Did you miss it? Here’s what happened at HRC 49!
The 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council took place from 28 February to 1 April. Below you will find information on some of the key sexual rights-related
- Panel discussions
- Oral statements
- Side Event: Taking Stock of Comprehensive Sexuality Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic
SRI and event co-organizers hosted a conversation with a range of actors committed to ensuring access to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), to explore the significance of CSE; the impact COVID-19 pandemic has had on CSE and related SRHR; and share strategies moving forward.
The side event highlighted challenges, lessons learnt and promising practices on implementation of CSE, from the perspective of the Civil Society, UN Human Rights Mechanism, Government and UN agency.
Watch the recording of the event, and read more below in the SRI Side Events section.
Resolution on the rights of persons with disabilities
Participation of persons with disabilities in sport, and statistics and data collection
Led by New Zealand and Mexico, and co-sponsored by 44 other countries as of 1 April 2022, the resolution was adopted by consensus.
The resolution focuses on participation of persons with disabilities in sport, and statistics and data collection, following two reports issued by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) on these topics. The resolution also requests OHCHR to prepare a study on support systems to ensure community inclusion of persons with disabilities, including as a means of building forward better after the COVID-19 pandemic (to be presented to the Council at its 52nd session in March 2023) and decides to hold the annual debate on the rights of persons with disabilities on this topic during the same session. It also requests OHCHR to prepare a study on good practices of support systems enabling community inclusion of persons with disabilities (to be presented to the Council at its 55th session in March 2024), which will also be the theme of the Council’s annual debate on the rights of persons with disabilities at the same session. In addition, the resolution requests an oral report from the High Commissioner on the implementation of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy at the 53rd and 56th sessions of the Council (June 2023 and June 2024).
The resolution expresses concern about the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on persons with disabilities and the impacts of climate change on women and girls with disabilities. It calls for a gender perspective and disability-inclusive measures to address multiple, aggravated and intersecting forms of discrimination, including ableism and ageism. In the context of sport, the resolution expresses concern about the multiple, aggravated and intersecting forms of stigma and discrimination, the exclusion and sexual and gender-based violence faced by women and girls with disabilities.
The Russian Federation had initially tabled 8 amendments to this resolution, which sought to remove mentions of “gender-responsive” measures; to add paragraphs regretting the deprivation of athletes with disabilities of participation in sports events and calling for conciliative and unifying sport events without discrimination; to replace “gender” by “sex” in the context of data collection; to qualify the participation of children with disabilities in decision-making with the “appropriate guidance” of parents or legal guardians; to add “care” after “health” among the contexts in which misuse of big data can lead to human rights violations; and to restrict the scope of a paragraph regarding the human rights benefits of encryption and anonymity to persons with disabilities rather than individuals more generally. All amendments were withdrawn following oral revisions to the text accommodating most of the changes sought.
Resolution on promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights within the context of addressing inequalities in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
Led by China, Bolivia, Egypt, Pakistan and South Africa and co-sponsored by 66 other countries as of 1 April 2022, the resolution was adopted by vote, with 31 votes in favor, 14 votes against, and 2 abstentions.
The resolution calls for a three-day workshop before the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council (March 2023) to discuss “practical ways to further enhance and strengthen work of the Human Rights Council and the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in promoting and protecting economic, social, and cultural rights within the context of addressing inequalities in recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, including through focused advocacy on easing economic burdens, vaccine equity, removal of structural impediments and development of technical assistance programmes aimed at enhancing the capacity building of States, especially developing and least-developed States,” to be facilitated by an expert appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council in consultation with regional groups. Following the workshop, the resolution requests the High Commissioner to present to the 54th session of the Council (September 2023) a report on OHCHR’s vision for reinforcing its work in this area, followed by an interactive dialogue on the topic.
The resolution expresses concerns about the wide-ranging human rights impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including on women and girls, and its exacerbation of existing inequalities both within and among States. It calls for scaling up international cooperation to support states disproportionately bearing the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, for enhanced international solidarity, and for gender-sensitive COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, including timely, equitable and unhindered access to safe, affordable, effective and quality medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.Importantly, the resolution encourages international financial institutions to refrain from imposing austerity policies and programmes that may impede enjoyment and realization of economic, social and cultural rights
One amendment was tabled by France on behalf of the European Union, seeking to remove the request that the OHCHR report based on the workshop be prepared in consultation with the expert appointed by the HRC President to chair the workshop. The amendment was then withdrawn following oral revisions integrating that change in the text.
