Here’s What Happened at HRC35!

Published on June 29, 2017

The 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council took place from the 6th to the 23rd of June 2017. The HRC35 Recap provides information on some of the key sexual rights related resolutions and oral statements. All of which the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) was engaged with during the session.

 

Elimination of discrimination against women and girls HRC/35/L29

Led by Colombia and Mexico and co-sponsored by over 50 countries. The resolution focused on the implementation of good and promising practices to eliminate discrimination against women.

Considerable language gains were made in regards to the right to bodily autonomy, naming of patriarchal norms, the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of gender (for the first time ever in a UN document in this context), the recognition that progressive laws alone are insufficient to bring about gender equality and that gender-bias environments impede the implementation of laws to eliminate discrimination against women, the existence of a democratic deficit due to barriers to women’s political participation, and the important role of feminists and women human rights defenders.

The resolution boldly calls upon States to:

repeal all laws that exclusively or disproportionately criminalize actions or behaviours of women and girls and laws that discriminate against them based on any grounds (including any custom, tradition or cultural or religious) contrary to the elimination of discrimination against women and girls;

implement comprehensive sexuality education;

promote, protect and fulfill the right of all women to have full control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health (free from discrimination, coercion and violence, including through the removal of legal barriers and the development and enforcement of policies, good practices and legal frameworks that respect the right to decide autonomously in matters regarding their own lives and health, including their bodies).

ORAL AMENDMENT by Egypt

Underscoring that international human rights treaties prohibit discrimination, inter alia, on the basis of gender sex and that national legislation should adhere to each State’s international obligations.

VOTE

FOR:  10
AGAINST:  24
ABSTAIN: 11
NOT IN ROOM: 2

AMENDMENT REJECTED

Click here to see voting by country »

 

AMENDMENT 1 HRC/35/L41 tabled by Belarus, Russian Federation

to pp 7
Expressing profound concern about the backlash against the progress made by civil society, including women’s community-based organizations, feminist groups, women engaged in promotion and protection of universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms human rights defenders, and girls` and youth-led organizations, to fulfill women`s human rights.

to pp 17
Recognizing the major contributions made by civil society , including women’s and community-based organizations, feminist groups, women human rights defenders engaged in promotion and protection of universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms and girls` and youth-led organizations, in the development of good practices that place the interests, needs and visions of women and girls on local, national, regional and international agendas, including the 2030 Agenda, and recognizing the importance of having open, inclusive and transparent engagement with civil society in the implementation of measures on the empowerment of women and girls.

to op 3 (c)
To consider reviewing all proposed and existing legislation on the basis of respective international obligations, with a gender-responsive perspective, involving when necessary, independent experts, women engaged in promotion and protection of universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms human rights defenders, women`s and girls` community based organizations, feminist groups and youth led organizations, and other relevant stakeholders.

to op5 (d)
To provide training on a rights-based gender analysis for duty holders in all spheres and meaningful collaboration with civil society, including women`s and community-based organizations, feminist groups, women engaged in promotion and protection of universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms human rights defenders, and girls and youth-led organizations.

VOTE

FOR: 14
AGAINST: 26
ABSTAIN: 6
NOT IN ROOM: 1

AMENDMENT REJECTED

Click here to see voting by country »

 

AMENDMENT 2 HRC/35/L42 tabled by Belarus, Russian Federation

to op 8 (c)
To consider adopting good practices to support substantive equality within families through long-term awareness-raising initiatives, especially education and public awareness, including though the media and online, incorporation of curricula on women`s rights into teacher training courses, including evidence-based, comprehensive sexuality education and gender-based violence prevention.

VOTE

FOR: 17
AGAINST:  25
ABSTAIN:  3
NOT IN ROOM:  2

AMENDMENT REJECTED

Click here to see voting by country »
 

         ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

____________________________________________________________

 

Accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women: engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against women and girls HRC/35/L.15

The resolution was led by Canada and co-sponsored by over 80 countries. It calls on States to engage men and boys to take responsibility and be held accountable for their actions in public and private spheres (including online) and to challenge gender stereotypes and negative social norms, behaviors and attitudes that are among the root causes of violence against women and girls. The resolution further calls upon States to ensure that resources for initiatives to engage men and boys do not compromise resources for women and girls and that the concerns, rights, safety, empowerment and equal and meaningful participation in all decision-making of women and girls are prioritized.

Critically, the resolution:

  • calls upon States to implement comprehensive sexuality education as a means to address harmful social norms and achieve gender equality,
  • calls upon States to develop and enforce policies and legal frameworks to strengthen health systems that make quality comprehensive sexual and reproductive health-care services, commodities, information and education universally accessible, and
  • reaffirms that human rights include the right to have control over all matters related sexuality.

