-risk populations was strengthened;
- Successfully advocated within the resolution on prevention of violence against women for inclusion of provisions related to: the duty or states to adopt legislative and policy measures to ensure full realization of women’s right to control all matters concerning their own sexuality; harmful customs, attitudes and practices; and the criminalization of all forms of rape, and the empowerment of women and girls to protect themselves from HIV infection;
- Worked to ensure that the Human Rights Council explicitly included sexual and reproductive health within in the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health;
- In the Human Rights Council’s institution building phase, played a vital role to ensure governments paid attention to thematic protection gaps in the system of special procedures.
Trainings and Seminars
We offer a range of trainings and seminars to State officials, UN representatives and NGOs.