Here’s What Happened at the 37th UN Human Rights Council

Published on April 04, 2018

The 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council took place from February 26 to March 23rd 2018. Below you will find information on some of the key sexual rights related: Resolutions, Oral Statements, Side Events and Panels.

 

SRI Side Event Sexuality Education: Rights and Realities

Joint Statement on the Rights of the Child in Humanitarian Settings

The Sexual Rights Initiative joined the the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), Child Rights Connect (CRC), the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Plan International, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) in calling attention to the missed opportunities of the Rights of the Child resolution to affirm young women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights in humanitarian settings. Click here for the statement »

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights highlights sexual and reproductive rights defenders in his address to the Council

In his address to the Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, made special mention of sexual and reproductive rights.

“It takes real courage to stand up for women’s rights – including sexual and reproductive rights – in many parts of the world, in this 21st century. In countries across every region, women are suffering from increasingly regressive legislation, threats against activists and a renewed obsession with controlling their decisions. In the past year, a new movement for justice has risen up to combat the abuse and sexual exploitation of women: the MeToo movement, an expression of solidarity and a force for dignity that is much needed, including in the wealthiest societies. Wherever I have traveled I have been privileged to meet women who defy restrictions on their freedom. These resilient and powerful women teach us – have, indeed, taught me – that every individual can help to reshape society, and the world.” Click here for the statement »

 

Rights of the child: protection of the rights of the child in humanitarian situations A/HRC/37/L.33

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI), Child Rights Connect (CRC), the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Plan International, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) welcome the theme of the Human Rights Council resolution on the protection of the rights of the child in humanitarian situations.

The resolution addresses several issues of critical importance to children in humanitarian situations. It acknowledges the applicability of international human rights law in humanitarian situations, urges states to provide age-, disability- and gender-sensitive humanitarian assistance to children, including for refugee and displaced children, and urges states to meet the needs of children in these settings, including through the provision of sexual and reproductive health-care services. It also encourages states and all other relevant stakeholders to address the vulnerabilities of children, particularly girls, to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, various forms of exploitation and neglect, and harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage(CEFM), during emergencies and in post-disaster environments.

Given the recognition of these gross human rights violations within the resolution, we deeply regret that States’ obligations to uphold the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women, girls and adolescents and to respond to the consequences of sexual and gender-based violence, were not adequately reflected within the adopted text. Although they have been reaffirmed as key human rights by United Nations Treaty Monitoring Bodies (TMBs), by United Nations Special Rapporteurs (UNSRs), by several Human Rights Council (HRC) resolutions and by the Maputo Protocol and are reflected in most national laws and policies, States at the Human Rights Council continue to contest the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, girls and adolescents.

Young women and girls affected by conflict and humanitarian settings face increased risks of sexual violence and urgently need sexual and reproductive health care and services, such as obstetric and antenatal care for pregnant young women and girls, physical and mental health care, menstrual hygiene supplies, access to contraceptive information and services, including emergency contraception, and access to safe abortion and post-abortion care. Click here to continue reading >>
 

           ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

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The negative impact of corruption on the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment A/HRC/37/L.32

Chaired by Denmark, the resolution recognizes that corruption has a disproportionate impact on persons in vulnerable situations and persons belonging to marginalized groups, and may have an adverse impact on their access to justice, redress and compensation, including as victims of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The resolution stresses that States must take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent public officials, including law enforcement officials or other persons acting in an official capacity, from inflicting, instigating, consenting or acquiescing to any acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It underlines that one key aspect of prevention measures against corruption is to address the needs of those in vulnerable situations and persons belonging to marginalized groups, who may be the first persons negatively affected by corruption and may consequently be at greater risk of being subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It emphasizes that States are obligated to ensure that any person who alleges to have been subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to complain to the competent authorities, and that steps are taken to ensure that the complainant and witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of his or her complaint or any evidence given. It calls upon States to ensure accountability for acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and in this regard stresses that preventing and combating corruption are important in ensuring the ability of the competent national authorities to investigate promptly, effectively, independently and impartially all allegations of such acts.