Resolution on access to COVID-19 vaccines
Ensuring equitable, affordable, timely and universal access for all countries to vaccines in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic
Led by Azerbaijan (on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries) and Ecuador, the resolution was adopted by consensus.
The resolution follows up on and updates the 2021 resolution and the recent High Commissioner report on the same topic. It expresses serious concern about the inequalities in COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration between high- and low-income countries. The resolution calls for tackling health inequalities within and among countries and addressing the social, economic and environmental determinants of health, and emphasizes the importance of international cooperation and effective multilateralism in ensuring affordable, timely, equitable and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines for all States. It echoes the guidance issued by treaty bodies and special procedures. The resolution also acknowledges that the pandemic exacerbates existing inequalities and has a disproportionate effect on women and girls, including increased incidence of domestic violence and interrupted access to sexual and reproductive health services, and calls for a gender-responsive approach to recovery. It also recognizes ableism and the barriers and higher mortality rates faced by persons with disabilities during the pandemic.
Importantly, it calls on States to “remove unjustified obstacles, resulting in an unequal distribution in access to COVID-19 vaccines between developed and developing countries, and to promote equitable global distribution and universal access to vaccines,” to “support the delinking of the cost of new research and development from the prices of medicines, vaccines and diagnostics,” and urges them to “facilitate the production, trade, acquisition, access to and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines as a crucial element of their responses to the pandemic.” It reaffirms the right of States to use the flexibilities of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and interpret the Doha declaration in a manner supportive to facilitating access of vaccines to all. It further asks all stakeholder, partners and donors to urgently support funding and close the funding gap for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and its mechanisms, such as the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility. The resolution urges states to refrain from taking any economic, financial or trade measures that may adversely affect equitable, affordable, fair, timely and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, in particular in developing countries.
Finally, it mandates a report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights implications of and good practices and key challenges in affordable, timely, equitable and universal access to and distribution of quality, safe, efficacious and affordable COVID-19 vaccines and the impact on the right to health, to be presented to the 52nd session of the Council (March 2023) followed by an interactive dialogue at the same session, and preceded by an oral update at the 51st session (September 2022).
Resolution on the right to housing
Adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to non-discrimination in this context
Led by Germany, Brazil, Finland and Namibia and co-sponsored by 32 additional States as of 31 March 2022, the resolution focuses on the right to non-discrimination in the context of housing, and draws from the Special Rapporteur’s reports on housing discrimination and spatial segregation. It expresses concern about the substandard housing conditions and homelessness experienced by many, especially those facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, and about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the right to adequate housing.
Importantly, it expresses deep concern at the discrimination faced by women regarding security of tenure irrespective of family or relationship status; access to credit, low-cost housing, mortgages, home ownership and rental housing; and immediate access to emergency shelters in situations of domestic violence. It also calls on States to adopt institutional measures against systemic racism “beyond a summation of individualized acts” and expresses deep concern about the frequent lack of accessible and adequate housing for persons with disabilities. The resolution recognizes the housing impacts of climate change, financialization and housing speculation.
It calls on States to consider special measures to avoid evictions caused by the economic impact of the pandemic, and to ensure women’s right to housing, including through equal access to credit, mortgages, home ownership and rental housing, property and inheritance, and to ensure such housing is safe from violence. The resolution also calls on States to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence and domestic violence, and to eliminate legislation that criminalizes homelessness. It calls on States to prohibit all forms of discrimination, particularly racism, by public and private entities including housing and credit providers, and to monitor and address all forms of systemic racism and other forms of discrimination in housing, including spatial segregation.
Watch the discussion and adoption on UN Web TV.
Resolution on human rights defenders
Recognizing the contribution of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, in conflict and post-conflict situations, to the enjoyment and realization of human rights
Led by Norway and co-sponsored by 22 other States as of 1 April 2022, the resolution was adopted by vote with 39 States in favor and 8 abstentions. The vote was called by the Russian Federation.