Additionally, new agreed language was achieved on patriarchal norms, holding religious leaders (among others) accountable for not complying with and/or upholding laws and regulations relating to violence against women and girls, and recognizing that structural and institutional discrimination against women compounds violence experienced.

The resolution requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report before HRC38 to:

  • review promising practices and lessons learned, existing strategies and UN and other initiatives to engage men and boys in promoting and achieving gender equality, particularly efforts to challenge gender stereotypes and the negative social norms, attitudes and behaviours that underlie and perpetuate violence against women and girls and
  • make recommendations for further action by States and the international community in this regard.

 

AMENDMENT 1 HRC/35/L39 tabled by the Russian Federation

to op 8
Continues to express particular concern at the systemic and structural discrimination and violence faced by the women engaged in promotion and protection of universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms women human rights defenders of all ages, and calls upon States to full fill their obligations to prevent violations and abuses against all those engaged in promotion and protection of universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms human rights defenders, including though practical steps to prevent threats, harassment and violence, and to combat impunity by ensuring that those responsible for violations or abuses, including all types of gender-based violence and threats, committed by States or non-State actors, are promptly brought to justice though impartial investigations,

VOTE

FOR:  13
AGAINST:  25
ABSTAIN:  8
NOT IN ROOM:  1

AMENDMENT REJECTED

Click here to see voting by country »

AMENDMENT 2 HRC/35/L40 tabled by the Russian Federation

to op 9 (g)
Developing and implementing educational programmes and teaching materials, including comprehensive sexuality education, based on full and accurate information, for all adolescent and youth, in a manner consistent with their evolving capacities, with appropriate direction and guidance from parents and legal guardians, with the active involvement of all relevant stakeholders, in order to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women of all ages, to eliminate prejudices and to promote and build decision–making, communication and risk reduction skills for the development of respectful relationship based on gender equality and human rights, as well as teacher education and training programmes for both formal and non-formal education,

VOTE

FOR:  16
AGAINST:  25
ABSTAIN:  4
NOT IN ROOM:  1

AMENDMENT REJECTED

Click here to see voting by country »
 

          ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

____________________________________________________________

 

Child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian settings HRC/35/L26

Led by the Netherlands and Sierra Leone with other members of the core group, Argentina, Canada, Ethiopia, Honduras, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Switzerland, the UK, Uruguay and Zambia.

The resolution highlighted gender equality as the root cause of child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) while recognizing that CEFM constitutes a serious threat to the full realization of the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health of women and girls (including but not limited to their sexual and reproductive health) and that CEFM significantly increases the risk of early, frequent and unwanted pregnancy, maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity, obstetric fistula, and sexually transmitted infections (including HIV and AIDS) as well as increases vulnerability to all forms of violence. }

It also calls upon States and others to develop and implement holistic, comprehensive and coordinated responses, strategies and policies to prevent, respond to and eliminate CEFM (including in humanitarian settings) and to support already married girls, adolescents and women (including through the strengthening of child protection systems, protection mechanisms, such as safe shelters, access to justice and legal remedies and the sharing of best practices across borders in full compliance with international human rights obligations and commitments).

The resolution ​takes note of the work of the World Health Organization High-level Working Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents, and noted with concern that the incidence and risk of CEFM is highly exacerbated in humanitarian settings due to a number of factors, including insecurity, gender inequality, increased risks of sexual and gender based violence, breakdown of rule of law and state authority, and the misconception that marriage provides protection, the stigma of pregnancy outside of marriage, absence of family planning services, a disruption of social networks and routines, increased poverty, and the absence of livelihood opportunities.

The resolution requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to create a web portal to bring together and collate information relating to CEFM (including in humanitarian settings) for the High Commissioner to provide a written report with input from all relevant stakeholders on CEFM with a focus on humanitarian settings to the HRC41 (June 2019) and to provide an oral update in this regard to HRC38 (June 2018).
 

           ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

____________________________________________________________

 

The right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development HRC/35/L18 Rev.1

Led by Brazil, Mozambique, Paraguay, Portugal and Thailand.

The Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health’s report on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development could only be noted, rather than welcomed, due to the interventions of conservative States.

The resolution is generally weak but welcomes the Sustainable Development Goals (including, inter alia, Goal 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) and its specific and interlinked targets as well as other health-related goals and targets. It also welcomes the inclusion of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls as a stand-alone goal, and its integration into all goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda and throughout the implementation process. The resolution mentions various Sustainable Development Goal targets (including 3.7 and 5.6) as well as the concern that approximately 54% of persons living with HIV are in need of treatment, many of whom do not know their HIV status. Concern was noted that for millions of people throughout the world, especially for women and girls, the full enjoyment of the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health remains a distant goal.

The resolution requests the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report based on consultations with all relevant stakeholders (including relevant United Nations bodies, agencies, funds and programmes, treaty bodies, special procedure mandate holders, national human rights institutions and civil society) that focuses on identifying best practices, challenges and obstacles to the right to health framework to the effective implementation and achievement of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals. This report will be presented to HRC38.
 

           ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

____________________________________________________________

 

Protection of the family: role of the family in supporting the protection and promotion of human rights of older persons HRC/35/21

Led by Egypt (on behalf of the OIC), Bangladesh, Belarus, China, Cote d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. This year, the resolution focused on supporting the protection and promotion of the human rights of older persons.

As in previous years, this resolution was seen as highly contentious due to the core groups refusal to inter alia accept language supporting the individual rights of family members.

 

AMENDMENT 1 A/HRC/35/L45 tabled by Malta

to pp 1
Recognize that, in different cultural, political and social systems, various forms of the family exist.

VOTE

FOR:  19
AGAINST:  22
ABSTAIN:  5
NOT IN ROOM;:  1

AMENDMENT REJECTED

*This amendment was defeated by a narrower vote than in previous years.

 

AMENDMENT 2 A/HRC/35/L47 tabled by Switzerland on behalf Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the UK.

To change the title of the resolution to read Protection of the family: the role of families in supporting the protection and promotion of human rights of older persons.

 

AMENDMENT 3 A/HRC/35/L48 tabled by main sponsor Switzerland

to op 29
to include reference to ‘families’ rather than ‘the family.’

VOTE

FOR:  17
AGAINST:  23
ABSTAIN:  6
NOT IN ROOM:  1

AMENDMENTS REJECTED

*Both amendments (L47 and L48) were rejected by the same vote.

 

AMENDMENT 4 A/HRC/35/L49 tabled by Switzerland

Not voted on as the core group decided to incorporate the language into the text prior to a vote.

The amended language means the paragraph now reads as: “Recognizes further that older women face greater risk of physical and psychological abuse due to discriminatory societal attitudes and the non-realization of their human rights and that some harmful traditional and customary practices result in abuse and violence directed at older women, often exacerbated by poverty and lack of access to legal protection” and is based on Para 108 of the Madrid Plan of Action.
 

RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY VOTE: 30 FOR/12 AGAINST/5 ABSTENTIONS

  Click here to read our joint statement

____________________________________________________________

 

Youth and Human Rights HRC/35/L22
Led by Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Philippines, Portugal, the Republic of Moldova and Tunisia. The resolution underlines “the important role that youth can play in the promotion of peace, sustainable development and human rights, and the importance of the active and wide participation of youth in decision-making.”The resolution calls on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a detailed study on the implementation of human rights with regard to young people, identification of cases of discrimination against young people in the exercise of their human rights, and best practices on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights by young people, highlighting the contribution of empowered youth to the realization of human rights in society, and for it to be submitted to the Council prior to HRC39 (September 2018).
 

         ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

____________________________________________________________

 

Realizing the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl HRC/35/L35

Led by the United Arab Emirates. The resolution highlighted Sustainable Development Goal 4 on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and the need to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, underlining the commitment therein to eliminate gender disparities in education, and Goal 5 on achieving gender equality, and empowering all women and girls.

The resolution also highlights deep concern that humanitarian crises and armed conflicts are depriving children of access to education, especially girls, who are two and a half times more likely to be out of school than boys in these settings. It recognized that gender stereotypes about the role of women and girls underpin the obstacles to girls’ equal enjoyment of quality education and that stereotypes are also perpetuated in school curricula and materials.

The resolution calls on States to:

  • review, repeal and eliminate (as appropriate) laws, policies and practices that can negatively affect the right to education of every girl (including discriminatory laws, policies, practices, customs, traditions or religious considerations, financial barriers, violence, including sexual violence in the school environment, the worst forms of child labour, and harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation, gender stereotypes, child, early and forced marriage and early pregnancy),
  • eliminate gender stereotypes from all educational processes, practices and teaching materials and
  • provide adequate access to water and safe, separate and quality sanitation facilities in schools and promote appropriate hygiene behaviour, since school water supply and sanitation are essential elements of basic education.

 

           ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

____________________________________________________________

 

HR35 - Oral Statements

 

Visit the SRI website for complete transcripts

 

The SRI made statements on:

 

Web National Sexual Rights Dabatase

 

The National Sexual Rights Law and Policy Database documents and compares the status of law and policy related to sexual rights issues in different countries around the world.

 

Click here to access the database

 

 

 

SRI Toolkit web

 

 

Read the SRI & IPPF

UPR Toolkit for Sexual Rights Advocates

Available in
English, French, Portuguese, Spanish & Arabic.

 

 

 

 

more info about the HRC

Created in 2006 to replace the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Council is the foremost international body for the promotion and protection of human rights and can be used to bring substantial pressure on governments to take steps to implement human rights norms. The Human Rights Council is comprised of governments of countries that are members of the United Nations and is an important venue to develop and advance sexual rights as a critical part of the international human rights framework. Click here for more information on HRC35