NOTE: While not specifically mentioned in the text, this resolution may be of interest to those working on the gendered aspects of torture including with regards to denial of abortion, unregulated use of conscientious objection in relation to sexual and reproductive health services and impunity for violence committed on the basis of sexuality and gender.
 

             ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

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Adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to non- discrimination in this context A/HRC/37/L.12

Chaired by Brazil, Finland, Germany and Namibia and co-sponsored by more than 50 countries, the resolution recalls women’s equal property and inheritance rights and emphasizes the need to develop housing affordability strategies that take into account women’s economic conditions and status, including as a result of gender wage gaps. It expresses concern that inadequate housing, homelessness and forced eviction disproportionately affect women, children and persons with disabilities, and other persons who are marginalized and most vulnerable, each in different ways but with common structural causes, and that homelessness and tenure insecurity might result in discrimination, criminalization and further exclusion, particularly social and economic exclusion. The resolution further expresses concern that investment in housing has often become an exclusively financial instrument focused on high returns which disconnects it from its social function as a place to live in security and dignity.

The resolution calls upon States to take positive measures with a view to prevent and eliminate homelessness by adopting and implementing cross-sectoral strategies that are gender-, age- and disability-responsive, take measures necessary to curb factors which result in a lack of affordable housing, ensure an effective remedy and the right to access to justice for all violations of the right to housing, and ensure women’s equal right to adequate housing in all aspects of housing strategies by addressing women’s distinct housing experiences, including discrimination, violence against women and the disproportionate impact on women of forced evictions, inadequate water and sanitation services and pervasive poverty, and by undertaking legislative and other reforms to realize the equal rights to access economic and productive resources, including land and natural resources, and property and inheritance rights. The resolution also requests the Special Rapporteur to undertake thematic research with a view to advise States, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and other stakeholders on how to effectively respect, protect and fulfill the right to adequate housing, and non-discrimination in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the New Urban Agenda.
 

            ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

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The right to privacy in the digital age HRC/37/L10

Chaired by Austria, Brazil Mexico, Germany and Lichtenstein, the resolution and has been co-sponsored by 78 countries and aims to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to privacy for a period of 3 more years, under the same terms than the previous mandate. This relatively new mandate, in effect since the HRC Resolution 28/16 of March 2015, has been filled by Prof. Joseph Cannataci, and the resolution will effectively reconduct his mandate in office. The right to privacy is enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights and in the international covenant on civil on political rights. The right to privacy is directly linked to various aspects of our sexual and reproductive lives, online and offline.

Slovakia, on behalf of the European Union, stressed its support to the resolution and reiterated that the right to privacy is often a pre-requisite to the enjoyment of other rights offline and online. A crackdown on the right to privacy may hinder other rights such as the right to freedom of expression or freedom of association. The respect of this right can contribute to creating a conducive environment for the work of NGOs, human rights defenders, journalists. The recent report of the special rapporteur in this matter highlighted the rapid and fast pace of development of technology having an important significance and impact on the right to privacy. The resolution has been able to gather large support passing from a number of 61 co-sponsor when submitted to 78 co-sponsors by the time of voting.
 

            ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

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Mandate of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights A/HRC/37/L.23

Chaired by Cuba, the resolution recognizes the right of everyone to take part in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications. It recalls that no one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe upon human rights guaranteed by international law, nor to limit their scope, and recognizes that respect for the cultural diversity and cultural rights of all enhances inclusion and cultural pluralism, contributing to a wider exchange of knowledge and understanding of cultural heritage and background, advancing the application and enjoyment of human rights throughout the world and fostering stable, friendly relations among peoples and nations worldwide.

