UN resolution on women’s rights defenders passed General Assembly Committee but..

November 28, 2013

A UN General Assembly committee has agreed a landmark first resolution on women human rights defenders, but compromise forced some weakening of the text. A Norwegian-led coalition, which prepared the resolution, had to delete language that condemned “all forms of violence against women” to get the text passed by consensus late Wednesday 27 November. Some African nations, the Vatican, Iran, Russia, China and conservative Muslim states had sought to weaken the resolution passed by the assembly’s human rights committee, diplomats and activists said. The resolution calls on all states to publicly condemn violence against women human rights defenders, amend legislation that hinders them and give activists free access to UN bodies. “The international community has sent a clear message. It’s unacceptable to criminalize, stigmatize or curtail women’s human rights defenders,” said Geir Sjoberg, the Norwegian government’s lead negotiator on the resolution. “There is a great mismatch between realities for brave women on the ground and what was agreed today. The real work starts now,’‘ he added.

African countries had insisted on highlighting respect for customs and traditions. Russia, Iran and China had called for language which insisted the rights defenders should follow national laws. In the end, Norway agreed to delete a paragraph which said states should “strongly condemn all forms of violence against women and women human rights defenders and refrain from invoking any customs, traditions or religious consideration to avoid their obligations.” African nations in turn withdrew a proposed amendment which said human rights defenders had to fall in line with “local situations,” diplomats said. More than 30 European countries withdrew as co-sponsors of the resolution in protest at the concession.
Iceland remained as a co-sponsor, but its UN ambassador Greta Gunnarsdottir called the concession “a low point” for the UN rights committee. The Vatican led opponents to references in the draft to the risks faced by those working on sexual and reproductive health and gender rights, said HRDs who felt that the UN committee should have stood firm against the changes. Women human rights defenders often “challenge traditional religious and cultural values and practices which subordinate, stigmatise or restrict women” when they take up gender and sexual rights, said Eleanor Openshaw of the International Service for Human Rights.

UN resolution on women’s rights defenders passed amid China, Vatican objections – The Standard.


One Response to “UN resolution on women’s rights defenders passed General Assembly Committee but..”

  1. […] UN resolution on women’s rights defenders passed General Assembly Committee but.. […]

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