The HRC28 Wrap-up provides information on some of the key sexual rights related resolutions, panels and presentations, statements, and parallel events that the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) was engaged with during the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council from the 2nd to the 27th of March 2015.
Sexual Rights-related Resolutions
Towards better investment in the rights of the child
Resolution (A/HRC/28/L.28) Towards better investment in the rights of the child was adopted on the 27th of March 2015 during the HRC annual panel on the rights of the child. The resolution was presented by the member States of the European Union (EU) and the Group of Latin America and Caribbean States (GRULAC).
During the course of the negotiations, most States showed flexibility. Exceptions include Egypt, which continuously asked for ‘education on human sexuality’ to be replaced with ‘sex education’, on behalf of a group of States that were not enumerated. And South Africa, which continued to reserve its position on the sections pertaining to budgeting, resource mobilisation and allocation (paragraphs 11-24) stating that these were too prescriptive.
The SRI worked closely with a number of States to advocate for retention of strong references to: access to sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education; application of a human rights-based perspective to integrating children’s rights in national laws and policies (paragraph 7); application of a gender perspective rather than a focus on girls in relation to boys (paragraph 41); marginalized and disadvantaged groups of children (paragraphs 10, 16(b) and 29); and participation of children and children’s groups in national processes and further work of the Council (paragraphs 14, 20, 21, 51 and 52).
By means of this resolution, the Council calls upon governments to ensure access of all people, including children, without discrimination, to a range of health services, including sexual and reproductive health care services (paragraph 28). It further calls upon States to provide comprehensive evidence-based education on human sexuality in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child (paragraph 30). Both of these provisions are within the context of calling upon governments to employ laws, policies, regulations and budget allocations to enable access to social services (paragraph 25).
The right to privacy in the digital age
Resolution (A/HRC/28/L.27) The right to privacy in the digital age brought forward by Austria, Brazil, Germany, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Norway, Switzerland was adopted without a vote and attracted the co-sponsorship of more than 50 countries from different regions. The resolution finally came to fruition following several activities held by States to give greater focus to this area of work including a side event at HRC24, an expert seminar in February 2014, an HRC panel at HRC27 and following two resolutions at the General Assembly (68/167 and 69/166).
Importantly, this resolution recognizes that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, and the right to the protection of the law against such interference. The resolution also noted that in many countries, persons and organizations engaged in promoting and defending human rights and fundamental freedoms frequently face threats and harassment and suffer insecurity, as well as unlawful or arbitrary interference with their right to privacy as a result of their activities even though these activities are crucial for the realization of the right to freedom of expression and to hold opinions without interference and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
In addition, the resolution called for the creation of a Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, whose term would last for three years. The duties of the Special Rapporteur would focus in particular on challenges arising from the digital age and new technologies, with a view to gathering information, studying trends, making recommendations, identifying possible obstacles and best practices, promoting principles, and importantly, reporting on violations. In addition, the Special Rapporteur will integrate a gender perspective throughout the work of the mandate.
Sexual Rights-related Panels & Discussions
Annual Discussion on Rights of the Child
In its resolution 25/6 on the rights of the child and access to justice for children, the Human Rights Council decided to focus its next full-day meeting on the theme,Towards better investment in the rights of the child, and invited the High Commissioner to prepare a report on that issue. The Council further requested the High Commissioner to circulate a summary report on the next full-day meeting on the rights of the child.
The SRI presented a statement to the panel, welcoming the report of the High Commissioner while emphasizing the importance of 6 investments critical to enabling the healthy development, the empowerment and the realization of the rights of the child: reviewing laws and policies; addressing prejudices, taboos and stigma; providing comprehensive sexuality education; providing available, accessible, acceptable and high quality sexual and reproductive health services; investing in the leadership and participation; and establishing and strengthening mechanisms to ensure accountability.
Annual Panel on Human Rights Mainstreaming
The panel was an opportunity for States and all other relevant actors to share their views, experiences and good practices with a view to strengthening international cooperation in the field of human rights with particular attention to the post-2015 development agenda and the right to development, developing a global partnership for development in the field of human rights, the promotion of dialogue and respect for cultural diversity, the protection of the human rights of women in light of the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, and enhancement of international cooperation in the field of universal periodic review and capacity building.
