Young Advocates and Rutgers at the 41st session of the Human Rights Council

Three times a year, UN member states gather at the Human Rights Council (HRC) to discuss the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. This is a key space for Rutgers’ work to advance Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, especially in current times of growing conservative opposition forces in governments.

Our advocates attended the 41st session of the HRC in June, during which important resolutions were adopted on the human rights of women and girls. A victory was the extension of the mandate for the independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity with a bigger margin of the vote. And, civil society organisations held statements on relevant reports of Special Rapporteurs.

Evi van den Dungen, Advocacy Officer at Rutgers attended the session together with other advocates from Right Here Right Now. “The human rights council gives space to civil society organisations to deliver statements, participate in informal consultations on resolutions and to freely advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights. I am pleased to see more and more youth taking the floor, claiming their rights and talking about matters affecting their lives, as youth are often surpassed in policies.”

Resolutions

The 41st session of the council held negotiation on resolutions such as Child Early and Forced Marriage, Violence against Women and Girls, Discrimination against Women and Girls and a resolution on Youth and Human Rights. These resolutions are essential to young people’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. Unfortunately, we saw backlash on gender and sexual and reproductive health, with states posing amendments to remove agreed language on comprehensive sexuality education, the mention of girls or the mention of intimate partner violence. Luckily, those amendments were rejected and important gains in resolutions were made.

Independent Expert on SOGI

The extension of the mandate of the independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on SOGI, was one of the precarious discussions that took place, with many countries opposing LGBTI rights or the mandate of the independent expert. Past years, the expert has done great work in assisting States to better protect people from violence and discrimination based on SOGI and in reaching out to those in the most vulnerable situations. Right Here Right Now advocates had discussions with several members of the council and held a statement on the importance of consulting young LGBTI people on matters affecting them.

Statements

Rutgers took lead on a joint-statement on the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, which focused on privatisation of education. Sanila Gurung, an advocate from the Right Here Right Now Nepal platform read the statement in the council. She asked governments to ensure the right to education of which Comprehensive Sexuality Education is an essential component. Rutgers co-sponsored the joint CSO statement on youth and SRHR.

Responses