The resolution extends the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for three years and requests the Special Rapporteur to provide advice to relevant stakeholders on effective respect, protection and fulfillment of cultural rights in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
 

             ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

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Equality and non-discrimination of persons with disabilities and the right of persons with disabilities to access to justice A/HRC/37/L.35

Chaired by Mexico and New Zealand, the resolution reaffirms that all persons are equal before and under the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law. It expresses concern that girls and women of all ages with disabilities are subject to multiple, aggravated or intersecting forms of discrimination and that those forms of discrimination stem from harmful stigma and stereotypes based on gender and disability, and it bears in mind the risk of segregation, violence and abuse, including sexual violence and abuse, against women and girls with disabilities, including that occurring in their home, families, in institutions and carried out by support providers.

The resolution calls upon States to, inter alia: guarantee equal recognition before the law of persons with disabilities and ensuring that they have the opportunity to exercise their legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life; empower persons with disabilities with regard to their rights; ensure effective remedies and proper redress and reparation to victims of discrimination; improve or adopt legal and regulatory frameworks that identify those responsible for providing accommodation in all areas of the law, providing guidelines and protocols for their implementation; amend civil, criminal and procedural laws that prevent persons with disabilities from directly or indirectly participating in judicial or administrative processes on an equal basis with others, including those measures that grant third-party representation in law or in fact without free and informed consent or by denying legal standing; enable persons with disabilities in their role as witnesses, jurors, experts, judges, lawyers or other interlocutors within the justice system to exercise their right to participate in public and political life on an equal basis with others; provide training to judicial officers, lawyers and others, including forensic experts, prison staff and the police, on the human rights of persons with disabilities in order to overcome barriers in their effective access to justice on an equal basis with others.

The resolution further encourages States to integrate advancements with regards to the rights of persons with disabilities in laws, policies and practices in their reports to the High Level Political Forum on the 2030 Agenda. The next interactive debates on the rights of persons with disabilities will focus on rehabilitation (Article 26 of the Convention) at the 40th HRC session and on awareness raising (Article 8 of the Convention) at the 43rd HRC session. It also requests OHCHR to a thematic study on Article 26 and Article 8 of the Convention to coincide with the debates.
 

           ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

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Promotion and protection of human rights and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development A/HRC/37/L.37

Chaired by Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, Fiji, Luxembourg, Portugal, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and Uruguay, the resolution mandates two one-day intersessional meetings on human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to share good practices, achievements, challenges and lessons learned in the promotion and protection of human rights and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The focus of each of the meetings will reflect the themes of the 2019 and 2020 high level political forums on sustainable development. The resolution further requests the President of the Human Rights Council to appoint for each meeting a chairperson from candidates nominated by UN Member States who will be responsible for the preparation of summary reports of the discussions and which will be presented at the 40th and 43rd HRC sessions respectively.
 

            ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

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The need for an integrated approach to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for the full realization of human rights, focusing holistically on the means of implementation A/HRC/37/L.42

Chaired by Algeria, Cuba, Pakistan, and South Africa, the resolution invites the President of the Economic and Social Council to brief, on an annual basis, the Human Rights Council on the discussions of the high-level political forum, including on gaps, challenges and progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, focusing on the means of implementation taken together as an integrated package.
 

            ADOPTED BY CONSENSUS WITHOUT A VOTE

Click here to read the resolution

 

 

Most States in all regions of the world deliver some form of sexuality education as part of their education system. However, their implementation is often missing critical aspects related to gender equality, sexuality, human rights, relationship skills, and gender-based violence. During the event, panelists discussed new tools, guidelines and strategies to bridge these gaps and ensure policy is driven by evidence and human rights standards. Panelists also discussed successes and challenges related to developing and implementing curricula that effectively empower young people and adults.
 

Speakers
Karin Nilsson, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Avni Amin, Technical Officer, World Health Organization (WHO)
Makeda Zook, Health Promotion and Education Officer, Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights

Moderator
Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations (OHCHR)

Sponsors
Sexual Rights Initiative
Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the United Nations
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
CREA
Akahata
Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL)
Federation for Women and Family

 

 

Click here for more information on HRC37