The Sexual Rights Initiative presented a statement to the panel, highlighting the importance of international cooperation and the need for an intersectional approach to human rights issues.
Annual Interactive Day on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities focused on article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on living independently and being included in the community. The OHCHR solicited contributions from Member States and stakeholders, inviting responses to a set of questions concerning existing legislation and policies enabling persons with disabilities to live independently and be included in the community.
Following presentations by the five panelists, the interactive debate continued with statements from the floor. Interventions were made by Turkey, Cuba, Maldives, Austria, New Zealand, Brazil, Uruguay, Australia, Albania, France, Belgium, Portugal, Croatia, South Africa, Russian Federation, Egypt, Montenegro, Israel,Algeria (on behalf of African Group), Ecuador (on behalf of CELAC), European Union, Bahrain (on behalf of Arab Group), Pakistan (on behalf of OIC), Germany, Paraguay, Greece, Ireland, Bahrain, Nicaragua, Togo, Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan (NHRI), Conseil National des Droits de l’Homme du Maroc (CDNH) (NHRI), Down Syndrome International (NGO), UNICEF, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik and the Sexual Rights Initiative.
The SRI statement urged States to begin efforts to make the paradigm shift from a medical and charity approach to a social and human rights-based approach, acknowledging that women with disabilities are autonomous sexual beings entitled to the realization of sexual and reproductive rights, and that they should be heard regarding their specific needs.
Full Day discussion on Human Rights and Climate Change
The full discussion identified the challenges and ways forward towards the realization of all human rights for all, including the right to development, in particular those in vulnerable situations. It also addressed measures and best practices for the promotion and protection of human rights that can be adopted by States in addressing the adverse effects of climate change on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights. A panel discussion was also held on how climate change has had an adverse impact on States’ efforts to progressively realize the right to food, and policies, lessons learned and good practices.
The SRI presented a statement to the panel, emphasizing that discussions on climate change and human rights must include discussion on protecting and fulfilling all human rights including sexual rights, and that integrating sexual and reproductive health and rights into climate change related policies, plans, strategies and programmes, is crucial in relation to both mitigation and response.
SRI Oral Statements
Outcomes from the 20th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) were reviewed during the 28th session of the HRC. The following fourteen countries were reviewed: Angola, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, San Marino and Slovenia.
SRI presented responses to four countries:
SRI also made statements on:
- Item 8 General Debate
- Item 3 General Debate
- Clustered Interactive Discussion with Special Rapporteur on Torture and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders
- Clustered Interactive Discussion with Special Rapporteur on Food and Special Rapporteur on Housing
- Annual Discussion on Rights of the Child
- Annual Panel on Human Rights Mainstreaming
- Annual Interactive Discussion on Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Full Day discussion on Human Rights and Climate Change
SRI Parallel Events
Sexual Rights: Mapping the Intersections
11 March 2015
The SRI panel addressed some of the issues under discussion at the 28th session, including disability, racial discrimination, and the rights of the child, and how they relate to sexual rights. The panel adopted the intersectional approach, which understands race, gender and sexuality as mutual constructs or articulations of one another rather than separate systems of oppression.
During the course of of the event, panelists identified violations to any human right (i.e. the right to education, health, work, housing, the rights of the child, of women, of people with disabilities) as having an impact on sexual rights. And that many instruments and mechanisms, national and international, nevertheless fail to use an intersectional approach when addressing any particular issue or right. These intersections are also sometimes forgotten altogether by civil society organizations working on single issues.
Intersections between race, gender and sexuality have been studied and addressed for more than 20 years and while this analysis and approach is generally accepted, gaps remain. Panelists suggested that such gaps can be found in policies, legislation, international instrument and mechanism (i.e. resolutions, reports of special reporters, the universal periodic review, among others). The Human Rights Council has a critical role to play in filling these gaps.