The 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council took place from 12 September to 7 October. Below you will find information on some of the key sexual rights-related:
- Panel discussions
- Oral statements
- Side Events
Joint Civil Society Statement on Abortion at HRC 51
To coincide with International Safe Abortion Day, the Sexual Rights Initiative, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Ipas, the International Service for Human Rights, Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, MSI Reproductive Choices and the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education launched again a call this year for a Joint Civil Society Statement on Abortion.
The focus of this year’s statement was to highlight the trend of liberalisation of abortion in the world and that denial of abortion is a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We thank everyone who signed on to this year’s Joint Civil Society Statment on Abortion. Last year our statement was supported by 372 organisations and 322 individuals.
This year, the statement gathered the signatures of 425 organisations and 459 individuals.
Together, we sent a strong message to the international community for safe and legal abortion. The statement was delivered to the Item 8 discussion at the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council, on Monday, 3 October.
You can view the delivery of the statement here.
Sexual Rights-related Resolutions
The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation - A/HRC/51/L.40.
Led by Germany and Spain and co-sponsored by 60 other countries as of 7 October 2022. The resolution was adopted by consensus.
The resolution was a technical mandate renewal, with the addition and consolidation of language on gender. The resolution also updates to take into account the impacts of climate change. The resolution highlights the linkages between water and sanitation and menstrual health and hygiene. It also highlights the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls. It recognises the need to expand, as a matter of utmost urgency, access to adequate water and sanitation services, including menstrual health and hygiene, and to sexual and reproductive healthcare services.
From rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance - A/HRC/51/L.28/Rev.1
This resolution was led by the Africa Group and co-sponsored by seven other countries as of 7 October 2022. The resolution was adopted by a vote with 32 In Favour, 9 Against and 6 Abstentions.
The resolution focused on the need to fully and effectively implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The resolution included multiple references to the need to address violent manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other related intolerance and to the ideologies that underpin these manifestations, such as white supremacy. Some of the key “asks'' of the resolution were for states to fully cooperate with the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the context of Law Enforcement. Another “ask” was for work on the protocol to CERD to continue based on the conclusions and recommendations made by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination at their 11th and 12th meeting. Additionally, the resolution sets some of the terms of the operation of the Group of Independent Eminent Experts on the Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
Other relevant resolutions
- Neurotechnology and human rights (led by Greece, Chile and Singapore) - A/HRC/51/L.3
- The human rights of older persons (Argentina, Brazil and Slovenia) - A/HRC/51/L.4
- The right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (Brazil) - A/HRC/51/L.5
- The role of good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights (Poland, Australia, Chile, Republic of Korea and South Africa) - A/HRC/51/L.7
- The right to development (Azerbaijan on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries) - A/HRC/51/L.9
- Strengthening the voluntary funds for the universal periodic review mechanism of the Human Rights Council (Argentina, Armenia, Fiji, Norway, Pakistan and South Africa) - A/HRC/51/L.10 Rev.1
- Promoting international cooperation to support national mechanisms for implementation, reporting and follow-up (Paraguay, Brazil) - A/HRC/51/L.11
- Arbitrary detention (France) - A/HRC/51/L.12
- The safety of journalists (Austria, Brazil, Frame, Greece, Morocco, Qatar and Tunisia) - A/HRC/51/L.14
- Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order (Cuba) - A/HRC/51/L.20
- The human rights implications of new and emerging technologies in the military domain (Panama, Austria) - A/HRC/51/L.25
- The role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights: rule of law and accountability (Ukraine, Australia, Hungary, Maldives, Morocco, Poland and Uruguay) - A/HRC/51/L.29
- Youth and human rights (Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Tunisia and Uzbekistan) - A/HRC/51/L.32 Rev.1
- Human rights and transitional justice (Switzerland, Argentina and Morocco) - A/HRC/51/L.33
- Human rights and Indigenous Peoples (Mexico and Guatemala) - A/HRC/51/L.39
- Terrorism and human rights (Mexico and Egypt) - A/HRC/51/L.42
Sexual Rights-related Panel Discussions
Annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms
The theme of the annual panel discussion was overcoming gender-based barriers to freedom of opinion and expression.
Panel discussion on the negative impact of the legacies of colonialism on the enjoyment of human rights
In its resolution 48/7, the Council stressed the utmost importance of eradicating colonialism and addressing the negative impact of the legacies of colonialism on the enjoyment of human rights. It recognised with concern that the legacies of colonialism, in all their manifestations, such as economic exploitation, inequality within and among States, systemic racism, violations of indigenous peoples’ rights, contemporary forms of slavery and damage to cultural heritage, have a negative impact on the effective enjoyment of all human rights.
SRI Oral Statements
- Statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the right to development. Watch the dialogue on UN Web TV.
- Statement of SRI partner, Federation for Women and Family Planning from Poland, during the General Debate on Item 4 calling on removing all barriers to access to legal abortion and contraception for all women in Poland.
- Statement during the General Debate on Item 6 highlights that during the fourth cycle, states should commit to holding each other accountable for delivering on sexual and reproductive rights.
Joint oral statements
- Joint statement with AWID and IWRAW Asia Pacific to the Biennial panel discussion on the Right to Development. Watch the panel discussion.
- Joint statement with the International Dalit Solidarity Network, Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network and National Council of Women Leaders on contemporary forms of slavery to the General Debate on Item 3. Watch the dialogue with SR on contemporary forms of slavery.
- Joint statement with the #EmptyChairs Campaign for the Annual Panel on the integration of a gender perspective to the work of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms. Watch the panel discussion.
- Joint statement with Al-Haq, IWRAW Asia-Pacific, ILGA and AWID Panel discussion on the negative impact of the legacies of colonialism on the enjoyment of human rights. Watch the panel discussion.
SRI Side Event: A Conversation on Safe Abortion
If you missed the event, you can catch up with the recording, and Twitter highlights from SRI.
Every year, International Safe Abortion Day on 28th September is an occasion to highlight the need for access to safe abortion everywhere in the world. Globally, abortion laws are moving towards liberalisation, yet it is necessary to remember universally accessible abortion upon request is still a far-off reality. We are also witnessing intensifying anti-abortion campaigns resulting in the retrogression of human rights. One of the mainstays of anti-abortion movements is disinformation and inaccuracies, including in human rights and multilateral spaces.
The 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council allowed us to commemorate International Safe Abortion Day by discussing safe abortion in accurate, scientific, non-judgmental terms and to inform and update all stakeholders on the recently released Abortion Care Guidelines by the WHO. The Sexual Rights Initiative hosted a moderated conversation with a representative of the WHO and a feminist activist to discuss safe abortion and its implementation. At the core of every discussion on abortion is a question of autonomy and control, particularly regarding the self-management of abortion. The conversation addressed the key aspects of the safe abortion guidelines and discussed essential policy landscape.
- Dr Bela Ganatra, Unit Head, Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (PUA), Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP), WHO
- Maria Luisa Peralta, Akahatá – Equipo de Trabajo en Sexualidades y Géneros
We extend our gratitude to the event’s co-sponsors:
- The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
- The Center for Reproductive Rights
- International Planned Parenthood Federation
- the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women
- CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality
- The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education
- MSI Reproductive Choices