to the work of the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms
26 September 2022
Statement by the Federation for Women and Family Planning
Thank you, President.
We make this statement on behalf of the #EmptyChairs Campaign1.
Resolution 6/30 was developed to ensure that the Council and its mechanisms would consistently integrate a gendered analysis and address gender inequity throughout all aspects of its work. In this regard, we remind the Council of the spirit and intention of resolution 6/30 as an accountability mechanism for its commitments to address gender equality as a cross-cutting issue in all its programmatic, institutional and policy work. These commitments remain as critical as ever as women’s rights are regularly undermined and instrumentalized throughout the UN human rights system and we are witnessing the alarming trend of States denying the very word “gender”.
For this panel, we wish to highlight the systemic and infrastructural issues in the “so called” efficiency measures in the context of our right to freedom of opinion and expression. We are concerned that civil society engagement with the Council is being negatively affected by efforts to streamline its processes and that this has a particular gendered impact. Reduced time for statements and panels, limitations on number of NGO speakers, cancellation of general debates, mean that fewer people are able to meaningfully participate in the work of the Council. As is well documented, when civil society space is restricted in general, it has a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, with their concerns receiving even less time and attention. Unfortunately, this Council has shown that it is no different.
As we have seen in the past two years, hybrid modalities for civil society participation have only increased the Council’s effectiveness in fulfilling its mandate. We remind again, the HRC must not compromise effectiveness for expediency. Freedom of opinion and expression, including related to gender, the human rights of women and those in structurally marginalized communities, must not be stifled in the name of institutional efficiency. Nor should efficiency measures be used as a cover to limit participation of civil society within Council processes.
We call on the Council and its mechanisms to hold up a mirror to its own actions on gender integration as is mandated by resolution 6/30 and to fulfill its obligations to support an enabling environment for freedom of opinion and expression.
I thank you.
1 Including the International Service for Human Rights, the Urgent Action Fund, and the Sexual Rights Initiative.