Joint Statement on the cultural dimensions of the right to education or the right to education as a cultural right.

Logos from the organizations making this joint statement.

47th Session of the Human Rights Council

Joint-NGO statement

ID with SR on Right to Education – HRC47

Madame President,

Rutgers, together with 7 NGOs, welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on the cultural dimensions of the right to education or the right to education as a cultural right.

Adolescents and young people have the right to information about sexual and reproductive health, which is supported by international law standards. The right to comprehensive sexuality education derives from a range of human rights, such as the right to live free from violence and discrimination, the right to the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health, but also the right to receive and impart information and the right to quality inclusive education.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have interpreted that the right to education includes the right to comprehensive sexuality education. The Special Rapporteur in 2010 also stressed that “sexual education should be considered a right in itself and should be clearly linked with other rights in accordance with the principle of the interdependence and indivisibility of human rights”.

Since its publication by UNESCO several UN agencies have urged governments to use the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education for the realization of the SDGs within a framework of human rights and gender equality. This guidance stresses that curricula and materials on comprehensive sexuality education should be culturally responsive and relevant, and context appropriate. However, sexuality education according to the guidance should not include value judgments and stereotypes, as these programs need to be scientifically accurate, age and developmentally appropriate and based on human rights and gender equality.

Cultural and traditional values are often mis-presented as incompatible with evidence-based CSE and, therefore, instrumentalised against the implementation of comprehensive sexuality education or used as arguments against including CSE in human rights resolutions. These arguments are held despite the fact that CSE is by definition culturally relevant and context specific.

On similar grounds, States and education institutions often replace comprehensive programs with alternatives that are mere biology, not scientifically accurate or rights-based thus withholding information from young people which could cause harm to adolescents' health and well-being and thus violate their right to the highest attainable standard of health.

We encourage states to ensure the health and well-being of adolescents by respecting, protecting and fulfilling the right to sexuality education by providing and implementing rights-based comprehensive sexuality education in and out of schools.

Thank you.

Statement by Rutgers

Endorsed by:

  • Stichting CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality
  • Swedish Association for Sexuality Education
  • Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women
  • International Planned Parenthood Federation
  • Plan International, Inc
  • AWID, Association for Women’s Rights in Development 
  • Sexual Rights Initiative