The resolution recognizes the intersectional dimensions of violations against women human rights defenders and condemns violence, criminalization and all human rights violations against human rights defenders. It reaffirms everyone’s right to unhindered access to UN human rights bodies, and calls on States to develop comprehensive age- and gender-responsive legislation and policies protecting human rights defenders. It expresses concern about systemic and structural discrimination, economic disenfranchisement, violence and harassment disproportionately faced by women human rights defenders, including sexual and gender-based violence, defamation and smear campaigns. The resolution calls for an enabling environment for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women mediators, women’s civil society organizations, women peacebuilders and women human rights defenders, in activities related to conflict prevention and resolution, mediation, post-conflict reconstruction, peacemaking and peacebuilding. It also calls upon States to adopt a survivor-centred approach to address, prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, and threats thereof, including against women human rights defenders, women journalists and women peacebuilders, as well as female health workers.
Watch the discussion and adoption on UN Web TV.
Click here to see the results of the vote.
Resolution on the rights of the child
Rights of the child: realizing the rights of the child and family reunification
A/HRC/49/L.29 as orally revised
Led by Uruguay on behalf of GRULAC and France on behalf of the European Union, the resolution focuses on the rights of the child and family reunification.
12 amendments were tabled by the Russian Federation, 9 of which were withdrawn and 3 of which were rejected by vote.
The resolution calls on States to ensure the respect, protection and fulfillment of the rights of the child without any discrimination, to prevent family separation, and to ensure that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in family reunification, including in the context of cross-border migration. It urges States to address barriers to efficient, transparent, child-friendly and age-, disability- and gender-responsive family reunification procedures, including financial barriers. It urges States to ensure the right to health for all children, including sexual and reproductive health, and psychosocial health, and to prevent, respond to and eliminate all forms of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence and domestic violence, and all forms of exploitation and neglect and harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
The resolution requests a report from the High Commissioner on the rights of the child and inclusive social protection, to be presented to the 54th session of the Human Rights Council (September 2023). It also requests that the next annual meeting on the rights of the child in 2023 be organized on the theme of the rights of the child and the digital environment, and the 2024 annual meeting on the theme of the rights of the child and inclusive social protection.
Watch the discussion and adoption on UN Web TV.
Other relevant resolutions
- Freedom of religion or belief (led by France on behalf of the European Union) - A/HRC/49/L.2
- Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief (led by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation) - A/HRC/49/L.5
- Strengthening the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in the Work of the Human Rights Council (led by Mauritius, Barbados, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey) - A/HRC/49/L.3
- The negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights (led by Azerbaijan on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries) - A/HRC/49/L.6
- Cultural rights and the protection of cultural heritage (led by Cyprus, Argentina, Ethiopia, Greece, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Mali, Poland, Serbia, Switzerland) - A/HRC/49/L.8
- Commemoration of the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development (led by Azerbaijan on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries) - A/HRC/49/L.10
- Prevention of genocide (led by Armenia) - A/HRC/49/L.11
- Mandate renewals for the Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (A/HRC/49/L.14); the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief (A/HRC/49/L.2); and the Special Rapporteur on the right to food (A/HRC/49/L.22)
- Right to work (led by Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Mexico, Romania) - A/HRC/49/L.16
- Right of the Palestinian people to self-determination (led by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, except Albania and Cameroon) - A/HRC/49/L.17
- Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan (led by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, except Albania and Cameroon) - A/HRC/49/L.18
- Rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities (led by Austria, Mexico and Slovenia) - A/HRC/49/L.23/Rev.1
- Effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights (led by Cuba) - A/HRC/49/L.24
- Promotion of the enjoyment of the cultural rights of everyone and respect for cultural diversity (led by Cuba) - A/HRC/49/L.25
- Role of States in countering the negative impact of disinformation on the enjoyment and realization of human rights (led by Ukraine, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, United Kingdom, United States of America) - A/HRC/49/L.31/Rev.1
Sexual Rights-related Panel Discussions
Panel discussion on ensuring equitable, affordable, timely and universal access for all countries to vaccines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
The panel discussed the urgent need to ensure equitable and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines. Panelists included Gita Sen, General Coordinator of Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), who highlighted the urgent need to address inequality across South and North countries and within countries, as the fundamental driver of the world’s problems, including climate change and the pandemic, and called for an end to the stranglehold of intellectual property rights by large profit-driven pharma companies over access to vaccines, tests and therapeutics, costing lives, and to IMF-supported austerity policies severely jeopardizing recovery efforts and health systems.
Attiya Waris, Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, also pointed to the urgency of better international cooperation for timely, affordable and fair access to vaccines, especially for low- and middle-income countries, reiterated that existing financial resources should have been deployed more effectively, more equitably and faster, and echoed the demands of the Campaign for a People’s Vaccine.
