Here’s what happened at HRC 50!

Published on July 14, 2022

The 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council took place from 13 June to 8 July. Below you will find information on some of the key sexual rights-related

  • Resolutions
  • Panel discussions
  • Oral statements 
  • SRI Side Event 

 

The Sexual Rights Initiative, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development and Center for Reproductive Rights  are concerned over the rhetoric and discussion on women’s human rights in particular during the resolution negotiations on elimination of discrimination against women and girls, violence against women and girls. At this 50th session, the hostilities have only increased and are cause for greater mobilisation to ensure that women and girls' voices are heard - loud and clear. The number and scope of the amendments are further evidence of escalating attacks on women’s and girls’ human rights and attempts to roll-back language from foundational intergovernmental agreements adopted more than 25 years ago.  Under the guise of cultural relativism, some States continue to deny the universality of human rights when it applies to women and girls’ bodies and lives and the inherent harm caused by patriarchal norms that exist in all societies. Through unnecessary qualifiers, filibustering tactics in negotiations, dilution of language on State obligations and insistence on references that elevate male and/or state control over women and girls, some States are openly intent on eroding the substance and process of fulfilling women and girls’ human rights.   

While none of the amendments were accepted and the resolutions was adopted by consensus (albeit with some States dissociating from different paragraphs), we cannot ignore the immediate and cumulative impact of these negotiating processes and tactics. They are designed to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the international human rights system, to exhaust, frustrate and distract those working to advance the full range of women’s and girls’ human rights and to push States into political corners where there is little room for genuine dialogue. These tactics reflect the broader context of pushback against progress made towards women’s and girls’ liberation at all levels, with reactionary actors often being the same and deploying their networks from national to global spaces.  Women and girls in all countries pay the price for this geopolitical theatre.  As women human rights defenders, feminist advocates and activists, our ability to resist co-optation by this flawed system and also to continue to make our voices heard within these spaces is more important than ever.  

 

A/HRC/50/L.22/Rev.1 as orally revised

Led by Mexico, Argentina and Chile and co-sponsored by 52 other countries as of 8 July 2022.  The resolution was adopted by consensus.

This resolution focuses on the participation of women and girls in public life.  It sets out the barriers to women and girls’ participation, affirms their related human rights and identifies actions States can take to fulfill their obligations in this area.  The resolution further extends the mandate of the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls for three years.  The resolution reaffirms women and girls’ participation in public and private life and the agency and autonomy of adolescents and young women. Crucially, the resolution reinforces substantive equality, the right to bodily autonomy, comprehensive sexuality education and the right to sexual and reproductive health and sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights without qualifiers. This resolution is the third time that the right to bodily autonomy has been reinforced. 

A total of 11 amendments were tabled. Three were withdrawn with the oral revisions to the text. The rest of the 8 amendments were defeated. The amendments are provided below; 

Watch the discussion and adoption and the explanations of vote on resolutions under item 3, including on this resolution. 

 

A/HRC/50/L.7

Led by Canada and co-sponsored by 75 other countries as of 8 July 2022. The resolution was adopted by consensus. 

The resolution was a technical mandate renewal, with the addition of ‘girls’ to the title of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and its consequences. One amendment was tabled by the Russian Federation, qualifying the outcome documents of the review of conferences of ICPD  and Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action with ‘as adopted by the General Assembly’’.  The Amendment was defeated with 23 Against, 9 In Favour and 13 Abstentions. 

Watch the discussion and adoption and the explanations of vote on resolutions under item 3, including on this resolution. 

 

A/HRC/50/L.15/Rev.1

Led by Africa Group and co-sponsored by 11 other countries as of 8 July 2022. The resolution was adopted by consensus. 

The resolution was focused on transnational protection. The resolution did not recall the outcome documents agreed to in the previous resolutions and the links to gender based discrimination was not addressed. The resolution reaffirms that female genital mutilation (FGM) constitutes a grave human rights violation and abuse as well as a form of extreme violence against women and girls. It also reaffirms that FGM is inherently linked to deep-rooted harmful stereotypes and that FGM constitutes torture and should be prohibited. The resolution rightly calls on States to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against women and girls. It also calls on States to not perpetuate structural racism in addressing cross-border and transnational female genital mutilation by applying pervasive racial, ethnic or religious stereotypes, prejudice or bias in law enforcement, particularly at borders. 

Watch the discussion and adoption and the explanations of vote on resolutions under item 3, including on this resolution. 

 

A/HRC/50/L.13/ Rev.1

Led by Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand and co-sponsored by 35 other countries as of 8 July 2022. The resolution was adopted by consensus. 

The resolution focuses on access to medicines, vaccines and other health products for emerging and neglected diseases. The resolution mandates the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to enhance its work, within its mandate, and to organize three expert workshops. It further asks the OHCHR to provide technical assistance to States throughout the next three years on the human rights dimension of access to medicines and vaccines including good practices, key challenges and new developments. It further asks OHCHR to present to the Human Rights Council a compendium of good practices at its 53rd session and an analytical study on key challenges at its 56th session, with a view of presenting a comprehensive report, including new developments, at its 59th session.

Despite opposition to language on unhindered access, the resolution rightly calls on states to promote timely, equitable and unhindered access to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, and other health products and technologies including through the use of flexibility in TRIPs. The resolution highlighted the significance of the transparency of markets, costs and supply chains and the need to address the challenges, gaps, and market failures among others. 

Watch the discussion and adoption and the explanations of vote on resolutions under item 3, including on this resolution. 

 

  • Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights (led by Azerbaijan on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries) - A/HRC/50/L.1
  • Independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors, and the independence of lawyers - Participation of women in the administration of justice (Hungary, Australia, Botswana, Maldives, Mexico and Thailand) - A/HRC/50/L.3
  • Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (Austria, Honduras, Uganda) - A/HRC/50/L.4
  • The Social Forum (Cuba) - A/HRC/50/L.8
  • Human rights and international solidarity (Cuba) - A/HRC/50/L.9
  • Human Rights and climate change (Bangladesh, Philippines, Viet Nam) - A/HRC/50/L.10/Rev.1
  • Freedom of opinion and expression (Canada, Brazil, Fiji, Namibia, Netherland and Sweden) - A/HRC/50/L.11
  • Human rights and the regulation of civil acquisition, possession and use of firearms (Ecuador, Peru) - A/HRC/50/L.12
  • The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests (Switzerland, Costa Rica) - A/HRC/50/L.16
  • The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (Czechia, Indonesia, Lithuania, Maldives, Mexico, United States of America) - A/HRC/50/L.20

 

Panel discussion on menstrual hygiene management, human rights and gender equality

This was the first time that menstruation was the focus of a panel discussion at the Human Rights Council, highlighting the impacts of menstrual health and human rights and their impact on people. 

Watch the discussion on UN WebTV, and read our live coverage of this panel here.

 

Panel discussion on exploring the nexus between climate change and violence against women and girls through a human rights lens

As is the case for other crises, climate change exacerbates the risks of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls. The panel discussed the intersections between climate change and violence against women and girls and further the understanding of the human rights framework applicable in dealing with the intersectionality of these issues. 

Watch the discussion on UN Web TV, and see our coverage of this panel on Twitter here.

 

Panel on human rights-based and gender-responsive care and support systems 

The panel addressed the key issue of unpaid care. The panel highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the gaps in care and support systems everywhere. Since the care economy is overwhelmingly reliant on  women and girls unrecognised and under- / non-compensated labour, the panel discussed key areas of addressing this gap and furthering care and support systems.

Watch the discussion on UN WebTV. SRI made a statement during the panel discussion which you can watch here. Read our live coverage of this panel on Twitter here.

 

 

  • Joint statement with Action Canada’s National Youth Advisory Board during the interactive dialogue with the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls.  Watch the first and second parts of the full dialogue on UN Web TV. 
  • Joint statement with Her Rights Initiative and the Women’s Legal Centre during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on HealthWatch the full dialogue on UN Web TV and see our live coverage of this dialogue on Twitter here.
  • Joint statement with the Federation for Women and Family Planning and PATENT during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, commenting on her visit to Hungary.  Watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV. 
  • Joint statement with Center for Reproductive Rights during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, also commenting on his visit to Lebanon. Watch the first and second parts of the full dialogue on UN Web TV. 

 

If you missed the event, you can catch up with the recording, resources, transcript and Twitter highlights from SRI. 

Population policies are laws, policies and other measures taken by States as a response to changing population dynamics including by introducing measures to increase populations or control population growth. Often these are introduced at the behest of states and disregard the wishes of the people concerned. At the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, 179 governments adopted the Programme of Action and called for women’s reproductive health and rights to be at the center of population policies. The need for a human rights framing was necessary because of the many coercive population measures introduced premised on the idea that the decrease in mortality rates and increased fertility rates, would result in population growth that exceeded available resources. These coercive population measures resulted in widespread human rights violations. Despite the adoption of the Programme of Action governments have continued to introduce and implement pro-natalist and other coercive population control policies and measures.

The side event explored the history and resurgence of coercive population policies, pro-natalist policies, population control policies and everything in between to highlight that all of them are violations of human rights. The side event featured presentations and analysis from feminists to oppose coercive population control by centering bodily autonomy and reproductive justice. 

Pooja Badarinath (SRI Geneva) moderated the side event. You can read our live coverage of the side event on Twitter here and watch the full recording of the side event here.

 

PANELISTS        

  • Loretta Ross, activist, public intellectual, professor and co-founder of Sister Song
  • Melissa Upreti, Chair of the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls
  • Sarojini N., Sama - Resource Group for Women and Health
  • Sussan Tahmasebi, FEMENA

We extend our gratitude to the event’s co-sponsors:

  • The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
  • The Center for Reproductive Rights
  • FEMENA
UN Mechanism