The 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council took place from 13 September to 11 October. Below you will find information on some of the key sexual rights-related
- Panel discussions
- Oral statements
- Joint Abortion Statement
This International Safe Abortion Day, 372 organisations and 322 individuals demanded the right to free, safe and accessible abortion in a joint statement delivered at HRC 48 in four parts. The statement reiterates that every country in the world and the UN is implicated in our preventable deaths and morbidity.
- #EmptyChairs Campaign Tweet Chat
#EmptyChairs is a feminist campaign which seeks to radically transform the United Nations Human Rights System into a People’s Council - a body led and owned by ordinary people all over the world, who set the agenda and make decisions that are then supported and implemented by political leaders.
Campaign members held an #EmptyChairs Tweet chat on 14 September to explore how a People’s Council can advance social justice for all. You will find the tweet chat highlights on this page.
Resolution on child, early and forced marriage
Child, early and forced marriage in times of crisis, including the COVID-19 pandemic
Led by Netherlands, Argentina, Canada, Honduras, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom and Uruguay and co-sponsored by 72 other countries as of 8 October 2021, the resolution was adopted by consensus.
The resolution focusing on addressing child, early and forced marriage in times of crisis, calls for a two-full-day workshop focusing on the adverse impact of forced marriage on the full and effective enjoyment of all human rights by all women and girls. The resolution also mandates the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to organise the workshop in consultation with and involvement of women and girls. The resolution highlights the specific impacts of crisis, including of COVID 19, on the lives of women and girls, including the discontinuation of education, interruptions to essential services including sexual and reproductive health services. It highlights the state's obligation to ensure the full realisation of the right to sexual and reproductive health at all times.
Three clusters of amendments were tabled for this resolution;
- Deletion of the “right to sexual and reproductive health”, “reproductive rights” and qualifying intimate partner violence with the phrase ‘where addressed separately in different legal systems”, tabled by Egypt, Bahrain, Eswatini, Iraq, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. The amendment was defeated with 15 in favour, 23 against and 6 abstentions.
- Deletion and/or qualifying paragraphs dealing with sexuality of women and girls, meaningful and inclusive participation of women and girls and girl’s rights by the Russian Federation. The amendment was defeated with 12 in favour, 23 against and 9 abstentions.
- Qualifying the reaffirmation of outcome documents of regional conferences the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, also by the Russian Federation. The amendment was defeated with 14 in favour, 21 against and 9 abstentions.
Resolution on negative impact of the legacies of colonialism on the enjoyment of human rights
Negative impact of the legacies of colonialism on the enjoyment of human rights
Led by China, Sri Lanka and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) co-sponsored by 7 other countries as of 7 October 2021, the resolution was adopted by vote with 27 in favour, none against and 20 abstentions. The vote was called by the United Kingdom.
The resolution, a new initiative, calls for a panel discussion at the 51st session of the Human Rights Council to identify challenges in addressing the negative impact of the legacies of colonialism on human rights, and to discuss ways forward. The resolution acknowledges that legacies of colonialism, in all their manifestations, such as economic exploitation, inequality within and among states, systemic racism, violations of indigenous peoples’ rights, contemporary form of slavery and damage to cultural heritage, have a negative impact on the effective enjoyment of all human rights.
Three amendments were tabled by the United Kingdom:
- Inserting a new paragraph on indigenous human rights defenders and women human rights defenders. The amendment was withdrawn during adoption.
- Inserting a new paragraph that highlights that persecution against members of any identifiable group, collective or community on racial, national, ethnic or other grounds is a violation of human rights and is classified as a crime against humanity. The amendment was adopted with 16 in favour, 13 against and 16 abstentions
- Inserting a new paragraph on forced assimilation of persons belonging to minorities, including indigenous populations. The amendment was adopted with 15 in favour, 13 against and 17 abstentions.
Resolution on reprisals
Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights
Led by Uruguay, Fiji, Ghana, Ireland and Hungary and co-sponsored by 51 other countries as of 7 October 2021, the resolution was adopted by consensus.
The resolution aims to strengthen the responses by the UN and states to put an end to acts of intimidation and reprisals against those who engage with the UN. The resolution draws attention to the worsening trend of reprisals and intimidation and strengthens the responses by the UN and states. It invites the Secretary- General to submit his annual reprisals report also to the General Assembly as from its seventy-seventh session, which will ensure greater attention to the issue and contribute to a more coherent system-wide response across the UN.
Nine amendments were tabled by the Russian Federation. Two of those were withdrawn during adoption. The rest of the amendments were rejected. Some of these include:
- Qualifying or reducing impacts of access to the UN or complaining on reprisals and intimidation.
- Deletion of paragraph on the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
- Deletion of the paragraph encouraging the Assistant Secretary-General to continue in his role as the senior official on reprisals since the SG's designation in 2016.
Other relevant resolutions
- From rhetoric to reality; a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (led by Cameroon on behalf of the Group of African states) - A/HRC/48/L.3/Rev.1
- Equal participation in political and public affairs (led by Czech Republic, Botswana, Indonesia, Netherlands, Peru) - A/HRC/48/L.4/Rev.1
- Human rights of older persons (led by Argentina, Brazil, Slovenia) - A/HRC/48/L.5/Rev.1
- The right to privacy in the digital age (led by Germany, Austria, Brazil, Liechtenstein) - A/HRC/48/L.9/Rev.1
- The use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination (led by Cuba) - A/HRC/48/L.12
- Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order (led by Cuba) - A/HRC/48/L.13
- Realizing a better life for everyone (led by China) - A/HRC/48/L.14 [withdrawn]
- Question of the death penalty (led by Switzerland, Belgium, Benin, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Mongolia, Republic of Moldova) - A/HRC/48/L.17/Rev.1
- The right to development (Led by Azerbaijan on behalf of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries) - A/HRC/48/L.18
- Human rights and indigenous peoples (led by Mexico and Guatemala) - A/HRC/48/L.22
- The human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (led by Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia, Switzerland) - A/HRC/47/L.23/Rev.1
- Human rights implications of the COVID -19 pandemic on young people (led by Uzbekistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, El Salvador, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Tunisia) - A/HRC/48/L.26/Rev.1
- Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change (led by Marshall Islands, Bahamas, European Union, Fiji, Panama, Paraguay, Sudan) - A/HRC/48/L.27
Sexual Rights-related Panel Discussions
Annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Council and its mechanisms on gender digital divide in times of COVID-19
The panel discussed the continuing gender disparities in access to and benefit from information and communications technology (ICT) reflect discrimination faced by women and girls in society. It specifically also addressed the great reliance on technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, which only exacerbates the existing gender based discrimination and inequalities.
Half-day panel discussion on deepening inequalities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and their implications for the realization of human rights
The panel addressed the inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19 within and among countries. An overwhelming message from the panel was to ensure equitable access to vaccines to COVID -19 beginning with adopting the TRIPs waiver on manufacture of vaccines.
SRI Oral Statements
- Statement on the dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- UPR outcome of Mozambique: joint statement with Mozambican Young Feminists Watch it with closed captions and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- UPR outcome of Paraguay: joint statement with Aireana, group for lesbian rights, Akahatã, Asociación Panambí, Network against all forms of discrimination, Somos Pytyvõhára and Synergia. Watch it with closed captions in Spanish and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- UPR adoption of Denmark: joint statement with That’s What She Said. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- UPR adoption of Somalia: joint statement with Somali Women Development Centre. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- UPR adoption of Seychelles: joint statement with Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- SRI partner the Federation for Women and Family Planning also delivered two statements demanding access to safe abortion in Poland. Watch their statements during the Item 6 General Debate and during the Item 8 General Debate.
Joint oral statements
- Joint statement with Plan International, Child Rights Connect, IPPF, Rutgers, Save the Children, World Vision and World YWCA during the Annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms Watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- Statement by the #EmptyChairs campaign delivered by IWRAW Asia Pacific during the Item 8 General Debate. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- Statement by the #EmptyChairs campaign during the dialogue with the Independent Expert on international order. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.
- Joint statement with the Institute for Race and Equality during the dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, and reparations. Watch it with closed captions in English and watch the full dialogue on UN Web TV.