Watch the discussion on UN WebTV. On this topic, see also the Joint statement by the Feminists for a People's Vaccine Campaign and the International Network to End Violence Against Women and Girls, delivered during the Item 8 General Debate.
SRI Oral Statements
- Statement during the dialogue with the Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights, reacting to the Independent Expert’s vision-setting report. Watch it with closed captions and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- Statement by SRI partner the Federation for Women and Family Planning during the Item 4 General Debate. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the general debate on UN Web TV.
Joint Oral Statements
- Joint statement by SRI and AWID for the panel discussion on family reunification in the context of migration, during the annual full-day meeting on the rights of the child. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- Joint statement with Women With Disabilities Development Foundation, Bonhishikha and IWRAW Asia Pacific working with the Women Gaining Ground consortium during the Annual interactive debate on the rights of persons with disabilities panel on Statistics and data collection. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- Joint statement by SRI and NSWP during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Housing, responding to the Special Rapporteur’s report on spatial segregation. Watch the statement and the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- Joint statement on access to COVID-19 vaccines with the Feminists for a People's Vaccine Campaign and the International Network to End Violence Against Women and Girls, delivered during the Item 8 General Debate. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full debate on UN Web TV.
- SRI endorsed a statement delivered by the Center for Reproductive Rights to mark International Women’s Day at the Council
- UPR adoption of Hungary: joint statement with People Opposing Patriarchy Association. Watch it on UN Web TV.
- UPR adoption of Tanzania: joint statement with the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and an anonymous human rights defender from Tanzania. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- UPR adoption of Papua New Guinea: joint statement with Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- UPR adoption of Samoa: joint statement with Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- UPR adoption of Tajikistan: joint statement with an independent activist in Central Asia. Watch it on UN Web TV.
- UPR adoption of Tajikistan: joint statement with Y-PEER in Tajikistan (NGO “Hamsol ba hamsol”). Watch it on UN Web TV.
- UPR adoption of Eswatini: joint statement with the African Sex Workers Alliance. Watch it on UN Web TV.
- UPR adoption of Thailand: joint statement with Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- UPR adoption of Suriname: joint statement with the Youth Advisory Group of the UNFPA Suriname. Watch it on UN Web TV.
- UPR adoption of Trinidad and Tobago: joint statement with the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Council, Trinidad and Tobago Youth Convention, Crisis Hour Adventist Youth Society and the Young Women's Christian Association of Trinidad and Tobago. Watch it on UN Web TV.
SRI Side Event: Taking Stock of Comprehensive Sexuality Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality. Over the past two years the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on education in every country of the world with much of it moving online. However, despite the ‘COVID connectivity boost’, 2.9 billion people still have never used the internet. 2.2 billion people below the age of 25 lack internet access at home. The gender divide in internet access is around 17% and in the world's least developed countries it's up to 43%. Girls and women are also less likely to own their own devices to connect to the Internet. Even when continuing CSE online might have been a possibility, the lack of adequate institutional support and teachers’ struggles to adapt academic teaching to online platforms has led to a deprioritisation of CSE, as a nice-to-have instead of an essential part of young people’s education.
In this context, the organisers of this side event hosted a conversation with a range of actors committed to ensuring access to CSE, to explore the significance of CSE; the impact COVID-19 pandemic has had on CSE and related SRHR; and share strategies moving forward.
Lobna Darwish (EIPR) moderated the event.
The panelists were:
- Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health
- Mr. Julius Natangwe Nghifikwa, Deputy-Director, HIV & AIDS Management Unit, Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Namibia
- Anne Philpott, Founder and Co-Director of The Pleasure Project
- Pahola Peñaranda Villarroel, National Education Manager, CIES Salud Sexual – Salud Reproductiva
- Maria Bakaroudis, CSE Specialist and focal point on SRHR and young people with disabilities, UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office
We extend our gratitude to the event’s co-sponsors:
- The Permanent Mission of Argentina
- The Permanent Mission of Mexico
- The Permanent Mission of Namibia
- The Permanent Mission of South Africa
- The Pleasure Project
- CIES Salud Sexual - Salud Reproductiva
- The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
- The Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW)
- The Center for Reproductive Rights
- The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
- The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU)
SRI co-sponsored the side event “centering their voices: accountability for women and girls in humanitarian situations” organised by the Centre for Reproductive Rights and the side event on “examining the applicability and implications of the apartheid framework to Israel’s repressive rule over the Palestinian people” organised by the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies.