The 39th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC39) is currently ongoing and, as part of its programme of work, it will hold today (24 September 2018)  its annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Council and of its mechanisms. “Gender integration and human rights investigations: strengthening a victim-centred approach” is the theme for this year.

Madeleine Rees, WILPF Secretary-General, will be one of the panellists, together with Shuvai Nyoni, Director of the African Leadership Centre, and Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria. The discussion will be moderated by Emily Kenney, Policy Specialist, Transitional Justice at UN Women, and opened with a statement by Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.     

The Human Rights Council established this annual discussion in 2007 with the objective of evaluating progress made and challenges experienced in ensuring that a gender perspective is integrated in the thematic and country work of the Council and its mechanisms e.g. commissions of inquiry, fact-finding missions and special rapporteurs. Topics covered in previous annual discussions include “Promoting gender equality as institutions practice: from policy to action (2011),” “Economic, social and cultural rights of women (2012),” and the “Gender integration in the resolutions and recommendations of the HRC (2016).”

This year, the panel will explore how to expand the focus on gender-based violence, away from solely sexual violence, including by looking at root causes and at how pre-existing discrimination is exacerbated by conflict.

International commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions have worked to provide a strengthened victim-centred approach to their investigations. The acknowledgment of the differences in experience of women, men, girls, boys and other gender identities, and marginalised populations has paved the way to subverting the damaging stereotypical narratives, instead highlights their specific needs. However, it needs to remain a continuous effort.  

The discussions this year will revolve around the need to include gender analysis in all aspects of C.o.I reports and not to narrowly focus on sexual violence. How to create recommendations that are action-oriented, protect victims’ rights and work to prevent the re-occurrence and ensure the follow-up to gender specific recommendations.

Follow along with the two hour discussion to be broadcast live on at 16:00-18:00 GMT+2  and on Twitter with the hashtag #HRC39.